Judgement has been on my mind and heart lately. My judgement of others and other people's judgement of me. I have learned, ever so humbly, not to judge. I don't feel as though I walked around in blatant judgement of other moms, it is as innocent as making little comments to my husband or friends, or even as small as a thought that would cross my mind when I would witness something.
I did not have some great epiphany or spiritual encounter to come to this 'do not judge' conclusion. I know it's wrong, I know the bible talks about it, but I don't think I really understood how overtaking it can be. How by judging someone else I'm putting my own relationship with the Lord at risk and hindering my walk with Him. And however innocent, judgment is still judgement, with the same consequences.
So what revelation pointed out this sin in my life? I simply had a third child. A game changer, if you will. Some people may have three children and read this and think I'm nuts. Some people may have just two children and get my point completely. Or some of you may think I'm just weak and can't handle it. Here's the deal, three kids is hard. I'm not one to put-on or pretend to make my life look like all of the pieces just fall into place and everything is glorious all of the time. It's not. It's hard. Some days your children are sweet and loving and wonderful listeners who follow the rules. Some days they are strong-willed, unruly tantrum throwing miniature people. Some days they take off running across the parking lot with you chasing them, screaming for them to stop, and them laughing and giggling their cute little heads off. OR they completely lose it at a PTA meeting because you gave them an 'everything' bagel that they begged for because they thought it was a donut with sprinkles, and now they have tasted an onion. Heaven forbid.
The thing is, I'm doing my best. I'm consistent, I discipline, I love, I cry and I pray for my kids. Even though all of these things are true of me, I still get the looks. The glaring looks from other moms, from people at church, subtle comments that pierce my heart. Under-the-breath comments from family, friends and strangers. Subtle digs. Sighs from people behind me in the checkout line at Target. Sometimes it feels like everyone thinks they could do a better job raising my children. Let me tell you, this is discouraging. It breaths lies into your life and the lives of your children. I have had to flat out rebuke things that friends and family members have spoken over my kids. Even when it comes across in a joking manor.
So something struck me when I took this to the Lord. I too judge others based on the behavior of their children. The thing is, I have no place, no clue, and no right to do such a thing. Just as a mother to one or two children may have no idea what i'm going through with three, I have no idea what's happening in the lives of other families. What circumstances they are enduring, the personalities of their children, etc... no matter how many kids they have. What it must be like to have four or five children and all of the scheduling, tantrums and stress that must go along with that. I should encourage them, lift them up, pray for them and be there as support.
I can't even describe to you how wonderful and refreshing it is to have someone to encourage you. A complete stranger, even. At the start of the school year my oldest was having a hard time going to school. I left my youngest in the car right outside the door because he was sleeping, while I walked Jude to the door. He screamed and cried and begged me to walk him to his class. I must have been at least 11 months pregnant and I just had enough. All of the other moms were kissing their littles goodbye and they were running through the school doors happy as could be, while I had a gigantic 5 year old tumor stuck to my leg begging me to take him home with me. I was starting to cry and sternly telling Jude that he had to go to school. All of the sudden a super sweet mom came up to me and said, "I'll watch your car for you so you can walk him to class." I instantly trusted her and was able to walk Jude to his classroom where he hugged me and thanked me for the extra 30 seconds we had together that morning. That mom didn't judge me, she helped me. She did what she could in that minute to take my tears away and ease my day a little. And that helped Jude as well. I recently saw her again and thanked her for helping me that day and she said, "We moms have to stick together and help each other out." It's so true.
Another day I was on an unavoidable trip to Walmart with all three kids and they were all over the place. I was trying to control the situation and a bit frazzled. A man across the aisle looked at me and said, "You're doing a good job, Momma." I must have given him a doubtful look because he followed up with, "Seriously, it's a hard job, and you are doing great!" That little bit of encouragement was what I needed in that moment to not totally lose it with my kids in public. Especially when I'm getting looks and rudeness from others around me. One lately literarily cart-rammed me because I was taking up too much space. True story.
Sometimes the stress of all of this makes me angry. Angry that my children aren't just little robots who do whatever I tell them. That they have minds of their own. That they are spunky little versions of me (if we're being honest here). And I don't want that to be the case. I want to embrace their gifts and what these qualities will create in them as big people. How God will use them with these personalities they have been gifted. When I pray for them, I pray that God would help me raise them and discipline them without crushing their spirit. That's the last thing I want to do. I have good kids! Really good kids. They are not robots, they are very spirited and passionate. I get excited thinking about the things God will use them for!
Last night I was pointed to a blog post by Lysa TerKuerst from Proverbs 31 ministries. It was no accident that I saw this. It was just what I needed ending my day yesterday. I love it when God does that!
I love that God gives us companions, friends or even complete strangers to lift us up. To raise our spirits, encourage each other with our stories, and to be honest about what life really looks like. People who make you feel bad about yourself, subtly condemn you and judge you are not your friends. Don't surround yourselves by these people. Choose your friends wisely and surround yourself with people who will encourage you and build you up in the Lord. Honest people who don't try to make you feel inadequate. That's the kind of thing satan does.
These are the scriptures I will be studying!