Someone took the time to write a comment on a blog of mine the other day (not here) that was long, and I think, intended to teach me a lesson (it's been taken down, so don't worry about trying to find it). And while I don't think she was trying to hurt me, she did. From her comment, I can deduce that her children are grown, and doing well. Women in this season of life have a unique, special, and God-given opportunity to minister to women like me, teaching me along the lines of Titus 2:4-5 to love my husband and children, and be self-controlled. Honestly, the church needs more women in this stage of life to rise up and invest in the next generation. We're desperate for help, wisdom, someone to tell us we're doing OK, and gently instruct us in how to do better.
But I've been seeing something among the body of believers that just breaks my heart—women who have raised their children well, totally missing the point of Titus 2—cutting instead of cleansing, bruising instead of bandaging, crucifying instead of edifying.
Why is it that we would rather bruise than bandage? (<<--tweet that).
What I wrote about was a specific season of our lives—a specific day really—that was tough and felt out of control. And while I do write a lot about those days (because I know we all have them, and I want to encourage you to cling to God through them), our days aren't always out of control. We have some good ones too. But she somehow missed that, and assumed that our lives are like this all the time.
I'm strong enough in my faith to evaluate what people say about me through the lens of prayer, scripture, and my inner circle of friends who really know me. But even though I went through this process with her comment, and found it to be untrue, I had a hard time shaking it off.
We're coming out of a rough season at The McGlothlin Home for Boys. Surgery, sickness, and book deadlines have made us all weary, and in some ways, our defenses are down. So each time my boys have disobeyed me this week, I've heard her words accusing me, "you need to control your children..." and honestly, it's been an intentional fight on my part to put those words firmly in their place (behind me...).
I've written before about how the online space seems to give us license to be mean, but this type of mean literally breaks my heart. Not just because of the way it affects me, but because I know that many of you out there who read what I write aren't in a strong place in your faith. You're grappling, struggling, and holding on by a thread.
Beyond that, not all of us have easy children. Some of you are dealing with situations out of your control that literally crush you under a weight of guilt and fear every day, and it takes every ounce of strength you have to trust Jesus through it.
There's no place for "you need to control your children..." in that.
Please understand, I'm not saying we don't all need to work hard to teach and train our children (to obey, to love others, to be kind, to love Jesus), but when you don't know a person...don't really know what they're going through, and only have a small glimpse of the life they lead, those words are just better off unsaid.
So here's my heartfelt plea to you, mama—the one who has raised her children well, and now has a wonderful opportunity to pour into those of us still mucking through the hard season of mothering.
Be nice. Use your words to build us up, not to crush our spirits. If you see things from afar, keep your thoughts to yourself until you've taken the time to know us. Because what you see from afar might not be the reality. This works both ways, actually. If we're obviously struggling, reach out and give us your time, space, ministry, and love. And if we're smiling on the outside, we might be dying on the inside. Reach out, give us your time, space, ministry , and love.
Your words carry more weight than you know, and the enemy of our souls wants to take them and allow them to eat away at our confidence in God's ability to redeem our mess.
We need you to be nice.
We need you to speak life. We need you to care more about the health of our souls than putting us in our place and making us feel bad for our mistakes.
Don't miss this opportunity to leave a legacy...especially if you did it well.
Next time you get a criticism (whether online or off), consider following these simple rules to figure out if it's worth your time.
- Pray and ask Jesus to protect your heart, but also to reveal any truth you need to see.
- Go to God's word and let it teach you on the subject at hand. Are you wrong? Is the person who has hurt you approaching you with a correct spirit? Are they trying to edify or crucify? The answer to those questions go a long way in how you receive the criticism.
- Ask the people who know you best how they see the criticism. Be open to their answer, even if it's negative, but in general, trust the people who really know you over people who don't. Words written on a page can be misconstrued. It's harder to do that when you're walking out life with someone.
Pray with me, friend?
Lord, we all get it wrong sometimes. It can be hard to see our own faults, especially for those of us just trying to survive a difficult time. We do need people to come alongside us and show us our sin, and we know you discipline those you love. Protect us today from those who come only to bruise instead of bandage, and bring us loving women who have raised their children well to come alongside us and lead us to you. In Jesus' Name.
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