B-Mama had a great post regarding one aspect of what I was planning on touching on today. It is all too easy for us Moms to feel serious, burdensome guilt. It is a tremendous tactic of the devil.
On the flip side, it is also so easy for us to judge others. The ivy league competitor in us has always had a means by which to compare ourselves with others. Test scores, grades, athletics. We could always see how we measured up with others. I am often uncomfortable without feedback, without knowing how well I did something or getting a pat on the back.
But what a far cry this is from the Christian way of life! We have but one judge and one savior and must seek to do everything for His glory.
I don't think I realized how quickly I could pass judgment until I became a mother and felt the Mommy guilt myself. I had a mental list of "things I would never do" with my kids. (Ha, all seasoned mothers can laugh at such a thought!).
The biggest shock to me was being unable to nurse my babies despite extreme efforts to do so. Before babies I was trying to decide if I would EVER give my child a bottle or a binky. It was a hugely humbling experience not to have these choices. However, I felt so judged by other mothers every time I had to feed my baby a bottle in public. With my first baby, I would find a way to work it into the first 2 minutes of conversation that I couldn't nurse so that I wouldn't be deemed a "bad" mommy. With Jack-Jack, it was a huge mortification for me not to justify myself to other moms and to try to humbly give my silence to God.
I recently met a sweet woman at our new parish who managed to work into our conversation after just a few minutes that she and her husband had been trying to have a baby since they were married, but it was not God's will yet. It was so painfully obvious that she was afraid of being judged by me, a young Catholic mother.
Several weeks ago I read this passage in In Conversation with God (the series Mary Alice mentioned recently):
"The person who is always seeking the approval or applause of others can easily deform his own conscience. The rule of action then becomes what people will say, rather than the will of God....the first thing we have to do with our actions is to please Christ...human judgments are often wrong."
How true this is! Last week I was complimented leaving the Blessed Sacrament chapel around 10am for bringing my two boys. Little did the woman know that far from being the recollected and sweet mother that she was imagining, I desperately needed to make a visit as I had already spent the early morning yelling at a grumpy toddler and feeling sorry for myself with my husband out of town and was just trying to get my day back on track. Our judgments are often wrong.
St. Paul tells us that, "I will not even pass judgment on myself...The Lord alone is my judge." So often we want the admiration of others here and now! Fernandez reminds us of how the Gospel reading of the Pharisees tells us, "The have received their reward." He goes on, the Pharisees, "got what they wanted: a glance of approval, a gesture of admiration, some words of praise. And shortly there would be nothing left but dust, and nothing at all for eternal life. What a terrible failure to lose so much for so little!"
We must be so mindful of our intentions. There is nothing wrong with making a fancy birthday cake or using baby sign language as long as we can sincerely say that we are doing it not to show off, but to glorify God through the service of our family. (This coming from a former cake decorator!) We must not compare ourselves with or judge ourselves against others. But rather, let us encourage each other in our unique circumstances, with our unique gifts, to "do everything for the glory of God."