The adage “sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a lie. Wounds from words can hurt more and longer than a physical injury. And sadly, it isn’t only kids who do it. We adults can be victims of family members, friends or acquaintances making us feel less than good enough.
But we would never do that to someone else. Right?
I spent some time last week with a friend whose youngest child is barely 3. Her days consist of common activities and responsibilities for one with young children. Yet, in listening to her, it was obvious she feels abnormal at times.
The big topic of discussion was potty training. I observed two things. One, it’s been a topic of conversation for her before. That’s not surprising, but it was apparent. For example, she said things like, “Some people might ask if…” or, “Some people might say…” And she recited both the questions AND the answers.
Two, it seemed her self-confidence as a mom hinged in part on her youngest being able to appropriately place body waste. And somehow, the fact that she has already helped her older children move from pull-ups to toilet means very little with her youngest not quite there.
I don’t think she has an inappropriate obsession with children using a toilet instead of diapers or pull-ups. Anyone who parents infants and toddlers dreams of a day when they are no longer necessary.
No, I’m afraid it’s worse than that. She has been in comparison conversations with other moms — and found herself on the short end. When you’re working toward something, it is frustrating to hear those who have accomplished it act like it was nothing. “My little Johnny trained himself in 2 days.” “We just (insert favorite tip here) and it was easy!” (Yeah, right.) And with social media, we can carelessly hurt each other with a single keystroke.
She used a phrase I hadn’t heard before — Mommy Bashing. Apparently I’ve been living under a rock because I googled mommy bashing today and within .06 seconds had 10 pages of links related to it.
We didn’t call it mommy bashing when I was a young mother (probably because we did not have #socialmedia) (#goodolddays), but I recognize it. It’s the comparison game, when one mom puts down another mom’s choice or process to make herself feel better. Or when one mom exaggerates something she or her child did to look superior. She may not be a “mean girl;” she may be sharing to be “helpful.”
But that is not the kind of help moms need. And all moms need help and support. In fact, all people need help and support.
My illustration involves parenting, but the comparisons cross into every phase of life for both men and women.
I deal with it. It doesn’t take much leave me buried in insecurity.
And, sadly, my words have hurt others.
Jesus addressed this with his disciples. During the Last Supper. Right before he sweat blood in the garden and was arrested, tried and crucified.
Luke 22 tells us the story. During the Last Supper, Jesus says one of them will betray him. Verse 23 says, “The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing.” It segues right into verse 24 that says, “Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.” I wish I were kidding.
The pivotal moment in history is about to happen, and the disciples, who were less than two months from taking the gospel to the world, go from “It is not me,” to “I’m very important and here’s why,” in the blink of an eye.
After Jesus sighed heavily and thought about replacing them all, (that’s not in scripture, but it may have happened), he said, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people,… But among you it will be different.”
Are we different? Are we observing the No Lording mandate?
It’s natural to want to look good to other people. It’s natural to want to feel good about ourselves. But Jesus calls us to be supernaturally filled with the Holy Spirit, and therefore, different than the world.
We all need people around us to support us. And people need us to support them.
I love the running community. Sure, one person will be proclaimed the “winner” of a race. But often, the winner is around to cheer for the last person to finish. Why? Because there’s room for everyone to cross the finish line. While it takes personal endurance to finish the race, the winner knows sometimes endurance can be bolstered with a little encouragement. I want to be an encourager. How about you? Can you think of someone who could use your support?
And a personal note to my mommy friend: You are caring and loving. Your children have fun with you. You provide stability for them in a very unstable world. They know Jesus because of you. They sleep soundly at night because they are settled and content. I hope you sleep well tonight,too, whether the little guy is in a pull-up or big boy pants. I love you.