Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Kindness Wars


Warning: I am deep today. I know I proclaimed my non-deepness, and here I am again, being deep. But I promise, this is the deepest I go. I have a great post started for next time about DIY projects and how they have ruined my marriage, so hang in there with me.

I recently read a fantastic blog post about how moms all can understand each other if we choose to, because we are all moms. I loved it. It talked about ending the "mommy wars" which really resonated with me. Get off Pinterest, already. I wish there was a Pinterest for people like me. My crafts suck worse than your crafts. My snow day activities do not involve building a whole snow family. I do not want to make homemade finger paint; they sell it at Target. I do not believe my children will come out better or worse based on how early they learned to read and with what amazing program. 

What would life be like if we were all willing to freely admit when we had really screwed up and possibly ruined our kids forever? Or truly rejoice with each other with no hint of envy when we have a momentous success, like our kid being "student of the month" and plastering it on our car and knowing the mom behind us is beaming with pleasure for us instead of shopping for one of those bumper stickers that says, "my kid beat up your honor student?" What if the competition was a kindness competition? (I can feel you rolling your eyes. I am too, cynic that I am.) And yes, I believe that it is Scriptural to run in such a way as to win the prize, and I'm all for keeping score and rewards when earned, but Scripture does not say "be the best at all costs." 

That blog post got me thinking...what if all Christians were like that? Not just moms, but all Christians. What if we looked at each other and said, "You understand. You are a human." What if we chose grace (which I looked up just to be sure I'm using it correctly, and the definition is "free and unmerited favor" which I LOVE) over and over and over all day long? How would God use that to change the world?

Because it isn't just the Mommy Wars. It's all humans.

On my way to drop off two of my three darlings at school this morning, I got in a line of traffic, and then I got behind a car doing maybe 35 in a 45. The horror of driving slowly. But this lady's blog post was fresh on my mind, so instead I thought, "What if that guy up there was in a car accident, and this is his first time back on the highway, and he's a nervous wreck? Or what if her husband was killed in a car crash, and she now drives with such caution because she can't bear to think of anyone else going through that pain and figures they are better off late than dead?" 

Grace for the Slow Driver.

What about the child who was mean to my sweet daughter on more than one occasion, causing weeping and gnashing of teeth from both me and my child for whom I would die a thousand deaths? Why haven't her parents taught her any better? Why isn't she kind? Why is it so hard to NOT be mean? What if she doesn't have parents, but instead has a Grandma who is sacrificing her golden retirement years to raise this child? And sometimes she is completely exhausted, so she turns on the TV and falls asleep not knowing the girl then changes the channel to a show spewing filth that really isn't appropriate for anyone, much less a babe. 

Grace for the Bully.

Or a newborn gets a horrible disease we thought had been eradicated, but because of a recent slew of parents choosing against vaccinations new parents are now in the NICU with their precious, defenseless child who was too young to receive the inoculation. But what if those parents who chose not to vaccinate had watched their previously healthy child retreat into himself after a vaccine they had been assured was harmless, becoming a shell of the vibrant child he once was, never to laugh his silly laugh again despite their best efforts and all the therapy money can buy? And even though the President is preaching shot safety and maybe it was a coincidence, they just can't do it again, so vaccinating their second healthy child is not an option for them.

Grace for the Parents Who Make Different Choices.

Or someone was rude to me in the grocery line by making eye contact and then making a sharp right turn almost overturning his cart just to get a spot ahead of me in line. No one has ever told him he is important so he learned a long time ago to look out for Number One because no one else will.  

Grace. 

Or the girl who can't get her day going without knocking back a swallow of Jack to stop the shaking. She never used to drink, but then the abuse got so bad, and it helped her escape, and now she can't escape the shaking.

Grace.

Or the father who can't pay his rent but there sits his big screen T.V. He bought it on a 6-months-same-as-cash-plan before he knew his landlord was going to raise his rent, but all he can see is his mistake and the judgment of the people who think he actually wants to take the handout. "You must like being on welfare if you spent your money that way instead of investing it in a Roth IRA," but he never even heard those words before in any of his high school classes that focused on test scores.

Grace.

Or the mom who gives her child a Tootsie Pop and the iPad, even knowing what everyone is saying about sugar and screens, so she can somehow get through the next fifteen minutes because she just got the phone call that her husband lost his job, and needs a minute or thirty to process, but three year olds don't understand that.

Grace.

Or the woman riding my bumper making me livid. Remember the time The Oldest was throwing up blood, and I ran all the red lights trying to get her to the ER in my frantic state? Maybe she is in the same situation, so I'll just move over instead of slowing down and antagonizing her like I really want to. 

Grace.

The only reason I would ever be able to make the choice to extend grace and not get on my high horse and scream for justice is because justice has already been served. 

In all these instances, God extended grace to me first by having Someone Else take the just punishment - when I was impatient...Jesus died for that...when I desired revenge for my child...Jesus died for that...when I judged the parents, when I thought the alcoholic should just have a little more will power, when I considered myself more responsible and therefore better than the family needing assistance, when I silently chided the mom with the cart full of unhealthy groceries, when I mouthed off to the bad driver from behind the protection of my minivan windows. Jesus died for all that. He took the punishment. And I got the grace. I got the grace. I don't know what is behind the slow driving/the vaccines/the non vaccines/the alcohol/the welfare/the unhealthy choices/the rude behavior/the bullying. But I believe people are doing what they can with the tools they have.   

Please don't think I am saying I want to be loosey goosey, anything goes, no consequences, do what makes you happy. No, a big part of grace is understanding that sometimes there are consequences along with the grace. Sometimes grace looks like consequences. Like, I love you so much I will not let you participate in that destructive behavior because later on it will cause serious problems for you. I will not let you run out in the street because a car will hit you and kill you. I will help you find the help you need. I will allow you to be different from me, and I will be your friend. Contingent on nothing. The best tool I have to share, and the only one He asks me to share, is Jesus.

I always, in all situations, want to seek first to understand, and then, if necessary, to be understood. To listen without formulating my response while the person is still talking. To extend as much grace as I can, however that looks.

I would like to point out my failure in this so you don't think I am being preachy preachy. I routinely yell at my children, say mean things to my husband (or really, send him mean texts), fuss at poor drivers, am selfish with my time, my money and my possessions, and judge the people on the local news. I say ridiculous things like, "I would NEVER do that!" when in reality, I would. I am capable of anything given the right circumstance. 

In a conversation recently I was reminded of what the pastor in the church I used to go to would often say; "Cheer up! You are so much worse than you think you are!" Tomorrow, or probably two minutes after I put this post out there, I will be faced with a moment where I can, only by the power of God, choose grace. 

And it just happened. The Oldest, who has been sick and is moping around and feels just good enough to whine, is hanging over my shoulder wondering what's for supper. I am trying to understand she has been sick, and is hungry, and wants some mommy love instead of yelling about leaving me alone for just five more minutes so I can finish this post.

God will allow me to choose grace.

I just wish He'd let me choose it from the beach.

Grace,
Martha



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