Breast milk vs formula, cloth diapers vs disposable, nonmedicated delivery vs epidural, home school vs public school, discipline, shots, stay-at-home mom vs working mom &etc. etc. These topics are just a few that conjure up all kinds of mommy wars. To be honest, I do have an opinion on each of these topics. Unfortunately, you have probably heard me talk about them here (to my everlasting shame) I've tried to go back and delete what I felt would tear another mother down, and if I ever did that to you, I am so incredibly sorry. Never again will I argue these topics vehemently one way or the other, unless it is obviously contrary to Scripture. I might write about why we made the decision we made, but you will never, ever hear me bash another mother’s decisions on things that are unnecessary.
Almost 6 years ago God gave me a beautiful little girl who challenged my thinking on each of those topics listed. When my second, wild child came around I was challenged even further! Some of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make were for the well being of my children. None were taken lightly and each decision made was what we thought was best for our children. I know I am not alone in that statement.
Which is what began combating the mommy-wars in my own heart, helping me to be less combative and more compassionate. But I still struggle at times, so how do I fight against the temptation to judge my fellow mothers?
Focus on the gospel.
When the temptation arises I ask myself, is this essential or nonessential to the salvation of eternal souls? If anything is contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation - that He died on the cross for our sin, was buried and rose again - I will battle it. It is far too important not to - your eternity is at stake!
Second, I ask myself if this momma is a Christian. If she claims that she is, then I ask myself if it obviously and purposefully contrary to Scripture. If she is not a Christian, I never bring up Christian values that she does not know or want to know. I stick to the foundational gospel message in this case. God has the ability to work on hearts by recognizing you are a sinner in need of a Savior - who did indeed die on a cross, was buried and rose again. Would I, for the sake of the gospel, give up these nonessential things in light of eternity?
The gospel is the foundation upon which God builds and is the one message that guides the rest of my thinking.
Think true thoughts.
Because what I want to think is true thoughts. First, we are all sinners in need of a Savior. Stop expecting sinners to be perfect and sinless. That is what Jesus accomplished during His life on earth and He is the only one who could and can, therefore our reliance should be on Him. When my focus is taken off the issue and fixed on Him, then I am able to take an honest, eternal, and biblical approach to whatever war I want to fight.
Have an eternal perspective.
Nine times out of ten I realize that the “issue” I want to hotly debate is nonessential and a temporary one. 150 years from now will this be remembered? When we are all standing side by side in the presence of our Almighty God, will we care about this particular issue? Looking at it from an eternal perspective is essential in combating the war being built inside me.
I struggle too.
And usually this war being built inside of me is quieted because I struggle with the very same things. If I see a mom being inconsistent in her discipline, I am quieted when I realize my own inconsistencies. When I see a mom failing to use kind words, my mouth is shut when I remember the harsh words I had to apologize to my girls for yesterday. When I see a mom struggling because of all her supposed failed birth stories, I am reminded of my own very public and humbling experience when I adamantly debated a natural birth but was unable to do so.
When I witness the struggles of my fellow mothers, I am quite often reminded of my own, allowing me to give grace - just as Jesus gives me.
Finally, I memorized Ephesians 4:29-32 knowing the Holy Spirit will bring it to mind when I need the reminder,
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
So with my words I want to give grace, I want to build each other up, I want all bitterness, and wrath and anger and clamor and slander and malice be put away from me, I want to be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving, because that is what Jesus Christ accomplished for me and through me. Who am I to withhold it from someone else if our Creator, and God of the universe does not withhold it from me? These true thoughts are especially helpful in the difficult, challenging, and trying job of motherhood.
And I know I am able to accomplish these things, not because of any amazing super powers I hold, but because everything I just listed come from God and He gives freely when asked. So I frequently pray, “Lord, give me your words to build this momma up, kill these judgmental thoughts within me, remove the malice that I feel and replace it with kindness and tenderness.”
Prepare my heart and mind.
When I know that I will be in a particularly challenging situation, I pray and read Scripture before I go. I want my mind focused on Christ and I want to be prepared for whatever challenge I might face. I pray that I remain focused on the gospel of Jesus Christ, that I think true thoughts, that I keep an eternal perspective, that I give grace, and remember Scripture. I pray with bold faith knowing that whatever strength I need - God will give abundantly.
When I fail, ask forgiveness.
I also pray for strength in these moments when I need to say I'm sorry. I do not accomplish each of these things perfectly, because I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I often tell my girls, mommy needs Jesus too. Seriously, this momma needs Jesus, desperately. And it's on Him I rely. It's only because of the forgiveness He gives me that I am able to ask it from others and give it to others. This is the piece that takes the most courage and humility because admitting sin is never easy, but once I do - to God and to my fellow momma - an amazing weight is lifted and I can go back to doing my job to the best of my God-given abilities with lighter feet.
Pride must go.
Letting go of my pride is vital when I ask forgiveness, but it's necessary when trying to combat the inevitable wars that plague my mind. We all think we have the answer. That what we are doing works the best. That my opinion is the most educated. Which is rarely ever the case. Each family is different, with different needs, backgrounds, dreams, experiences, and goals. The one thing we have in common is that this momma job is hard. I have learned so much from watching and being with other mothers who are in the midst of it and who have already run that race. Letting go of my pride has been the most effective learning tool in existence - one that I can only tackle through prayer. When I let pride go, I'm always learning something new.
Where shall I put my energy?
In all that I do, I desire biblical accuracy. Especially as I raise little women in a world who hates Jesus. That in and of itself takes an enormous amount of energy. I don't have the time, the desire, or the energy to take on the wars of the world. To make straight paths God has made crooked and it is most definitely not my job to tell a mother how to mother.
But I do have hopes for mothers...
I hope that if you're a Christian you realize that mommy wars have no place in the church body. Don't let the unnecessary destroy unity or be a cause for arguing, building walls, or destroying friendships. Stick to what is necessary: biblical truth. I also hope that you seek a partnership with your spouse to be consistent as you raise your little people together in the knowledge of God, that you seek a discipleship relationship to show you the truth in Scripture, offer sound advice, and continually point you back to Christ. I also hope that you read the Bible for yourself - cover to cover - and God will work on your heart as a woman of Christ, a wife, and a mother.
It is not my job to do those things, therefore I will not battle what is unnecessary. For my own sanity's sake, and for my family, I will pour my energy into the role God has called me: as a Christian, wife, mother, disciple, discipler, and teacher. Knowing my purpose and where I need to pour my energy has also helped tremendously in combating these mommy wars.
When I consider motherhood and all that is required of us - to selflessly give ourselves to serve the needs of others no matter the weather, our imperfections, our circumstances, or our own health (cause they don't care if you're puking, hemorrhaging, sleepy, or dead to the world - they need you) - I truly believe that those mom's who go into this job with that mentality need grace, encouragement, loads of coffee, a deep tissue massage, and Jesus.