Okay, I’ve never actually been taken to the woodshed. I may even be part of the last generation that even knows what the phrase means exactly. But being taken to the woodshed isn’t exactly what this entry is about.
The one thing I am an expert at is taking myself to the woodshed. I visit it several times a day, and on really bad days, I take a pillow and blanket and hanker down for the duration.
The problem with this situation is two-fold: I waste valuable energy beating myself up for things that really aren’t that important, and I fail to see myself through God’s eyes, failing to see my really important flaws and missing out on all the love that God has to offer.
When I am in the woodshed, I don’t give myself credit for being human. Any mistake in my job or in my interactions with others only proves my unworthiness or stupidity.
At the same time, the woodshed gives me a sort of martyr perspective, where I spend so much energy on lashing myself about things that don’t matter, that I don’t realize I have fallen victim to pride, judgmentalism, or any number of loveless acts that ultimately fail God. The woodshed can be a very self-centered place, where you become so wrapped up in yourself, even if that focus is negative, you don’t even realize you’ve stopped thinking about others in a Golden Rule kind of way.
One thing a woodshed view can do for you is make you quick to judge: yourself as well as others. When you spend all day rushing to judgment about your own actions, it isn’t long before you are doing the same thing about other people without even realizing it. Does everybody have to live the same way you do? Are they required to make the same decisions or pursue a task in the same way? In the woodshed, you tend to forget that the answer to these questions is “no.”
When I started thinking about this topic, I asked myself, “what does God say about the woodshed?” Of course, He wants us to remove the beam from our own eyes before worrying about the specks in others’ eyes. But, do His beams include taking two hours instead of one to finish a project, or not having the best figure in the world, or worrying about getting your car or house fixed?
God also makes it clear throughout the Bible that He is the ultimate and only true judge. Paul’s ministry is based on the understanding that only through grace, received from God through the death and resurrection of Christ, do we receive salvation. Our acts do not earn us our salvation. It is a gift. This fact is a lucky thing too, for in his letter to the Romans, Paul reminds us that we “all have fallen short of the glory of God.” No matter how hard we try, none of us will ever be perfect.
That doesn’t keep us from trying to be Christ-like. One true sign of the full acceptance of Christ is our desire to be Christ-like. But the woodshed just isn’t Christ’s style. He was always truthful, always firm, but never cruel. Think about His encounter with the woman at the well or the rich young man.
I made a goal this year to try to keep myself out of the woodshed, which should make me less judgmental of myself and others. This is a goal that requires discipline on my part. I have to replace woodshed moments with encouraging words for myself and others. I have to envision a large STOP sign when I find myself thinking woodshed thoughts. I have to pray to turn my mind to the things that are important to God and not to me.
Writing about it helps me realize how damaging my woodshed moments can really be. I hope that any others who find themselves in the same situation discover their own, positive ways out. With God’s help, it’s something we all can do.