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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Judgement & Parenting : Lessons from God Cont'd

This morning my 18 year old daughter came downstairs to go to church with me. I had been so happy that she wanted to go and give worship to God on a day that is not obligatory to her. My heart sank when I saw what she was wearing. Apparently, her only pair of jeans had developed a hole and she could only put on a dress that ended just on her knees. My first thought was that it was inappropriate and I told her so. When she told me her dilemma, I, of course, asked her if she could find nothing else to wear. Her answer was no. It was too late for us to go digging for something else.

She said that I should go on without her, but I made a split second decision in my heart.. no doubt the grace of God and direction of His Spirit. I said that it was better she came to church. All the way there my thoughts were on what others would think when they saw her attire, I started thinking of the disapproving older members of the church who stare at others and show their judgement on their faces. I wondered if I should take a seat in the back and not my regular one close to the top of the church.

At some point before I got there, I felt a tugging on my heart. These people would judge my daughter based on how she looked. They don't know her heart. They don't know that she serves as a senior  altar server, that she is faithful and devoted to her involvement in youth church activities. They don't see her compassion for others or the times she's been selfless in her generosity to someone else, or loving in her forgiveness of someone who hurt her.

I felt a twinge of anger as I walked in and the first woman I saw stared straight at my daughter who was walking behind me. I firmly walked right up, even one bench higher than I usually do, knelt down and asked God to forgive me for caring about what others would think, for thinking of myself and worrying about being judged as a bad mother for bringing my daughter to church in a dress that touched her knees.

God quietly spoke to my heart."How many times have you looked at how someone else was dressed and judged them?"  I bowed my head in sorrow. Yes, Lord, I have done that. Perhaps that person also had nothing else to wear. Perhaps that person was so anxious to come to church that she never checked the mirror or maybe her children made her late and she grabbed the first thing she had. 

'But, my child, do you know other people's hearts? Who are you to judge them? You don't know their circumstances, what they face on a daily basis. You don't know their relationship with me." How true, Lord. I am ashamed for the times I have presumed to judge others. I KNOW better, why can't I live up to my good intentions? I know what its like to be judged by others. I know the hurt of being mis-judged, criticized, gossiped about.

Just recently, this same daughter had accompanied me to school to babysit her sister while I attended a meeting for her younger sister. While they were walking around the courtyard, she was accosted by another parent who scathingly and incredulously said "Is that your daughter?" and followed it up with a "Slut" . I was shocked and appalled that another parent could so mis-judge and presume upon my daughter's simply being with her sister. I was angry and wished I knew who it was that had said this so I could give her a piece of my mind.

I may not say this type of thing out loud, but do I think them? When I judge, even silently, does not the Lord Himself hear my thoughts? When I judge others for their driving skills (or lack thereof), their actions, the way they dress or speak.. am I any better than this woman who proclaimed publicly that my innocent daughter was promiscuous?

 James 2:10 tells us "whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking the whole of it"   That makes me guilty.. just as much as if I had openly criticized and judged another person.
Let He who is without sin, cast the first stone

I promise to do better in this Lord. I'm so grateful to you for pointing out this flaw. If I'd stuck to my original stance and not taken my daughter to church with me I would have lost this valuable learning opportunity.

I also sensed in my daughter a lightness of spirit.  I believe that I passed some sort of test with her. Too often in the past I have been concerned with looking like the perfect parent to the outside world. I believe that I have, many times in the past, chosen to put support or comfort of my children last in my quest to not look like an inadequate mother.  Slowly, God is opening my eyes to the error of my ways.

If I don't support them, if I'm the one judging them, who are they to turn to? As a mother, I have to point out when they do the wrong things, but God is showing me that judging is completely different to constructive, loving instruction.

God is our just and only judge and even he chooses loving instruction. Isn't it amazing how we continue to remain in His divine classroom, daily learning from His Spirit? Isn't it amazing how, through His Grace, love does not need to be limited to the smallness of us, our natures and weaknesses? If we open ourselves to Him, He continuously molds and shapes and takes us and our ability to love to new heights.

I hope that the next time my human nature prods me to judge someone, this lesson will come jumping out in 3D to me and I hope that it helps put this into perspective for you as well.

God's blessings be with you all and may you shine brightly for Jesus!

Today, this post is linked to: 

where Darlene herself shares a video that contains a message very similar to my lesson today. Hop on over and be blessed.


Crystal said...

What a nice post and a great reminder. I know I have been guilty of judging. I am appauled though that someone could say that about a child.

Kristin said...

I've been guilty in the past of wanting to look like the perfect mother. My firstborns looks changed after he left. I remember one time going into the mall with him and feeling so embarrased by how he looked. And I got the disapproving stares from other mothers. But I had decided that I would win my son back with love and felt that if I could not walk down the isle of the mall with him with my head held high, then I was telling him I would not be there for him. A ploy of the ol' devil he would have loved to use to put a wedge between us that day, but he did not win that day! Love and commitment has to be more important than looking perfect to the outside world. And this experience has shown me not to look disapprovingly at others but to look beyond the outer appearance and to look deeper. . .just like our Lord does with us.
Another great post :)

Lisa Maria said...

Thanks for visiting today Crystal. People judge by outer appearances. My daughter is 18 and I guess old enough to have mothered a child if she was so inclined, but to voice it in that manner? Not nice at all!

Kristin.. I know just how you feel! I feel like a gave that crafty old liar a good punch today. It felt good to know that I put something in the love bank today. :)

"Ima" said...

Well done momma! Being a mommy-so rewarding, and yet so hard. Searching for a new babysitter right now and feeling the pressure of "looking like the perfect mom". Thanks for the reminder. This nutcase really needed it.

Lisa Maria said...

Thank you Ima, I pray that you get someone suitable. I can imagine that must be a difficult thing. I'm sure that God will hand-pick someone for you if you ask Him to ;-)

Kelly said...

Beautifully said. I have become so tired of "the church" hurting people, and am trying to be more self aware of those times I, too, may have judged based on appearances or perceptions. I can't imagine how it pains God to see His children hurt oen another instead of encourage and build up. I'm sure your daughter will remember your love for her in this situation; what a blessing to her!

Lisa Maria said...

Kelly, thank you for visiting me and the blessing of your words. I'm sure you're right.. thankfully God doesn't get tired of dishing out His mercy!