It happens. And it can be humiliating. Your child, there in a public place, screaming and crying. You feel the stares, the judgement. As if that isn't enough to make you want to sit down and cry, someone decides to offer their judgement and condemnation aloud about the fact that you have "so many kids" and that you can't control them.
That's it. My day feels deflated. I feel like a total loser who in the words of many (which use to include myself) obviously just breeds and lives off the government. Or, I am a mindless woman who thinks that all she can do in life is be barefoot and pregnant.
I know to many these seem like harsh statements coming from a place of hurt and hatred but this is how many women in our society feel. Why? Why do we do this to each other?
I'll be the first to admit I am quick to judge. This is something that I feel like God has been dealing with me over the past couple of years. I pray almost daily for God to make my heart and mind more like His, even though I am light years away from that, I think by bringing me to my knees, my mind and heart have started to change.
Our family has faced many hardships over the past few years. Many times due to our own mistakes but at other times due to unforeseeable circumstances.
In my mind, the only way I was capable of showing love and compassion to "the least of these" was to be "above them". Not having "too many kids", having plenty of money and resources, these were some of the qualifications in my mind for helping others. How could I offer anything if I don't have enough myself?
In reality, I have more than enough. My family does not go hungry. We have transportation, healthcare, clean water, good housing. When I start running down the list of these basic things that many in our world live without, then I am rich.
So as an election year approaches I ask the question.....Can we stop pledging our allegiance to being liberal, conservative, democrat, or republican, libertarian, or whatever we might consider ourselves? Why don't we just start being human?
Why don't we reach out and help that poor struggling mother in the grocery store? Why don't we offer a hand or a smile, instead of judging her purchases and life choices as she uses her food stamp card?
Even though I might be struggling too, why don't I reach out with a "I feel your pain and you're doing a good job Mommy. Even though you may feel like you are drowning right now, just keep treading water. You'll soon see the shore and it will be beautiful."
If someone chooses to have "a lot of kids" or no children. Why should we judge? If someone chooses to marry or not, work or stay home, homeschool their children or choose public school, or private school, why should any of this matter?
Can we just cheer each other on? Can we offer a helping hand and a kind uplifting word? Can we stop thinking maybe they "deserve it" if they are struggling or dealing with misfortune?
What if we all started looking at each other through God's eyes? We are ALL His children. He loves us ALL.
Those immigrant moms, dads, sons, and daughters who are scared, hungry, and sick at our borders. He loves them.
Those Muslim extremists who are beheading the weak and innocent. He loves them. He wants them to come to Him and know Him and change their hearts.
The person who is dying of a horrible communicable disease that the world is terrified of. He loves them.
I believe what God wants is for us to show love to each other right where we are. Sure, there are risks involved. There are many who won't accept His love. They won't allow it to penetrate their cold, unwilling hearts. They have been trained to hate since birth. Their mind can't leave that place. It's all they know.
That's why it is even more important for those of us who have felt God's grace and love to show it and give it freely and train our children to do the same. We may be the only light some may see. Our smile and caring gesture may touch their hearts. It might just keep them from the edge. To know that someone cares or that there is actually a kind heart in this world just might stop a bullet. It might save a life.
You never know what one act of kindness might spark. When we stop looking at each other through economic, political, religious, cultural and racial stereotypes, with our predispositions and misconceptions then maybe....just maybe...there will be room for God's love, grace, kindness and mercy.
What would our world look like then?