We spent the weekend pretty lonely. It's not lonely when it's just the three of us and we've designed it that way. That's called great private family time. It's lonely when big plans are in place with friends, family and church and then a little mutating strain of invisible danger puts the brakes on social activity. And even lonelier when I explain why we won't gather and I'm on the receiving end of some harsh criticism and judgement. Surprised? Don't be.
One thing I learned early on in this journey of parenthood is that the moment I had a child everyone within range of me has an opinion on what I'm doing, how I'm doing it and a way to do it better, smarter, healthier, greener, holier, faster...blah,blah,blah.
I found it funny at first. Yup, I was laughing when a friend suggested that I should avoid all ultrasounds entirely in my very high risk pregnancy. She was worried about radiation. I was thrilled to have access to the technology considering I'd miscarried twice, am diabetic, and was considered "of advanced maternal age."
JB survived the multitude of ultrasounds and ironically, none of them detected(nor caused) his heart defects. I was questioned about the C-section that brought JB safely into this world, the formula I was adding to breast milk, our decision to have JB circumcised, and our decision to proceed with airway surgery when his heavy breathing became an issue. I still get emotional over our almost postponing that procedure as it led to the detection of his critical heart issues. I will never in my life experience gratitude to God as profoundly as I did the day the heart surgeon, having finished JB's 4 hour procedure, came out shaking his head at his amazement that an almost 5 month old baby survived so long with an aorta almost entirely closed.
What ran through my mind was how grateful I was that I had a C-section...maybe that provided an easier way into this world for his little body. How grateful I was for the formula that so easily fed him from a bottle when nursing seemed difficult for reasons we had no idea about then. I still shudder when I think about the circumcision, although he truly didn't appear to experience any pain thanks to an overload of numbing cream I'd secretly smeared everywhere prior to the procedure. (Poor boy may still be numb.)
So why then do we get so invested in what others are doing? Why does another mother care if I skip a birthday party out of caution for my son's health? Did she sit through the long hospital stay in March brought on by the mildest of viruses? Does what I choose to do influence or threaten what she's choosing to do?
In search of these answers today, I could only examine my own self-righteousness for answers. Usually the best place to start. Why do I judge what others do with their children, their marriage, their life, their business? After pondering for quite awhile, the only answer I came up with was that it's usually when they are doing something different from me and I am not secure enough in my own way to not be influenced. Or I'm completely convinced that their way is wrong and I somehow need to judge it harshly to cement that knowledge for myself. This not only doesn't serve any purpose..it is destructively polarizing.
This gets played out so heinously when it comes to Christianity. There are so many people hating and harming other people and, God help us, doing it in the sacred name of Jesus. Folks like the one-family-hate-group-masquerading-as-a-church, Westboro Baptist Church. Protesting soldiers funerals with vile slogans is not something Jesus would ever do. I try to pray for them but more often than not, I just think equally hateful thoughts about them. God forgive me and God help me. Thankfully, there are saints like Craig Gross and the team at Fireproof Ministries that restore my hope and help me to remember that the life that honors Jesus is the life of love extended, grace shared, and judgment of all kinds best left to God. Craig and crew go to brothels, strip clubs, porn conventions and other dark places sharing the love and grace of God. Sounds like exactly what Jesus would do. I wish the church people that so frequently criticize Craig and his mission would turn their wrath toward the pure evil that is perpetuated by Westboro.
When I'm secure about my beliefs and decisions I have much less need to bang someone else over the head with what they should do. It means admitting that I don't know what's best for them. I can barely sort out what's best for me. On issues of morality, I gladly share what I know to be true. But do I always come from a place of love and respect? God, I hope so.
Mr. R and I have decided that since we work from home, we have the luxury of keeping JB contained from public contact right now. That feels right to us, no matter what the news, CDC, or anyone else says. Doesn't mean we don't take advice into consideration. We do. I sincerely hope that by our choice, no one else feels they have to do likewise. And please God, I hope they don't continue to be unhappy or judgemental about our choice. We are not afraid. We are not overly worried. I read once that worry is like a rocking chair, feels like foreward movement but it isn't going anywhere. I was worried, then I took steps within my control to protect and prevent. That and lots of extra prayer eliminated worry. It didn't eliminate loneliness, but that's just how it will be right now. Maybe God is allowing all this private family time for a greater purpose.
All my sadness this weekend over being judged, being lonely and trying to sort it all out brought to mind a great experience the other day. I walked into the courtyard of a beautiful Catholic church, intending only to light a candle for the Compassion India team. Do not think me pious, it was also a self-imposed time out for some earlier ugly behavior. With a capital U.
As I approached the Mother Teresa statue, live music from the sanctuary began blasting through the outdoor speakers. And I do mean BLASTING. I was caught off-guard and started to weep, laughing through the tears at how God was probably saying, it needs to be LOUD for this thick-headed one to catch on. I lit my candle and sang along to the words inspired by St. Francis, words I desperately needed to hear and desperately need to live out:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love
Where there is injury, pardon,
And where there is doubting, let me bring your faith.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is despairing, let me bring your hope
Where there is darkness, your light,
Where there is sadness,
Let me bring your joy.
Oh Divine Master, grant that I may seek
not so much to be consoled, as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved, as to love another
For it is in giving that we do receive
It is in pardoning that we all are pardoned,
And it is in dying, that we are all born again.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.