I spoke at MOPS in West Chicago last week on judgment between moms. Below is a recap of the first part of my talk.

In preparation for today, I asked a few women from different walks of life this question: Do you feel judged as a mom? And if so, in what way? And, when do you judge other moms? 

These were some of the answers:
  • When my daughter is being…well herself in public. I can just feel the pressure to make her be cheery and obedient.
  • I feel judged for being unstructured and disorganized.
  • I let my kids dress themselves. I feel judged when they look ridiculous.
  • I judge. Not always intentionally. I judge moms who hover—“helicopter moms”—I let my kids make wrong choices and mistakes because I want them to learn for themselves. So, I think helicopter moms are doing it wrong. On good days, I let those moms off the hook. When I need to feel good about myself, I don’t. 
  • I was much more judgmental when I had 1 child. I thought I was an awesome parent. As I had more, it became apparent to me that it is more about who they are, rather than what I was doing as a mom.
  • I was at a baby shower and all of these moms were pulling out all of their organic snacks, cloth diapers, organic chew toys, organic butt paste, and organic baby slings (not kidding). I just wanted to save them from themselves. None of that stuff really matters.
  • I felt judged when I was pregnant and considering birth options.
  • I felt judged when I had my first kid and did not adhere to all the philosophies of my friends.
  • Judged by far the most when I fed my firstborn son formula and friends and strangers alike felt free to upbraid me without learning any of the details of my life.
  • I feel judged both for being a “working mom” and for being a “stay at home mom” (the knife cuts both ways!)
  • I feel judged, very judged, for sending my kids to public school.
  • I feel judged by my friends, but only a little. Mostly by strangers and by the internet, Culture, I suppose.  
  • I feel judged by myself.  
  • Judged for what I wear. I’m either too dressed up, or not dressed up enough in other’s eyes.
  • I judge other moms for how they handle germs and sickness.
  • I judge other moms for having a different breast feeding philosophy than my own.
  • I don’t feel nearly as judged as I did in the first few years-by baby number three I’m impervious to other’s judgment. Because, I’m a super mom now. 
  • I judge other moms for things I worry I’m failing at too – not disciplining their kids right, or feeding them wrong. I judge other moms for things that I do entirely the opposite of, and worry I might have chosen wrong.

Hopefully you aren’t in a terrible mood now. 
The point is, we judge each other. We may not mean to and it may not be with our good friends, but if we think we don’t judge each other, we are probably lying to ourselves.

At the end of the day, we judge each other because we are sinful and prideful. But I also think we judge because the job of mothering can at times be so unrewarding. Not to say that we don’t love our children. But so much of our day—so many of our sacrifices— go unseen. When we see a mom who maybe isn’t doing it exactly the way we would do it, we can grasp at that little straw— YES! I’m better at that than she is. We judge to make ourselves feel better. 
I want to look at Luke chapter one, even though it’s not Christmas time (I’m SO ready for Christmas!) because this little scene between Mary and Elizabeth is a beautiful picture of what women can be for one another.

Luke 1:39-49

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zecheriah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.” And Mary sang: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. 
From now on all generations will call me blessed. 
For the mighty one has done great things for me—holy is his name.

Here are two women who have just received big news. Elizabeth is in her sixties, and is going to give birth to John the Baptist—a prophet, who will live in the wilderness and prepare people with the message that Jesus is coming. Mary, in her teens, receives the news that she is going to give birth to the SON OF GOD. I mean, come on!

This is slightly overwhelming information. 

Elizabeth has dealt with infertility her entire marriage. In her culture, infertility was always the woman’s fault. She was considered defected somehow and Elizabeth would have been mocked (definitely behind her back) possibly even publicly.

Also, Jewish teachers often insisted that men who had barren wives divorce them and marry a younger child-bearing woman.

Luke tells us earlier in chapter one that Elizabeth and her husband Zecheriah were blameless in the sight of God, faithful to Him.

Elizabeth was a daughter of a generation of priests and married to a priest. He was a leader and teacher in their religious community. But, you know he had his little teacher buddies whispering in his ear—Leave Elizabeth. Find yourself a young and fertile woman.

It’s safe to assume that Elizabeth felt judged.

If she felt judged, on the other hand, we have Mary—Elizabeth’s friend and cousin, who just received word that she is going to have a baby as a virgin.

All of the sudden her reputation is on the line, her future marriage to Joseph is on the line, her honor—you can imagine catty women were like, “Sure, Mary. Sure, you’re a virgin.”

One woman is pregnant far later in the game than expected. The other far earlier—you know they felt judged and probably dealt with some moments of insecurity.

But, these two women come together at Elizabeth’s house and create this safe, judgment-free zone for each other.

God is so good and tender. Here he is, about to change the history of the world forever by sending Jesus into it. He is about to overthrow power, reverse world order, set people free from sin and shame and bondage. And in the middle of operating on this grand, life-altering scale, He still tends to the human needs of His people.

He gives Mary and Elizabeth each other to help them through this crazy time.

In verse 39, Luke writes, “At that time, Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country in Judea.”

I love that Luke includes this little detail—Mary hurried to Elizabeth’s house.

In Jewish culture, pregnant women stayed in hiding until about they were about six months along. So for Mary to be traveling at this time was incredibly unusual. Not only that, young women didn’t even walk around their village unaccompanied. So, for Mary to travel 70 miles away (a 3-5 day journey) was completely unheard of. 

But in spite of all this, Mary rushes to be with her friend.

I read a commentator who wasn’t sure why Luke would add that detail. And I’m no scholarly authority, so don’t put money on this…but I think Mary rushes, to her friend’s house, because she is a woman! 

We need each other when we are overwhelmed.

Not only that, but the angel Gabriel told Mary that her friend and cousin, after all of this time, is finally pregnant. I think Mary, knowing her friend’s shame, wants to celebrate with her!

If I’m going through a difficult season in marriage or with my children; if my has toddler pooped on the floor again, it’s always reassuring to know that another woman can relate to what I am going through. 

A blog-reader (shameless woman!) just told me she discovered her son has been hiding a secret booger wall in his room. She was mortified. But, it was so nice for me to hear—My kids aren’t the only crazy ones!!!

When we’re losing our minds, when we grieve, when we fail, and even when we have great victories, God has given us each other and when we let judgment and insecurity get in the way of rushing to each other’s side, we miss out on God’s good gift of friendship.

More on Mary and Elizabeth later. 

In the meantime, when do you feel judged? And when do you judge others? And, is there a friend whose side you need to rush to today?

And remember, our first giveaway is coming up next week!

An autographed copy of Shannon Ethridge’s upcoming book, The Fantasy Fallacy (A Christian Response to 50 Shades of Gray, and more)! 

You are entered automatically if you hit the “like the shamelessness” button, and you receive a double-entry for commenting. 

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