Once, I swung open the front door of my mini-van, jumped inside, heard a growl, peeked over my shoulder and found myself face to face with two black dogs.
Seriously, who the heck put their stinkin’ dogs in my mini-van?!
Um. Yeah. Not my mini-van.
It’s a bit terrifying how long it took to realize my mistake.
No one in the van was happy…and somebody definitely peed a little.
Here’s the deal: Don’t climb into someone else’s mini-van uninvited. It doesn’t matter how much it looks like yours. Same goes for our lives. Someone may appear to have a similar life, outlook, circumstance, parenting triumph or woe – but until you’ve entered in, you’ve no clue what’s really going on inside.
Never assume. It’s a waste of time. And don’t barge in. It’s too risky.
Wait to be invited.
This can be so tricky. Especially if the door of their life appears wide open. Dusty goldfish are pouring out, the leaking juice box under the backpack has puddled next to a runaway credit card. You just want to offering a suggestion…right?! Stop. There could be some snarling teeth in there. Someone’s going to get hurt.
I can’t tell you how many friendships in my life have been strained because we’ve felt judged by one another. It makes all of us shut down and pull away. Ask yourself two questions:
- Have I established mutual trust with this person?
If you haven’t known this person long, and you get all up in their business, it can feel like judgement. It may not be your heart! But remember, they don’t trust you yet. It’s not fair to expect them to know your intentions. Be wise and hold your tongue. But love them like crazy. Be a constant in their life.
- Has this person indicated they want your opinion?
I have friends who I know don’t want my opinion- even though they love and trust me. Bummer is, I’m still prone to give it. We’ve got to know our audience y’all. It’s hard for this Italian/Irish girl to shut it down! I’m learning at the speed of molasses – I need to discipline myself in this area.
Does your friend let her kids watch rated R movies at the age of nine…guess what?!
That’s not your mini-van!
Or maybe a friend doesn’t believe in vaccinations, or home-school, or private school, or public school, or any school!!
Yeah. That’s not your mini-van either. Get out girl!
It’s hard to be a mom these days. Everyone and every book out there hisses, “You’re doing it wrong” or, “You can do it better.” Our generation has trouble trusting God can equip us properly.
We turn to the next, “How to…” book, before we turn to God’s book.
We ask Siri before we ask the Spirit.
I believe the enemy’s in this; undermining our God-given instincts to parent our children well. He uses social media, articles and most aggressively- he baits us to tear each other down. We don’t need to be another blasting horn of judgement towards our sisters! God’s heart is for us to, “Encourage one another and build each other up.”(1 Thessalonians 5:11)
Don’t know how to do this? I think it starts with less worrying about getting into someone else’s life, and inviting them authentically into your own. Living out grace is a powerful witness and gift; loving people regardless of their parenting choices. If a friend does ask your opinion, it’s a safe place to practice honesty. Any fiery pups in her mini-van should know you well enough not to snap.