But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!”
Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.
As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died. Acts 7:55-60
Having children instantly inducted me into the huge group of women who have motherhood in common. In theory, that would mean that everyone gets along and walks the journey together, side-by-side, the more experienced giving encouragement to the newer ‘members’. But more often than not, as a mom, I am inevitably drawn into the ‘mommy wars’ – to vaccinate or not to vaccinate, breast milk or formula, crib or co-sleep, no cry or cry it out, conventional parenting or attachment parenting, control or free range, traditional school or homeschool, stay-at-home or work, and the list goes on.
As I have parented, I have had to make choices about what I feel is best for me and my family. Sometimes my decisions are met with acceptance and support from the other people around me, and sometimes my ideas differ and I am criticized for my philosophies.
Like most people, I tend to align myself with other mothers who are like-minded, allowing for harmony and a safety net for being real with each other. However, without intending to be impolite or provoking, sometimes the truth of my own experience is offensive to others. There have been quite a few times that I have been ridiculed, condemned by the ‘judge and jury’ because my parenting methods were different from ‘theirs’, because of dissimilar attitudes, diverse cultures, or generation gaps.
One particular instance, when I was figuratively stoned for a parenting choice, I did a lot of soul searching afterward. My heart was broken because I was already questioning my value and worth as a mother; I had been struggling a lot with typical 2-3’s disciplinary issues and I was feeling low and defeated. Over time I have realized that there are moments that I have to choose my battles with my kids to be an effective parent, but the issue I chose to ignore on that day brought an onslaught of verbal ‘rocks’. I was so caught off guard that I didn’t have time to get defensive, and I believe that was a God-send.
The Lord showed me facets to the barrage that enabled me to have better grasp of the situation and of the person behind it. He showed me the importance of forgiveness and helped me release the insult, no longer holding the ‘sin’ of misunderstanding against someone I care for. He filled my spirit with peace and I was able to let go of the offense.
I’ll admit that in the past, I’ve gotten caught up in a skirmish or two, a volley of metaphorical stones. But, I know now that I cannot forget that we are all really on the same team –a force of people who love our children. I will stand strong in my beliefs, my own history of parenting. But, it is important to resist the temptation to battle, and instead do everything I am able to forgive and offer grace to those who disagree, with my primary goal being connection – to God, other parents, and to my children respectively.
Yesappa, Thank You for giving me the opportunity to be a mother. Thank You for leading me through this journey of motherhood; and thank You for giving me opportunities to learn how to stay connected and forgiving, even when people don’t agree with my decisions in parenting. Help me continue to see each situation through the eyes of Your compassionate heart and give me wisdom in my interactions. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Blessings – Julie, Sholavandan, India (written in the U.S.A.)
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.