January 16, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Rebecca Ingram Powell
Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"
"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." John 8:10-11
One of the hardest things for me to overcome as a mom was what I said about other people's children, before I had any of my own! As a high school and college student, I worked in retail, and I was often guilty of making quick judgments (actually, misjudgments) about parents and their children (especially active, energetic children, such as those God gave me!). Can you believe, with all the wisdom of a 19-year-old, single, childless woman, I once actually recommended James Dobson's The Strong-Willed Child to a couple struggling with a toddler in my store? Oh boy, have I ever had to repent for that one! All the foolish things I have thought or said have come back to me with the accuracy of a firing squad at my lowest, most desperate times as a parent.
Unfortunately, at times I'm still guilty of being critical of other moms, rather than supportive. Who knows why, but for some reason, we women, who are able to develop the most intimate relationships within a small circle of friends, seem to have a hard time supporting each other on the whole, as womankind. It's as though we're involved in some kind of weird competition where we earn points by detailing others' faults—so we dissect each other's choices and methods in order to validate our own.
John's fascinating account of Jesus' encounter with the adulteress reveals with great clarity the absence of women in that ancient culture, as opposed to our stunning presence in the United States today. This poor, lonely, little woman was surrounded by a pack of arrogant, obnoxious men, some of whom she must have known personally. Where were her friends? Did she have any? None of her own gender came to her aid with a support group or a legislative campaign or a media blitz on adulteresses' rights. No, it took the sinless Savior to remind her accusers that they had all fallen short of God's standard. Whether they were judging her out of their own ignorance, or in order to prove themselves, they were unable to "trap" (verse 6) the Lord Jesus, for He knew their motives. He knew their hearts, and He knew hers, as well.
There are no perfect moms (and, by the way, no perfect children either, regardless of what your baby's grandparents say). However, if an adulteress can be acquitted by a carpenter's compassion, surely a good mom can become a better mom when she is commended rather than condemned. Let us not judge ourselves or others then, but commit today to supporting the mothers we know, through prayer, a kind word, or a reassuring note. After all, your baby's mother-in-law is out there...somewhere.
From Baby Boot Camp, Rebecca Ingram Powell (Birmingham: New Hope Publishers, 2004). Used by permission.
My prayer for today:
Jesus, may I respect people as you do. May I look at each person I meet today as an incredible human being, made in the image of God. Forgive my judgmental thoughts and foolish labeling of others. Please make me more like you. Amen.
Ask God to show you a way to encourage another mother today.
Have you been guilty of judging the way other women parent?
Have you ever felt judged or labeled yourself?
Are you thinking of someone in your life right now who needs a friend? How can you reach out to that person, respecting her and validating her with Christ-like love?
How can you support and encourage new mothers who are feeling inadequate about parenting?
Matthew 5:46, If you love only those who love you, what good is that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. (NLT)
Matthew 19:19, Love your neighbor as you love yourself. (NLT)
Luke 6:35, Love your enemies! Do good to them! Lend to them! And don't be concerned that they might not repay. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to the unthankful and to those who are wicked. (NLT)
Romans 12:10, Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. (NLT)
I Corinthians 13:2, If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. (NLT)
Baby Boot Camp: Basic Training for the First Six Weeks of Motherhood by Rebecca Ingram Powell
Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids by Sharon Jaynes
P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries