The one who’s different from you.
Maybe she works,works from home, is a SAHM, home-schools, public schools or private schools her kids. Maybe she’s organic right down to her shoes and makes her own laundry soap. Maybe she’s got tattoos or purple hair. Maybe she is younger, or older than you were when you started the whole mothering thing. Maybe she’s an immigrant and English is her second language. Maybe, she’s Muslim, or Jewish or Christian. Maybe she struggles with a chronic illness, child with special needs-or has a different marital/family situation than you do.
I’ll be honest- I’ve done more than wondered what it would be like. I’ve made assumptions and judgments about what it must be like and how and why she’s different from me.
I mean- my way of mothering is obviously the right way. That’s why I do it this way. Duh. So of course I judge. In order for my way to be right- her’s has to be wrong. Over time, I’ve let those judgments and assumptions build up into walls. Walls that keep “other” moms out of my life.
Over the past few years, God has been doing something interesting with those walls. He’s been tearing them down. Brick by judgmental brick. For the most part it hasn’t been in miraculous Jericho-like ways. There haven’t been horns or 3 day marches. Just- meetings. Accidental meetings where I take the time to get to know some “other” mom.
What I’ve discovered is this: a lot of my assumptions and judgments have been 100% wrong.
I think, I’m learning to love- the other. Here is [one of the ways] the Bible defines love…..
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Cor 13:4-7 NIV
I’ve been doing the opposite. My judgmental walls have been built on assumptions of impatience, unkind thoughts, envy (the grass is greener- over there…) pride- my way is the right way, dishonoring other mother’s unique callings and personalities, seeking to prove I’m right, anger over being judged by others and keeping a record of the “kinds” of others who’ve judged me, delighting when others fail- because it makes me feel like I’m succeeding, not really caring about the truth as much as assuming I already know it, defending myself instead of protecting others, doubting instead of trusting, giving up that I can connect with others if they are different or if it’s hard, instead of persevering.
What started out as an accident- has become a passion. Those “accidental” meetings have become friendships- friendships that have changed both my me and my mind. For the better. I’m making fewer assumptions and asking more questions. Now that I’ve gotten to know some “other” moms, I know how much I’ve missed out on by keeping them out of my life. I’ve also learned that we never know if, when or how our circumstances will change. Being surrounded by women of all kinds and backgrounds- gives us a collective wisdom to depend on when they do.
Settling for judgmental walls isn’t good enough anymore. I want to love more. I want to love better.
I can’t help but wonder what the world would be like- if women (and mothers) grew to know and respect each other instead of judging and assuming? What if we learned to love the other?
I think that instead of being threatened by our differences and spending so much time defending ourselves- we’d be better- if we mothered together.
Even when we disagree-we need each other.
As iron sharpens iron,
so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
I’m not naive. I know that differences can cause conflict. Have you ever seen the ironworking process? When iron sharpens iron- sparks fly- however-the results are worth the risk and the work.
They are worth the risk in relationships, too.
My questions for you- do you catch yourself judging others? Do you make assumptions based on moments you experience from the outside- as a grocery store voyeur- or mall maligner? I have. Or, do you take the time to try and get to know that “other” mom?
I’m ready to tear down the rest of my walls. I want to engage with and learn from: YOU. The other mother.
Who ever you are. Similar to me, or different. I’ve had a taste… I want more. I need more.
So- I’m ready to walk some miles- in the shoes of others- when I can, so I can get to know by a bit of experience what your life is really like- next to you when I can’t walk in your shoe-by listening, to you who live there- instead of judging.
It’s gonna be a grand adventure.
It already has been;) Besides- it involves shoes! Who doesn’t love shoes???? :)
I have a feeling that if we stopped all the judging, competing and assuming– the whole Mommy Wars thing? Would be over.
Which: I’m ready for. How bout you? Looking forward to sharing more of the journey:) Stay Tuned.