This morning, I was laying in bed and enjoying the chance not to have to jump immediately into the frenzy of the day . Also, though, as I tend to do, I was brooding and brooding about a conversation that happened on my page yesterday (and why do I seem to specialize in controversy?) As many have seen, I started a post with a mention of bragging and it being rude and a few people needed to set me straight. Nobody meant to and their comments were well-intentioned and thoughtful but I still felt a bit... lesser. I also worried because we had been with good friends yesterday and at one point, we had been talking about the awesome success one of their kids was having at school. It was NOT a boasting conversation at all, just a celebration of an amazing kid who has clearly found his talents and we were all really excited to see him thriving. I brooded because I was afraid that they might read my comments and think that I was talking about them with bragging, which I absolutely was NOT!
That’s when it hit me. I know what I need to give up for Lent. Judgement, especially of other parents.
We all do it and for me, it’s an occupational hazard. Teachers are terrible for wanting to blame parents for everything that we see as either a weakness in their children or an inconvenience to us. There’s a movement in schools by teachers to criticize families for lunches that are not healthy enough. Teachers judge parents for not following our rules closely enough (such as sending treats for the class at Valentine’s Day - didn’t they see the note saying no junk food for the class this year?) We judge parents whose kids aren’t dressed for the weather. We judge parents who don’t fill out the reading log correctly. Facebook is the venue for so much judgement. I, for one, feel a bit diminished every time I see an attack on “Pinterest” moms and their extravagant parties and class treats. I gather it is seen as being my need to impress other parents and to compete when I send in Valentines that I see as being something special to show the kids I think they are great. I’m not thinking about what anyone else is doing and I am not doing to impress anyone but evidently, some parents, moms especially, see that as my need to be the best. I see the criticisms of “helicopter parents” who don’t let their kids have adventurous play outside thanks to fear and I see the judgement of parents whose kids aren’t closely supervised enough. We judge each other ALL THE TIME and it leaves us all smaller for it.
At our study group on Wednesday night, we had an interesting discussion about what Lent is all about and why people give things up. It was interesting and got me thinking about something that I have just done for years without really pondering. The definition I saw somewhere (I wish I could remember where) afterwards when I did some follow up reading, was that Lent was about simplifying and eliminating something to make more room for God. That made a lot of sense to me. This morning, as I thought about the emotional clutter and the distance between people caused by our judgements, it became so clear to me. This judgement of others, especially other moms, adds so much garbage to our lives and to our relationships. If I can learn to get rid of that, both from the standpoint of thinking with judgement of others and the scars it leaves on me emotionally when I feel judged, there will be so much more space for God and for love. That is what I want my Lent to be this year - the chance to make more room for Love.
I know this will be a hard one for me - I make judgements all the time and it’s such an ingrained habit that it will take up a lot of emotional time and discipline. I think, though, if I can be more aware of it and more careful about not doing it to others, I will have so much more emotional energy and space to love the wonderful people around me .