This is the Real Work of a Christian Mother

Being a Christian mother was all I wanted, but now, sometimes, I find myself chasing my own agenda or earthly rewards, missing the real work God has for me.

Being a Christian mother was all I ever wanted, but now that I’m here, sometimes, I fashion myself a writer. I sit on my couch, mug of coffee brewing inspiration inside my head, believing that sharing my tiny words are worth the tedious hours buried behind my computer.

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I sometimes even believe that my writing is the noble work I’m doing with my present days.

I sweat ink and bleed commas and stumble my way through learning all this techno blogging rot to share my faith with the world. And feel accomplished when someone I don’t know reads and shares my post. I can get pretty puffed up about it.


Mother & Daughter – Willow Tree Figurine – $35.00

from: DaySpring Cards Inc

But over the past few months, I see God taking me through an obstacle course towards real humility, a complete laying down of self. And I realize, I may be doing the most noble work of my life as a Christian mother, not writer.

My writing isn’t so incredibly exceptional the world cannot do without it. The only thing that makes this blog worth reading is when God supersedes my ego and grabs hold of my keyboard, letting me write in desperate humility about my challenges and faith as a Christian mother.

Am I missing the REAL WORK of being a Christian mother focusing too much on my own agenda? Click To Tweet

Today was a day full of tiny chores: scrubbing the grimy counters again, dusting the creepy cobwebs, washing dishes, cooking meals then washing those dishes, teaching homeschool, and patient parenting when she wanted attention the second I started something else.

And I felt myself grumbling. Why do I have to do all of this busywork when I could be doing something more important? And I felt God nudge me rather harshly.

Being a Christian mother was all I wanted, but now, sometimes, I find myself chasing my own agenda or earthly rewards, missing the real work God has for me.

But this IS the real work of Christian motherhood!

Don’t you know that learning to serve, to clean, to do the hard work that no one notices is the REAL work, the real work on your heart.

You know how hard life has been lately? And you see the way I’m growing strength and perseverance in you through the hard and disappointing? You see how I’m building your faith and softening your spirit.

Don’t you realize how much motherhood builds Godly character?

So I climbed the ladder to make my stepsons’ bunk beds instead of asking my husband to do it. I searched the house for a missing wallet. Then did the laundry they left and a few more loads to boot. I cleaned the kitchen, started dinner, organized the Tupperware that would be a mess again in five minutes. I ate lunch with my daughter instead of rushing to do something “more important.”

God is teaching me what joyful, humble service looks like through being a Christian mother.

Jesus didn’t wash the disciples’ feet because they were dirty. He did it because humble service is important.

Jesus didn't wash the disciples' feet because they were dirty. Humble service is important. Click To Tweet

I’ve learned more about the heart of Christ cleaning toilets, picking up dirty underwear, and vacuuming floors than anything else I’ve done. Because real service serves not to be seen, but point, point to Jesus.

Except by God, He sees it all. And just when I needed reminding, this video came across my newsfeed. Makes me cry every time.

I will keep writing and planning for future seasons of life, but God has given me this brief season to be a Christian mother, learning and teaching faith, humility, and grace.

When God tests my life’s work as 1 Corinthians 3:10-14 teaches, I don’t want to have missed the REAL WORK God asked of me, building character and deep faith in myself and family.

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The Light of the World

Letting Christmas be about reflecting the light of the world

I’m a work in progress. I was a bit of a pushy, bossy porcupine for a long time, intent on controlling my world and all the hurtful things in it. Every day, I work toward being different and walking the difficult road to change people’s expectations of me. Christmas is a huge chance to demonstrate a shift in my heart towards humility and gentleness.

1 John 1:7 ESV  “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

My house is decked with lights and holiday greenery, wreaths and stockings hung with care, but it’s all window dressing if my heart isn’t set on reflecting the light of Christ. And, let me tell you, God is definitely giving me lots of chances to practice my obedience and devotion to Him through loving my family this year, or even just this week!

Being His light means putting myself humbly last, letting God care for my heart when others don’t. And not acting like a martyr in the process. Easier said than done, but I’m growing in grace. Letting Christmas be about reflecting the light of the world

Christmas is MY favorite time of year, while my husband does his best to pretend he isn’t a scrooge with all the stress of shopping and worrying about money and making people happy. Warming his heart to the real meaning of Christmas has to start with demonstrating CHRIST in Christmas and being intentional about the environment of our home. How can I love him with a generous spirit? With quiet kindness and invitation rather than expectations and perfectionism.

I’m finding little ways daily to do that, rather than get caught up in just the decorative trappings.

For example, like having a good attitude and a servant’s heart when my plans get rear-ended by the army. I learned about his “office” Christmas party very last-minute, and even more last-minute that I was to prepare a side dish and three dozen cookies for an exchange. I had a couple of slips of irritation, but I could choose to adapt and overcome or cause an argument and bitter feelings. It says a lot about the work God is doing on my heart that I could see his need for me to be cheery and relaxed, so I was, because I love him, instead of holding onto my “right” to be upset that my weekend wasn’t going my way.

1 Corinthians 16:14 ESV  “Let all that you do be done in love.”

As I baked and cooked, my husband spent most of the day resting on the couch. While I was feeling like my to-do list for Christmas was growing with every thought, it was hard for me to watch him doing nothing. It took quite a bit of self-control to keep my tongue quiet. I could see a long list of things that needed his attention, but rather than react with my panic over what wouldn’t get finished, I quietly struggled with my attitude in prayer.

And God gave me the heart not to see my to-do list, but my husband’s “what I’ve done list.” He was wiped out from working 18-hour days, weekends, and nights. I realized what a tiny gift a few hours of quiet really was, and how simply I could give that with grace, not bitterness.

Romans 15:1 ESV  “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”

In that moment, I needed to find the compassion to be strong. Other days, his strength and energy have carried me through. A few days later, my husband was able to tell me how exhausted he had been, and how much he needed that rest, even though it wasn’t really enough. He really appreciated those precious hours in which he had no demands placed on him, a very rare time he didn’t have to be moving at warp speed.

Leviticus 19:34 ESV  “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself . . .”

Trying to have a Godly attitude, I imagined how I could love him as I would like to be loved. Convicted that my heart needing adjusting, I finished the baking and cooking without saying a word, letting him rest.

So, not a single present is wrapped, I haven’t even finished shopping, the stockings are going to be full of candy and not much else, cookies may or may not get baked, and no one is getting a Christmas card this year. I could look at all these things as failures, but in them I see a woman who realized how I act is way more important than how much I get done, and if that means some things don’t get done, God sees, he understands. And I think he’s way more impressed with my heart than my hearth.

I am not the light, but I am learning to be a reflection of the light by learning how to truly love those around me, by seeing them with the same eyes that offered me grace and the gift of Jesus Christ.

 

 

Secret Service: the key to unlocking a bitter heart

Secret service was the key to unlocking my bitter, angry heart and learning to love my husband again, which in turn, saved our marriage.

Secret service was the key to unlocking my bitter, angry heart and learning to love my husband again, which, in turn, saved our marriage.

We still really loved each other, but something was very broken. My husband was angry all the time. I was bitter. We could barely talk about anything without bickering, so we didn’t. I did my thing. He did his. We slept in the same bed, but we weren’t any kind of team.

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By the time we tried to communicate, we were boilers ready to explode, harboring so many hurts and slights.

My marriage was failing!

A year after he returned from his last deployment, I didn’t know if we were going to make it. I was trying so hard to be a “good” wife while he was such a selfish jerk.

He didn’t care about how his choices affected me at all. He used the last of the milk, broke my favorite dishes with his carelessness, and left me home with the stomach flu and toddler to go hunting. If I ever dared to complain, he would shut me out completely or explode with rage.

The train wreck of our marriage was hiding so many broken pieces, I didn’t know where to begin.

I wasn’t ready to leave, but I was heartbroken. I didn’t see how I could live the rest of my life with this awful person who hurt me at every turn. Guarding my heart from him, I walked on eggshells whenever we were together. Often, I went to bed aching with loneliness, wishing he would start being what I needed.

What a selfish creep .  .

I was.

Wait, what?

Yep, I’d been angry and bitter because I’d been expecting my husband to fill my heart in the places God should be. I was bitter from my selfish, unmet desires.

I began seeking God’s answers for my life. At first, when I read about letting God be my portion, it didn’t make sense, but I kept reading my bible and praying about it.

Lamentations 3:24 ESV “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

Over time, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes to my need for grace, and understanding God’s love for me. It unlocked my heart. A veil lifted.

I was able to see other people as loved creations of God struggling with their own sins and hurts.

I stopped seeing my husband as someone responsible for filling my heart, but as someone whose heart was so empty, he could barely function.

Then, I realized I’d been keeping score for a long time. I won’t do this for him because he didn’t do that for me. Each check mark against him cemented a brick in the wall between us.

Can Secret Service tear down the brick wall of bitterness?

Even when I had been doing the right things, I’d had the wrong heart. I would hold up my pretty list of all the wonderful chores I had done for him during the day and wait for his gratitude. Most of the time, I got nothing or a mumbled thanks, then I got hurt and more resentful.

But God really convicted me, “Are you truly doing things to serve or to get something from him?”

Even when I did the right things, I had the wrong heart. I wasn't serving. I was showing off. Click To Tweet

My motives weren’t pure. I wanted his love, recognition, respect.

A lesson from my Bible reading came to mind, about how we are to serve those in need.

Matthew 6:1-34 ESV
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Was my husband needy?

Maybe not in the traditional sense, but what if his poor attitude was because I was hurting him or not fulfilling his needs?

Through the lens of God’s grace, I suddenly saw my husband weighed down with pain, war, loss, frustration, disrespect, exhaustion.

As God’s word poured grace and forgiveness into my heart, I began to feel His love, and I started to fill up my husband’s cup out of the overflow of my heart.

When God poured grace into me, I began to fill up my husband's cup out of the overflow of mine.

When God poured grace into me, I began to fill up my husband's cup out of the overflow of mine. Click To Tweet

I began my secret service.

I finally felt loved enough to be able to love others. I could serve him secretly, not because I didn’t want him to know, but because I didn’t need him to. Our Father sees what we do in secret.

Quietly, I began doing things without his asking, like noticing his toiletries need replacing, making his lunch, preparing his coffeepot, and even suggesting he go hunting when his week has been frustrating.

My heart was more blessed doing quiet, secret service for him than it ever was by nagging him. Click To Tweet

One job I would never have considered before surrendering to Christ was picking up my husband’s dirty underwear off the bathroom floor.

Every morning – He walks past his closet (where his hamper is) to leave the house, but it never fails that his underwear are on the floor under the edge of the vanity. Previously, I would have ignored them, kicked them, but picked them up – ugh, no thank you.

Secret service was the key to unlocking my bitter, angry heart and learning to love my husband again, which in turn, saved our marriage.

But God was working on me. Before, I would have nagged him about being so lazy for leaving them there. My nagging would have become an infection between us.

Even several years ago, I would have kindly asked him to pick them up, but secretly resented those stupid underwear.

Then three years ago, I began to pick them up with a grateful attitude. “Thank you, Lord, my husband is not in Iraq.”

Today, I laugh. I even pray over those underwear.

“Lord, thank you for this opportunity to serve my husband, thank you for a marriage that is working, please remind me that all my service is for You ultimately, and is about humility and serving without drawing attention to myself.”

One secret of my service is remembering that my service is ultimately in HIS service. Click To Tweet

I pray over his day. I pray that his body will be enough to face the challenges of whatever he is called to do. Mostly, I pray that his heart will be open to see God in his day. And I pray for him to know I love him, to bring him home safely.

And I choose everyday to thank God for those stupid, blessed, dirty underwear. I’ve even been disappointed when he remembers to put them in the hamper.

My heart has been filled more in doing quiet, secret things for my husband than it ever was by nagging him into doing things for me.

When service filled my heart, I stopped being bitter. I started looking for the next thing I could do for him. My focus shifted. I started giving him real attention, listening to his needs. When his work day had been awful, I gave him some grace to find his peace so he could be the daddy and husband he wants to be.

If this is so secret, why am I writing about it?

It’s humbling and real. And every time I have shared this story with women whether 2 or 100, I’ve seen tears and nods. We all have our own dirty underwear mountain that we need to surrender.

So, I share in case another wife needs to hear my story. Nothing changed my marriage more than loving him and expecting nothing in return.

and Secret service is counter-cultural . . .

Our culture asks what’s in it for me? But I was never emptier than when I was counting the cost and measuring his gratitude.

I’ve never been more joyful than I’ve been picking up his sweaty, dirty, thrown up under the cobwebby vanity underwear because I see how God has moved in our marriage and in his heart through my tiny acts of obedience.

And sometimes we need reminding that we’re not supposed to blend in.

Besides, the underwear was just a start. Once joining the Secret Service, I found so many ways to quietly serve people. Those services are treasures I hold like sweet pearls, knowing I’m seen by my Heavenly Father from whom nothing is secret.

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Tights are not pants

Yesterday, God gave me a real opportunity to meet my daughter where she was. I was heading to a preparatory meeting for a local speaking engagement. I needed her to put her shoes on. After ten minutes, I called for her to come get into the car. She comes out of her bedroom in her t-shirt, sandals, and tights – no pants. Of course I giggled at her silliness, but suggested that she needs actual pants before we leave the house. After attempting to reason with her, I tried to take the easy way out and tell her that they had a hole instead of arguing the “tights are not pants” point.

tights-are-not-pants-pleaHa, ha. The joke was on me. She went into her room for another ten minutes, changing into ANOTHER pair of tights that didn’t have holes. And oh, the meltdown when I said she couldn’t wear that out in public. She even tried to pull her shirt down over her bum. “What if I do this?” she asked. Um, no, tights are not pants. She began to have a full tantrum. Through the tears and cries, I thought I heard something along the lines of “wahhh, I want to feel pretty!’

Luckily, we weren’t really expected at any specific time, so I was able to take a breath and really respond to her.

“Why do you want to wear the tights?”

“They are fancy. I like to be fancy.”

Oh, sweet girl! My heart melted when I saw her disappointment. In that moment, God gave me a soft heart for her instead of one rushed and determined with my own agenda.

“You are right. You haven’t gotten fancy for a while. Would you like to get fancy for church on Sunday?”

“Yes! with my tights?” Her face lit up when I said, of course. Then she immediately got up, put back on her pants and shoes so we could leave. It was kind of amazing.

When I met her where she was, validated her feelings, she was able to respect me and hear me. When she was so bogged down in being upset that she couldn’t hear me, I wasn’t going to be able to make progress with her.

It is a ridiculously simple trick that solves so many parenting battles. Meet her where she is and give her choices. She doesn’t understand why showing her hiney isn’t appropriate. She didn’t understand why I was hurrying out the door. She did know how she felt.

A few months ago, I would have wanted to handle the situation appropriately, but probably would have gotten frustrated. I would have set consequences and gotten her dressed, but would have missed the chance to love her. I loved her by not making it a battle with her. I loved her by taking the time to listen to her. I didn’t let her misbehave, but I gave her control in an appropriate way.

Ephesians 4:2 ESV “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,”

My patience with her four-year-old quirks and my willingness to see from her perspective were real gifts from God. Not only did she feel good about the exchange, but instead of starting the tightsnotpantsouting frustrated, I felt loved and respected right back. And we didn’t end up on the people of Walmart website, which is always a plus in rural Alabama.

Maybe someone needs to forward this information to this poor woman, in the spirit of love, of course.

Winning the Mommy Wars

The term Mommy Wars refers to the contentious relationships between mothers over real or imagined slights, insults and thinly veiled criticisms over individual parenting choices. It is the high school mean girl, cafeteria sagas for “adults.” Moms criticize or judge based on their ideas of a perfect mother (which usually looks a lot like them, ahem).

What would a “perfect” mom look like? We certainly get bombarded with all sorts of messages, don’t we? Based on today’s parent media standards, she might look a little like the list below.

She would always be patient, kind, fun, and funny, never yelling or letting stress get to her. She would not work, or only work from home when the kids were napping. She would only feed her children organic, non-GMO, BPA free, locally grown produce and antibiotic/hormone/cage free lean meat (never fast food because she is too tired to cook), after, of course, having breastfed her children for at least the first year. Her children would never have anything less than hormone/antibiotic free milk, filtered water (the hose doesn’t count as a filter), or 100% (not from concentrate) juice. She would can her own fruits and vegetables, grown in her meticulously tended backyard garden.Momsforme Her children would all be potty trained by the age of two, speaking in complete sentences and possibly starting to learn basic math skills. She would engage them in fun, educational play, even making chores a fun, learning activity. Her kids engage in physical play everyday for 60 minutes, but not dangerous sports like football or soccer because she doesn’t want them to have early onset dementia at 50 from too much childhood head trauma. Her children would be perfectly behaved at all times, never melting down in Walmart (as if, she’s so a Whole Foods’ girl). She has never parked her kids in front of a Disney movie so she can finally take a shower. In fact, her children would never watch television, or only 30 minutes of PBS.  Her older children attend private school or are home-schooled. Her house looks like an HGTV set at all times. She does not allow disorganization or clutter in her home. Laundry does not spend three days in the dryer, cycling on the fluff setting over and over. Random toys do not spend a week in the middle of the living room being walked around because she refuses to pick them up, using them as an obstacle course instead of hiring a personal trainer. She is thin, naturally beautiful, but works out three times a week to stay healthy, but manages to do so without neglecting any of her other responsibilities, including book clubs, bible studies, volunteering at church, and coffee dates with friends several times a week. Of course she has two children, maybe three, but never just one lonely only or heaven forbid, four or more. And all of her cooking, projects, and crafts look like they are straight off Pinterest. showermomOf course her relationship with her husband is also perfect and wonderful so her children grow up with a great example of a loving marriage. She loves her family with her whole heart, and she serves Jesus in everything she does with a glad and joyful heart.

I’m sorry, I know, I didn’t even get into baking or recycling or cloth diapering. This is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I got exhausted just writing it! Please feel free to comment about a standard or expectation that I missed. I’m sure we all have personal examples of standards by which we’ve been or felt judged. But can we all agree that this list is impossible?

And can we all agree that the only absolute on that list is the very last sentence? Because everything else on that list is negotiable. When it comes to the Mommy Wars, really the only way to win, is not to play.

Unfortunately, we tend to be opinionated, thrusting our opinions on others in a ferocious display of arrogance and pride. We know how difficult being a mother is. I do not understand how we can simultaneously know how often we fail or compromise while holding someone else to the same ridiculous standards that we can’t achieve. That isn’t how we should treat each other as friends, neighbors, women, or Christians.

Proverbs 31:26 ESV “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.”

I have lots of opinions. I love to share them. I am an external processor. By teaching, writing or talking, my ideas and opinions come to life. I really have to assess my attitude and purpose before I say something to someone. Sometimes my foot goes into my mouth despite my best intentions. Am I saying something to be “right” or because I am trying to lovingly direct or guide them? Is it even my place, in this exact moment, to be his/her correction?

James 4:11-12 ESV  “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

James clearly says we are to be concerned not about judging, but only about following the law of Christ. Most of the debates and criticisms in these “Mommy Wars” have nothing to do with God or being Godly. Should you give your child chocolate cake and soda for breakfast? Maybe, maybe not, but some choices are simply between you, your family, and God. He is the only judge because he alone knows your every decision, every thought, and your heart and intentions. Maybe that person judging you doesn’t know that chocolate cake for breakfast is a birthday tradition for your child, or an upset tummy prompted you to allow a glass of soda, or since your husband deployed your child refused to wear anything except his superman costume because he thinks he can protect his daddy. Whatever the circumstance, it just doesn’t matter . . . there are some choices that we can just say aren’t important in the grand scheme of eternity.

Can I lovingly live my decisions in front of someone, allowing them to decide if they want to talk about it? Or can I simply be a Godly example and keep my mouth shut?

Ephesians 5:1-2  ESV “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

The internet has become an amazing resource for parents. I know that when we brought home our daughter, I was reading “What to Expect the First Year” and subscribed to every newsletter, email article, and parenting magazine as I could because I wanted to make informed choices as a parent. My neuroses not withstanding, having access to that much information, with the current level of unfettered access to each other’s lives through social media, can lead to a mess of assumptions, opinions, and hurt feelings.

In the past week, and by week, I mean this week, since Sunday (and I started writing this on Tuesday), more than 5 of my friends have made Facebook posts about feeling judged or criticized by others. Of course these are always the vague rants that are so defensive and angry. I hate knowing people I love are hurting, but I also wonder if there isn’t a better way to handle the Mommy Wars.

If I was all computer savvy, I would make you a nice little flow chart, but alas, I am not. So you’re going to have to tough it out and follow along in paragraph form.

1. Did someone say something to you or about you directly?

No?  Then ask yourself why are you feeling judged or criticized?

I have a friend whose blog has made me feel critical about my choices by no fault of hers. It is simply a sensitive subject for me. I really worry about what I’m feeding my family. Between blogs and articles about pesticides, GMOs, BPA, and chemicals, I just feel like everything in my home is poison. She has an amazing garden. They grow most of their own herbs and vegetables. I would love to have that at my disposal, but had to realize that I can celebrate her ability and enthusiasm without feeling criticized because her choices are not mine. I don’t enjoy gardening, at all. I do not have any successful experience growing plants. I do not have a good place to grow a garden in my yard with three kids and two dogs and a swimming pool. My sensitivity about my own choices was my problem. I had to adjust my attitude. Today, I can just marvel at how she does what she does, knowing that her gifts are not my gifts.

1 Peter 4:10 ESV “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:”

Yes, someone said something to you directly?  Then ask yourself  1) is it true?

This is the tough one, but before I even reply to a criticism, I have to search my heart. If what is being said is true, then I need to decide if it something of which I need to repent and change. I don’t want to search my heart. I want to lash out in righteous indignation, but thinking I am smarter and wiser than everyone else isn’t righteous, it’s self-righteous. God tells us to listen to the wisdom and reproof from others. I’m still working on knowing how to soften and listen in the moment, but I know God’s instruction can come in many forms. If I hold all things against the Bible as my source of truth, against who I know God to be, then I have to accept correction. Even if it wasn’t handled the way I would have wished, I can still choose to get wise or offended.

Proverbs 13:18 ESV “Poverty and disgrace come to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds reproof is honored.”

God puts people in our lives from whom we can learn and grow if we don’t let pride get in the way of instruction. Everyone has a perspective, learn to listen and be able to sort through what is good and useful without letting what isn’t hurt you.

Proverbs 19:20 ESV “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.”

1 Peter 5:5 ESV “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

And if it isn’t true?  Then you have to focus on the truth. You are known by God. He is the only judge who matters. The rest is rubbish and can be dealt with accordingly. Even when things aren’t true, we worry. We worry about if this becomes gossip, what will others think, etc. I have no easy solution for letting go of those feelings because the only way to let those things go is to know who you are in Christ so completely that other’s opinions can slide off your back. One of my earlier posts dealt with my personal experience on the Mommy battlefield, Holding Grudges.

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Was the statement false or based on a misunderstanding? Go to the person. Talk to her directly, once you have calmed down. If talking to her in a calm, clear manner, after searching your heart and scripture does not resolve the issue, chose someone wise in faith and life to take the issue before. If the other person will not discuss the issue or refuses to go before an elder, then . . .

Titus 3:10 ESV “As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him,”

Someone who is repeatedly contrary in nature to the kindness, gentleness, grace and forgiveness of Christ is directly in opposition to the relationships we are supposed to cultivate within each other.

Romans 16:17-18 ESV “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.”

We are not called to to decide if someone is saved or judge if someone is truly a Christian. God will handle that, but we can walk away from someone whose current actions are not Christlike once we’ve followed all the Biblical steps to restoration.

2. Does the person criticizing or being criticized identify as a follower of Christ?

No? Then, as much as I wish she were, would lovingly invite her to know Him, she isn’t going to follow the same set of rules. If she’s playing Candy Land, it would be ridiculous to hold her to the Chutes & Ladders rules. My job as a Christian is to love her, to see her the way God does, in need of saving just like I am, but the Bible tells us we are not to judge outsiders. And Christians should only worry about the judgment of outsiders if our actions are truly interfering with our witness.

1 Corinthians 5:12 ESV “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?

Yes? Both parties identify as Christians.  Then God’s rules are to govern all of our behavior, whether we’re the speaker or the target of the criticism.

John 7:24 ESV “Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”

We can’t know the truth of someone’s journey with God. We see someone smoking outside of church and judge her. We don’t know that if she weren’t smoking, she wouldn’t be able to fight her other addictions. I really believe it is better to pray for her for strength and go over to her, talk with her, give her a hug, tell her you’d love to get together.

1 Peter 3:8 ESV “Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”

Peter’s statement about ‘unity of mind’ means to have our affections focused on the same goal, God, and ‘sympathy’ or compassion meant literally to feel with each other, celebrating or grieving together. If we all are focused on loving God and on true empathy, we don’t have much room for the pride and anger that leads to judgment and criticism.

Galatians 5:13-15 ESV  “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.”

While I started this entry focusing on “the Mommy Wars,” I really think that people have a tendency to judge, and the Bible calls on us to love each other, help others, but not sit in judgment over anyone.

Sometimes really poor decisions do lead to appropriate church discipline, but God gave us guidelines for how to properly bring a brother/sister into loving restoration within the church, if he/she is willing to repent and be restored. If he isn’t, we are to let him go for a time, knowing that God never really wants to let us go and keep that brother or sister in our hearts in prayer.

Philippians 2:1-11 ESV  “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,”

We find the Bible is the only real source we need. Encourage each other in Christ with affection and sympathy, do not compete or be arrogant, do everything humbly considering the other better than yourself, and look out most for the interests of others. If tomorrow, every Christian lived this scripture in all our relationships, what a witness we could be to the world.

Again, the only way to win the ‘Mommy Wars’ is not to play at all.