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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Judging the Judgmental and Our Moms

God managed to find us, even though we were rural, poor, and without a car.  We lived along a church bus route. I should have been thanking God for this for 38 years.  Embarrassingly, I've done more pouting than praising.  I can count the souls saved in our family alone at 19, all beginning with that church bus.  The vine tangles out into the world in many ways as we've each interacted and worked in ministries ourselves.

Embarrassment and shame breeds an ungracious heart, and after I left that church, my heart looked back with suspicion, mistrust and blame.  Some deserved, some imagined.  I carried embarrassment for sins committed by me as a young girl, and by my divorced parents.  I've harbored resentment for the legalistic atmosphere, and rarely expressed any words of gratitude for their part in my salvation.  I overlooked the incredible gift of a loving, generous and kind Sunday School teacher.  Mrs. Charlotte Ramsey was both beautiful and happy - and I still smile when I think of her.

Shortsighted, I allowed myself to dwell on the negatives. I was ungrateful for that church's willingness to reach lost kids like me, kids without a dime to put in the offering plate.  That church was where God courted the broken heart of a little girl, as though she mattered.

I've been the same in my recollections of my childhood family life.  We didn't have much, that's easy to remember.  The childhood hurts and disappointments were ugly raw wounds for a very long time, and I believed my parents could have shielded me from all pain.  In our family, this expectation was a tradition.

Those expectations foster woundedness and ingratitude.  I taught my own daughters to hold people accountable and protect themselves.  Apparently, I thought my experiences would make me into a perfect mother, able to fend off every injury for my own children - and thus be exempt from this ever coming back to bite me in the butt.  (In case you're still innocent enough to believe this is possible – it isn't.)

There is only one God.  Only he knows the secret workings of our hearts, the inner needs and the unspoken hurts.  Mothers don't.  (Churches don't either.) And not only do our children belong to God - so do our mothers.  I'm not my mother's judge.  As well as I think I know her, God knows her infinitely better.  She actually had a name before Mom, an identity that has nothing to do with me and everything to do with God, her creator. 

Over the past 5 years, the truth of my mother's identity has slowly become evident to me.  This year, I realized something shocking.  While Mom always accepted and loved me for who I am, I haven't done the same.  My approval was reserved for some sort of superhero - a woman capable of protecting me from every hurt, able to rid my childhood of vulnerability, wounds and disappointment, and supernaturally know me in a way only God could. I believed this SuperMom would customize her parenting style and abilities to be MY perfect mother.  Of course, my sister needed a different model, and my brother...

I don't want to be imprisoned in memories of disappointment, pain and injustice.  There is another option.  There are memories of joy, tenderness and laughter. I don't want my mother trapped in my judgments, feeling as though she owed me something I was cheated out of.  That's the work of the enemy.  I'm setting us both free.

Philippians 4:8  "Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things."


  1. I have a friend who opened my eyes in the last few years to this truth about my Mom. I had always held her to a higher standard than anyone else. She was an individual woman before she had children - as children we often forget that. Thanks for reminding us!

  2. Thank you for stopping by and sharing a comment, Sue. I agree with you - we apparently think OUR mothers are capable of more than the average mother. That COULD be a compliment, right?