For many years, I worked as a childcare worker and loved every minute of it. I had the energy to come into a class of three-year-olds, sing songs, pull out the felt board and tell Bible stories, spend endless time coloring and listening to the sweetest kids tell stories and talk about the world as they saw it.
I knew that parenting would be the same marvelous feeling, only 24/7. Ha. Ha. Ha. There are three “ha”, one for each of my kids. There should be a fourth for my husband, but I don’t think he’d like that.
Anyway, years later as a mom, I remember being asked to volunteer in a Sunday school class. I agreed and found it to be the most draining experience, mostly because I was already drained from everyday with little kids.
So as a childcare worker, turned mom, I have some confessions that I feel I must share. See, occasionally, I would draw conclusions about good and bad parenting skills based on observations of the children, but now I realize how absurd I really was.
I remember judging a single mom who had a toddler girl. I had heard all sorts of rumors from her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend, which didn’t help my opinion, but her daughter always had clothing with stains on them. To my childless self, this clearly was a sign of bad parenting. I mean, how hard is it to change an outfit if it gets dirty? Flash forward five years and I’m buying pre-stained clothes at a tag sale for a quarter because I realize it’ll get stained at some point anyway. I even cringe when I put my kids in “nice” clothes because I know it’ll only be nice for a few minutes.
Another judgment that I’d make a long the same lines was if a child had visible dirt on them. Clearly, they weren’t being given baths frequently enough at home. Last Sunday, my son looked like a pirate after spending the afternoon in the garage, building things with his dad. I popped him in the car and handed him a baby wipe to clean off the black from his face as we headed off to church. There’s no keeping kids clean, just constant maintenance to keep them running efficiently while they drive in the mud every chance they get.
The moral of the story is that we need to have empathy for each other, no matter what the situation is. Soon enough, life will teach us enough lessons that we’ll overflow with that empathy, but if we walk with compassion and understanding towards others, we wear a badge that shows a level of honor and maturity which typically comes only from years of life.
When the Pharisees dragged the woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus feet, he knelt down in the sand and wrote something. The Pharisees kept pressing him for an answer to try to trap him in a violation of the law; instead Jesus said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:8). The crowd began to dwindle, starting with the older ones because they had the humility and understanding of their pasts. Then the younger ones began to get the point and went home too. Soon, only Jesus was left standing; the perfect Son of God who lived without sin, healing all the sick and setting the captives free. Out of everyone in the crowd, Jesus had the right to start throwing stones.
But He didn’t. Instead, John records:
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
11 “No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”(John 8:10-11).
We see a glimpse of underserved mercy. Mercy that comes straight from the heart of heaven and made manifest in the Son of God. When we show mercy and understanding to others we’re showing them Jesus. If Jesus hadn’t shown her mercy and went right along with the Law, the woman wouldn’t have lived long enough to experience the love of a savior. She would have been slowly crushed to death under the weight of judgement.
Let’s empty our pockets of stones to throw and focus on showing people Jesus’s love and mercy so that they might live long enough to experience the love and freedom that only Jesus can offer. Plus, carrying around stones only weighs you down. Release those to Jesus and follow his example instead.
is a writer & tired homeschooling mom of five.