Don’t Judge!

Other people were judgmental and rude. Not me.

It’s amazing what different seasons of life will reveal if you let them. After having our first son, it was like God ignited a bomb within my soul that exposed some major sin in my life. I am sure many moms have this aha moment, but I was completely caught off guard. It’s crazy how sneaky pride is in our lives, convincing you that you aren’t a judgmental person. “I’m not judging her, I just won’t be doing it THAT way.” I would tell myself pre-childbirth.

Sure, I never said anything out loud (at least not to that person) about my thoughts on how wrong they were. But slowly my perception of other mother’s would be one of pity. Such a shame that they just couldn’t get their act together so their lives would be better and they wouldn’t have to be so overwhelmed. “I won’t be like that”, I said. “I will learn from their mistakes and we won’t have all these problems.” I scrutinized and analyzed these mothers who allowed me to see their messy lives and silently chose to write them off as far as potential mentors went. They clearly weren’t the ones I wanted to be watching and learning from. I was exceptionally harsh with one friend in particular. Her life was entirely different than mine, from the type of marriage she had to her personality. This is the same friend who was brave enough to declare in front of me and all my friends that she had looked at porn, when everyone around me was expressing disgust at the thought. And so I found myself mentally separating myself from her and placing myself on a pedestal. I would be different.

“Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” – Proverbs 16:18

Well that fall came and it came hard. It turns out I was not different. It turns out, I was worse. I am confident God was disgusted with my prideful heart before my journey in motherhood even began and he proceeded to remove it as quickly as possible. I am thankful, but it was extremely painful. I was going to be one of those moms who does everything right. You know, like all of those mom bloggers. I would have a natural birth at a birthing center with no meds. I would nurse my child for a year and never use formula. I…….I…….I would do none of those things. After five days of labor ending in an emergency C-section (that’s right, five freaking days), an intense and difficult recovery, major difficulties nursing leading to a switch to formula at six months, and countless other “failures,” I was in a dark and depressing place. “I am a failure. I can’t do anything right. I hate myself. I…….I…….I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE!!!” 

You know what’s funny? That same friend who I judged so harshly, is the one who told me I was not a failure. This mom who I viewed as doing it “wrong,” was the one who encouraged me every step of the way through my horrible labor. She was the one who told me that it was ok to use formula, even though she herself never had to use it for her children. She accepted my failures and had grace on me. She did not judge me in my hour of need (even though she never struggled in the areas of motherhood that I was struggling in). She was there for me and prayed for me and answered the phone when I desperately needed a friend to talk things through.

My pride was exposed even more for what it really was, and I was brought lower than I had ever been before. “I can’t do this anymore.”

It’s true. I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t continue in my pride. Thankfully my story didn’t end where it does for so many others. I stopped looking at myself and started looking at Jesus. I stopped trying to do it by myself and reached out for help. I took myself off of that pedestal and brought myself low at the feet of my King.

“And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – James 4:6

Oh, thank God for that grace.

Walking in Freedom – Part II

“Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;” – Romans 8:5-6

As I said in a previous entry, I believe that if you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are free. And that freedom is complete regardless of where you stand in life. You don’t have to clean up your life first to become free. If you did, it wouldn’t be called grace.

But then we get into the more complicated area of freedom. I think there may be two different freedoms that we try to lump into one. We are freed from death and our sins are covered by the greatness of Jesus, but are we free from sin? I think that depends on what your mindset is.

Too often, we end up focusing solely on our own issues; on our own problems and how messed up we are. We are free, so why are we still sinning? Instead of focusing on the one who set us free and seeking His wisdom and the things above, we focus on ourselves and the things we are doing wrong.

We will not live in accordance with the Spirit until we set our minds on Jesus. So, if we are focusing on our own fleshly desires, we will never be set free in the way we are hoping for. But if, even while we are sinners, we choose to set our minds on Jesus, things will start to change for us. We will begin to only desire the things we are choosing to set our minds on. We will no longer desire the things that our sinful nature will always desire.

We cannot clean ourselves up first. We cannot stop living in our sinful ways before we decide to focus our minds on the Word and the things of Jesus. It is impossible. But through Him, everything is possible.

Perhaps if we all chose to focus on the goodness of our creator more often than the wretchedness of ourselves, we would find ourselves in a place of righteousness and holiness that we never dreamed to achieve.

A life lesson

I plan to continue to post entries every Sunday that are along the same lines of what I have been posting, but every now and then I have a thought that I really feel like God wants me to share. I hope it benefits someone. 🙂

Something happened today that really got me thinking about a few things.

I work in a place where I encounter people who are, to put it nicely, crazy. They lose their minds over things that are out of my control and say hurtful things. I have not always responded in the best way outwardly or inwardly. I find myself dwelling on all of the things I wish I had said in response to their cruel words. It is like the event follows me even after it is all over with. I tell the story painting the crazy customer in the worst shade possible and me in the best. Don’t get me wrong, they usually are pretty absurd and, in the world’s eyes, deserve everything I am saying about them, but is that how I am called to act?

Today I was in line at Walmart and an older black man got in line behind me. I immediately knew something was wrong as he began to throw racial slurs that didn’t even apply to me behind my back. I was hoping that he was on a Bluetooth talking to someone, but as I glanced behind me I noticed there wasn’t one. When he saw me glance back he then began to mutter quite loudly about how I shouldn’t be looking at him and he was fixing to kill me and bury me alive. Then he proceeded to say some rather vulgar things that he was going to do to me. I was concerned and didn’t want to accuse him of something he wasn’t guilty of. So, I turned around and asked him if he was talking to me or someone else because I couldn’t tell. He said that I was mistaken and he was talking about Walmart itself. I really didn’t believe him but didn’t want to prolong the conversation as I could tell something was very wrong with this man. He said many other things which I chose to ignore and I checked out and left all while he was continuing to talk about me behind my back.

I have absolutely no idea why this man was saying all these horrible things to me. I did absolutely nothing to deserve it. And yet my reaction to him was completely different than my reactions to customers in the past. And none of them have ever threatened to bury me alive outside. If I heard someone else tell that story, I probably would have piped in with how I wouldn’t have taken that craziness and would have immediately called the cops on him. Well, I didn’t do any of that. I was more focused on wondering how a person gets to that point. The point where they say vile things to people for no apparent reason. Did he even realize how horrible he was being? Was he completely out of his mind? What could possibly cause a person to behave in such a manner? Instead of responding to all of his comments, I let it go. Everything inside of me wanted to tell him he was a jerk and I was going to call the cops on him, but where would that have gotten me? Probably buried alive somewhere.

I have seen people return fire with fire and it never turns out well. When I find myself dwelling on what I should have or could have said in response to all the people who insult me for no reason, I need to start praying that I would be able to forgive them and treat them far better than they treated me. I feel like I did that with the man in line at Walmart. I can’t say I have done the same in the past with my crazy customers. This is something I want to change. I want to start living my life in a way that paints people in a better light than they deserve. A life where I don’t wish I had been more sinful than I was and instead am grateful that Christ has helped me show self-control. I am praying that my stories in the future will show how God is using me to extend kindness and grace where normally none would be given.

I’m tired of letting the crazies rule my thoughts at the workplace. I am ready to dwell on my Savior and
let go of the pain their hurtful words can cause.