I wrote this when I was a little upset, left it, and then I calmed down and decided to re-edit it. I rewrote this iteration with a level head, and I have kept it in draft for several weeks, and I’m still hesitant to post it. I hope it will be received in the same tone it is offered.
When I was eight months pregnant, a woman in a church we were relatively new to came up to me and struck up a conversation. She asked when the baby was estimated to be born, if we knew whether the baby was a boy or girl and if I planned on continuing to work once the baby was born. I answered all of her questions, “the baby’s due February 20; he’s a little boy; and I will most likely be returning to work after he’s born.”
She looked at me sadly when I answered the last question. She told me how she quit her job when her first child was born, and she had the full support of her husband, who told her the most important job she’d ever have would be to be home with her children. I smiled and nodded. And then she asked me why I was going back to work. Before I answered, which, honestly, I wasn’t sure what I would have said, she told me “you’d be surprised with how little [income] you really need.” Again, I smiled and nodded.
We walked out of the sanctuary, and I cried the whole way home. I was mad and I was sad. I thought out loud, “it’s none of her business why we are making the decisions we are making.” That was the angry side. The side who is defensive and protective of the sad part of me. The sad side of me wanted to hand the woman our monthly budget so she could see where we allocate every dollar we earn. I wanted to explain to her, on paper, that my income isn’t optional for my family right now. I wanted to show her why I do what I do, and why I make the choices I make.
I don’t think this woman’s intentions were cruel. She was a very kind woman to speak with, and I am thankful she approached us newcomers and made us feel welcome. What I wish I could tell her is how her words about our family’s situation are like ripping flypaper from my heart. When I try to take the words off, it hurts, and they still stick.
Don’t we all know how much work our own lives take?
Perhaps I am sensitive to this topic because I have a sense of sadness regarding it. Thankfully, I get to work with some fantastic friends, friends who have made the transition easy and my time away from Shepherd seemingly shorter because of their great friendship to me.
I was home with my son for twelve weeks of pure joy. I savored every moment of it, but it was work! I wouldn’t say to a mom who stays at home that her job is easy. And, if I stayed at home, I wouldn’t tell a mom who had a job outside of the home that she is doing a disservice to her children or infer that she should be at home with her child instead. I have been on both sides, albeit briefly, and it hurts my stomach to see that these accusations continue, whether they are in conversation with one another or, especially, when they are behind each other’s backs. I’m using this as a challenge to myself to be better in my assumptions and snap judgments, especially when it comes to being a mom.
Also, I read this and found it so comforting. I hope, if you are going through something similar in your own walk, it will encourage you and bring you peace as well. It’s from Romans.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean. If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking,but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, because anyone who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and receives human approval.
Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall.
So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves.