Grace to Silence The Voices In My Headposted on July 23rd, 2010 / by Rebecca Gates / 18 Comments
After I had my second baby boy only 15 and a half months after his older brother, people used to say to me in their most sympathetic tone, “Don’t worry, just make it through the first year, and it gets easier.” The saddest part about that statement is that it was a big fat lie! It actually didn’t get easier until about five or six years later. Good thing I didn’t hold my breath–although at times I would have liked to hold it until I passed out and could get a little rest. Like the time I was neck deep in laundry when I heard my eldest boy calling me, “Mom! It’s an emergency!”
I slowly picked myself off the floor and followed the screams to the bathroom. It was there that every horror movie I had ever seen flashed quickly through my thoughts, and not one of them was as scary as what was unfolding before me. I could hear the theme song for Halloween playing in my mind, and it was as if Freddy Krueger himself was oozing over the toilet and all over my floor. I found myself standing in an inch deep of poop water, and all I wanted to do was scream for my Mom to come and save me. Holding my breath and hoping it all went away was not an option. I was the only mom who was available to save the day, so I did what I had to do and cleaned up the nastiest mess all by my big girl self.
I suppose that is the best way to describe what mothers do all over the world. We do what we have to do so that our children and our homes are safe. We sacrifice our own needs kind of instinctively to take care of our little ones who for years to come may never thank us or even notice how we have laid down our lives for them.
Those days weren’t so long ago for me: having two in diapers, potty training, having children who were completely reliant on me for every one of their needs. Those were the days where sleepless nights met spilled milk at breakfast and tantrums in public while the world watched and judged me for my incompetence. I could feel the burning in my back while I was trying to deal with my son’s bad behavior, and I knew what the other shoppers were all thinking. “That child just needs a good spanking,” or “Doesn’t that mother know how to keep her kids in line?” It sounded so familiar to me. Why did it sound so familiar?
Four years earlier I was standing in line behind a lady and her disobedient son. I rolled my eyes and shifted my body as he screamed again. The mother seemed to be ignoring the chaos that was ruining my shopping experience, so I decided to let out a little passive aggressive sigh to get her attention. It was all I could do to keep from tapping her shoulder and declaring, “Don’t you know how to keep your child in line!?”
This scenario of feeling judged continued to play out day after day at grocery stores, family gatherings, airplanes, and doctors’ offices with me and my kids. It is what the Bible warned me about if only I had listened. “Judge not lest you be judged.” Mathew 7:1. Now that I was a mother, every judgment I had ever made on other moms and their children was coming back to haunt me. I heard my very own words tormenting me in my head.
I have been a mom for nine years now. I spend most of my time with other moms and I see our world a little differently now that I actually know what I am talking about. Before I had kids I only THOUGHT I knew what I was talking about. I have learned that any perfect child, given the right set of circumstances will act out. And I have also learned that there is no such thing as a perfect child. No matter how hard I ride my boys, they will still at times embarrass me, which is fine because someday they will be teens, and I will get to reciprocate. If you take a happy child to run errands half the day, and then try to squeeze in one more errand at naptime, it is a sure disaster waiting to happen. Now when I see a young mom with a fussy toddler at the check out stand I smile to myself and think, “Poor mama thought she could squeeze in one more stop today.” I no longer assume that the child is always such a rascal, nor that his mama is a bad parent because maybe she wanted to get everything done today so that she didn’t have to leave the house the rest of the week.
Now that I am a mom and understand what we go through, I have grace for these public meltdowns in other families, and I have more grace for my children and myself. I am thankful that God has changed my heart of judgment and my perspective. Yet it saddens me to think of my boys’ early years and how as a young mom I was robbed of just enjoying them the way they were. They were toddlers and what a surprise! They acted just like toddlers! I was a new mom still learning (some things never change), making some mistakes, doing some things great. What joy I missed out on because I didn’t silence the voices … my voice in my head!
If you’re a mom in the thick of mothering little ones, I just want to say to you, “RELAX.” You’re doing a good job. Your children are just being children; it’s kind of their job. Maybe you have made some judgments that are haunting you. They are stealing your joy and causing you to strive instead of enjoy. Our job is hard enough without adding undue pressure to please perfect strangers with our children’s behavior. Save your energy for potty training and toilet bowl plunging. But when your little man is on an airplane and his ears are hurting and he’s crying, just comfort him and relax. Who cares what anyone else is thinking? The most important person on that plane to you is your sweet baby.
Even if you’re not a parent, the same principle applies. Judge not lest you be judged. If you can’t put yourself in someone else’s shoes then don’t try to pretend you have the answers to their problems and could do a better job then they can. Choose to believe the best about others and let grace cover what people cannot do on their own … achieve perfection.
When we learn to walk in grace towards others, it silences the voices in our head, and we experience God’s peace even when we fail.
What voices are in your head? Tune your ear unto grace.
Father, I repent for the judgments I have made on others. I ask you to teach me to listen to grace and to extend grace. I thank you that your love covers me. It is big enough to cover all of my mistakes in the past and even today’s mistakes. I know I can’t be perfect, but I receive your grace to cover those things in myself and my children that I can’t perfect, but you can do the work through your Holy Spirit.