"I tried so hard to please," said someone, "and then I realized no one was watching."
In truth, what I realized is that the ONLY person watching was me. And not only was I watching my own life, as well as judging it, but I was assigning to myself mostly failing grades. I complicated my life further still by imagining what others were thinking about me, and likely saying, about me, too.
More failing grades.
My religion didn't help either. I was taught that God was watching. But not just watching, he was recording my every thought and move. Furthermore, on Judgment Day, I would have to stand before this Eternal Judge and everything I had ever thought, or had ever done, would be viewed by one and all.
What sense could any of this make? If there were a Judgment Day, which of course there is not, a cosmic courtroom where all of your thoughts and actions will be laid open for all to see -- where others would wag their disapproving heads, giving voice to their shock and dismay, what difference would it make to you at that point in time? I mean, come on! Who would possibly care? It's eternity. It's eternally too late. Who'd give a damn what you were thinking the day you called your boss a "Son of a #$@% ?" Furthermore, what difference would it make to you?
None whatsoever! Which is precisely the point.
Divine grace is that moment of realization that there really is no judge but YOU. This realization accompanied my spiritual awakening.
Meister Eckhart, the 14th century German theologian and Dominican priest, said, "The eye through which I see God is the same eye through which God sees me." Among other things, what this means is that the eye through which I see me is the same eye through which the me in me sees me." It is the same eye. In other words, it is you who sits in judgment on you. And what you judge in yourself, you will most likely condemn in others. Conversely, what you forgive in others, you have forgiven in yourself already.
God's greatest gift to me -- what Christians almost universally call "salvation"; what Buddhists might refer to as "enlightenment" -- is the gift of self-love or, self-forgiveness, the consequence of which is self-acceptance.
Today, whether you are a churchgoer or not, give thanks that the inner Judge has died or, at the least, is dying. That you've been given 20/20 vision and you see the world differently. You see others differently, too. Most important, however, you see yourself for the resplendent creation of God that you really are?
Through much of my adult life, I tried so hard to please. Then, one day, I realized no one was watching. Correction! I realized I was no longer watching.
This is the meaning of grace. It's also the secret to happiness.