“If I speak God’s Word with power…and if I have faith… but I don’t love, I’m nothing.”
-1 Corinthians 13:2
“What did you say to me?” she asked quietly.
With a red face, she bent down behind the shopping cart. Partly to get at eye level, I’m sure, but also to hide her anger and embarrassment.
“I said, ‘shut up!’” he screamed, pushing at her arms
I gasped and quickly pushed my cart past them. To be honest, my first thought was less than gracious. I probably even rolled my eyes. But then I was stopped by a tiny whisper:
“You don’t know her story, Malinda." I cringed. "Who are you to cast judgment?", came the second blow. I hung my head in guilt for being so quick to judge.
These words were truth: I didn’t know the whole story.
Maybe he’d just returned from three days with the grandparents (because I always need to recalibrate my kids after such an event). It could be that he hadn’t taken his medicines for the day, had missed a nap, was in need of a snack, or was dealing with grief, loss, or abuse.
Or maybe he was just a normal child testing boundaries. You know, the thing that every kid does. Perhaps it was just “one of those days” for that momma.
A day just like I have. The kind of day that I want to lock my once-sweet-angels in their room forever, or lock myself in mine. One of those days where I find myself in the middle of Target with a red face, and in hushed tones threatening “no TV for the rest of the week!”
My mind raced through different scenarios and with each one, my heart softened. I asked God to forgive my quick judgments and prideful heart. I remember turning to look at her, and having to choke back tears.
Because I’ve been there. Most of us have. In fact, if you haven’t, just wait, I think it's part of parenting initiation. And when you do find yourself in the midst of “one of those days” remember: you are not alone.
You can calculate the nap schedule, pack enough snacks for an entire army of small people, and do everything that you read in some parenting book, and still be the mom standing over a three-year-old who is stretched out on the floor in full meltdown mode, or throwing things from the cart and shouting “shut up!” at you.
And while bad behavior needs to be disciplined, I think we are often quick to deal with the screaming child, but dismiss the attitudes that remain hidden in our heart and mind. Just because it isn’t obvious doesn’t make it less ugly.
Let’s work to replace accusations with mercy. Condemnation with grace. Cruelty with compassion. Judgment with love. And not just because Jesus commands us to, but because it’s how we want others to treat us.
Malinda is a wife, mother of two, and lives in Southern California, even though she still calls Canada “home." She believes that a fuller life is an intentional one, and loves to use words to encourage others on her blog, as well as on Instagram as @maleefuller.