On the surface, my life might seem perfect. People have even told me so. I am incredibly blessed with a loving husband who works hard to provide for us to allow me to stay at home, a precious daughter, parents who are still married (to each other), a home with room to grow. I thank God often for pouring out His blessings on me when I do not deserve them. But, despite what things look like on the surface, there are not-so-perfect things lurking deeper inside.
I hate that I struggle with having compassion, gossiping, judging, negativity, generosity. I wish I would keep my mouth shut when I hear the Holy Spirit prompt me to remain silent.
It's so easy for me to jump to conclusions about someone else's life and be critical of them, even though I know that I will be judged with the same measure that I judge them (Matthew 7:2: "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."). This is an area that I really want to work on. I have no idea what other people are going though, what their motives and intentions are. They are accountable to God for their own lives and I'm accountable for mine.
Take motherhood for example. Before Natalie was born, I would observe other mothers' interactions with their children and think about how I would follow their lead or act differently than them when I had my own children. I had so many ideas about how I would raise Natalie. I was going to be consistent, she was going to be well-behaved, I was never going to let her have sugar, she would be on a schedule, she would never watch tv. Once she was born, I quickly realized that motherhood was very different and much harder than I expected. At 10 months old, she is stubborn and sometimes needs to be corrected numerous times before finally being obedient (I'm sure this is very normal since she was not born knowing right from wrong, but silly me expected to have given birth to a perfect child who obeyed the first time. You are so naive, Amanda! I give you full permission to laugh at me!). She has never stuck to a schedule, nor do I know how to get her on one, but we have survived thus far. We have given her tastes of cake and ice cream, pie, brownies, and other sweets on many occasions. We do occasionally turn on Sesame Street when she is having trouble winding down for a nap or bedtime, but we do not use the tv as a babysitter. Despite re-evaluating my expectations, I don't feel like a failure as a mother (although I have my moments), but how foolish and wrong I was to ever judge other mothers for the decisions that they made! Sometimes it's simply a difference in personality that causes us to interact with our children the way we do. It's not that one way is right and one is wrong. One approach is not "good" or "bad". We each must do what we feel is best for our children, for our families, for our own sanity! More importantly, we must do what God has called us to do. My calling is not the same as the mom sitting next to me in the church nursery. Hers is not the same as the mom standing next to her in the grocery store. But each is as important in the eyes of God as the other.
The bottom line is, when I look at someone and jump to conclusions about what their life must be like based on their outward appearance, I need to stop and remind myself that they are a work in progress just like me, and that I don't know the first thing about what is going on in their life or in their heart. Maybe instead of judging them, God wants me to bless them. How can I be a blessing, if my heart wants to criticize them? Take a look in the mirror, woman! You don't have it all together either! Thank you, God, for not giving up on me! "For He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion..." Phillipians 1:6