I Judged a Friend and Learned From It
I am trembling as I begin this one. I have been wanting to share this for quite some time – and scared at what may come once I hit publish. I don’t just stir the pot or cause controversy for fun. I share my struggles so that others may grow. I love this group call mothers. I want us stronger, wiser and closer. I believe we can begin to kick comparison further away as we wrestle with issues like our faith.
- Do you believe only the Christian moms have great kids?
- Do you believe Christian moms THINK they are the ones with the best kids?
- Do you think Christian moms judge other moms that don’t incorporate some type of faith or spiritual life in their home?
- Are Christians inclusive or exclusive to moms that do not believe in God or do not think just like us?
Let me tell you an embarrassing story.
When I started reading “mom blogs” several years ago. Someone sent me the story of Nella’s birth by Kelle Hampton. I cannot tell you how many times I read it – and how many times I cried. I had never been so hooked to a blog or a person.
I was able to see that a mother’s writing could be so pure, so raw and so endearing. I couldn’t WAIT for her book to come out.
She mentioned that she could share more about “faith” and other topics that she didn’t share much about on her blog. Honestly, I really thought she was going to come out of the closet – that she really loved Jesus.
After all, we were kind of the same exact mom – as far as I could tell from her blog. She loved her kids, madly. She did random acts of kindness. She was crazy about making memories and making her home a loving environment. She honored and loved her husband. She oozed LOVE from every blog post. She spoke of core values and virtues that she held dear. And she does handstands!!!
I was also watching her GIANT influence climb. She would just mention a shirt at Target and it would sell out. I really became excited at her book and in my head created this huge moment for Jesus. I was thinking: She’s going to tell everyone she’s a Christian – then all these crazy Kelle Hampton fans will follow her and Jesus and it’s going to be so neat.
I read her book and tears fell with disappointment.
She had a horrific experience with the church and said some things that truly made me so mad. The story didn’t play out like I had hoped. You guys – I turned judgy Christian and sent her an email. A really judgy one. Letting her know my disappointment. I was such a HUGE JERK! She didn’t respond. Good for her.
Fast forward some months and I started to feel the guilt. What was I thinking?! Shouldn’t she be allowed to be a great mom and not love Jesus? Who am I to judge her past and her current journey of faith?
So, I was headed towards her area of town for a speaking thing… and I asked her to lunch. After a few stalker-like attempts, she responded. And said yes.
I was clear on my intentions: To say SORRY and THANKS.
I was clear from the moment we got there – I was there to say sorry for an email she didn’t even remember or maybe even read. I told her I judged her. I told her she had changed my perception and I wanted to grow and be more open. More inclusive. More accepting. I thanked for how she inspired me as a mom and a writer.
We had the best talk. She was amazing. The truth is we do disagree on many things. There are so many things on her site that I read – and I want to prove her wrong and I just click off these days. It is her journey. How could I ever debate her past and her experience?
Do you know so many hurting people around us have been through severe pain caused by Christians? Why would they want to walk back into the doors of a church or trust their family when all they know is pain from that place? I want to seek to understand.
I want to plead with all of us (or those that are Christians) – that we are careful with our comments and proving our points. It’s not about watering down our faith or losing our own passion for what we believe. However, it’s so so good for our families and our own personal walks that we surround ourselves with people that believe different things than we do. It is critical that I seek more to understand before I seek to be heard. The relationship between families and friends has to be there before anything else. Being neighbors, friends and loving one another well. Let’s start there.
My closest friends will always be centered on God’s word. (see my note to Daisy below to clarify this). I do believe in raising kids around like-minded families. However, my entire bubble will not be made up of Christians. It just can’t be. And I might have to work harder at that – since our current circles only take us to those relationships.
So, if my blog has offended or made folks of other faiths or non-believing moms feels “less than” – please accept my apology. You are doing so great with your kids. It is really hard for me to separate a lot of my ideas and blog posts away from my faith – because it’s the root of everything for our family. Please know that my belief in heaven is real and I will never stop talking about that. If we were face-to-face – I wouldn’t shy away from urging you to think about it one day – when your heart is ready. The stakes are too high to ignore it forever.
I honestly believe in my heart – YOU as a mom and YOUR KIDS are of equal value to God. You are just as important as me. If my kids know scripture and yours don’t. If mine go to church and yours don’t. We are equally loved by the creator of the universe.
This video has also rocked me recently. When an openly gay mayor and a pastor basically changed a city. Don’t we agree on about 80% of things? Can’t we stop fighting for one second so that we can feed starving kids and serve those in most need? This video will change your perspective. It isn’t about settling on your views – it’s about moving forward and still making changes in the world together with deep respect for other humans.
Portland Case Study: Kevin Palau and Sam Adams from Redeemer City to City on Vimeo.
Thanks for letting me rant about something dear to my heart this morning. And for the love people – be a little sweeter to my friend Kelle. And get out there create a chalk art masterpiece in her honor today. She’s so so brave – just like you.
You can follow her precious chalk photo and other fun stuff on Instagram or her blog is here.
NOTE: I am not going to edit or take out something every time I offend, but I really ticked a few off with my title “Do you have to be a Christian to be a good mom?” I DO NOT believe this – I was merely getting the conversation going. I think quite the opposite as I explained.
“It is critical that I seek more to understand before I seek to be heard.” Amen. Amen. AMEN. Think I need this in a print hanging in my room so I can see it every day. As always, love your heart and your courage to share.
Thanks Linds. I should rename this blog “growing pains”. I’m learning – slowly but surely. He has to whop me upside the head with embarrassing moments like this sometimes for me to really feel it. Much love friend. Glad you are like uh – a decade ahead of me.
spot on. I love your honesty and wish we knew each other during those PHS days:) ~Dana
Thanks Dana! There’s a lot I wish different about those PHS days. 😉 So glad we know each other now. Keep up the great work at Grace.
I love this so much, sweet friend. I love your heart and your honesty. xoxo
While I think that your general idea of love and acceptance is phenomenal, as long as you are counting the number of Christians and non-Christians in your bubble, or ensuring those closest to you are Christian, then I don’t think you are being as open-minded as you think. I don’t mean that in a rude or unkind way, but frankly, as long as someone embodies the qualities I want for myself and my child (love, kindness, generosity, etc.) then I don’t care one bit what their religious background is or is not. I am a Christian and my life would be less whole without some of my closest friends who are Jewish, aetheist, and Mormon (not considered Christian by some). I can’t imagine a thought process that would lead me to exclude them from my inner-circle simply because we don’t follow the same spiritual path.
Daisy – that is fair. I appreciate your comment. I think you are right. Where it has been hard in the past – is when I am trying to train my kids, when they were really little. And another mom is doing it just like me – it just frankly makes it easier. They aren’t hearing confusing correction or rules when we are together so much. I really get what you are saying. And I don’t think I have a hard fast rule. I certainly wouldn’t say “only my close friends can be Christians” – I should reword. I would say I am intentional to surround my family with other family that value the same things we do. Like you said.
Thank you so, so much for this post — just what we all need to hear (probably over and over and over). I know in my heart that your bravery today will change lives.
I appreciate Annie. Definitely a risk as always to open up this way – but hoping it causes more unity than division. That’s my prayer.
You did it again, Courtney! I love this and your honesty is the best. All moms struggle with what we think is best and you nailed it. Thanks for making me think! Are you going to be at Lake Keowee for Memorial Day? We are planning to go!
I wish – not there until July. Thanks for the encouragement! I definitely don’t have it all figured out. Growing and messing up daily.
I really enjoyed your post today and spoke directly to what I was pondering just yesterday. I too read Kelle Hampton’s blog and couldn’t wait for Bloom to be released. Just reading her words over the past years and given me a new understanding and heart for people with disabilities and the families, especially children. I felt heart broken when I read her book and learned of her background (in regards to religion). I was really disappointed. Even a recent post of hers on Easter left me very uncomfortable and I just about decided to remove her from the list of blogs I read. But something was making me unsure. I’d been inspired so much by her but I felt almost angry with her on her religious views. Maybe the way I was judging her was similar to why she feels the way she does. Your right, I don’t know the life she walked through. I agree with the comment below and I think I need your words on a sign that I may read everyday, “it is critical that I seek more to understand before I seek to be heard”. Thank you for bringing a little more clarity to this issue.
Deborah. Her Easter post is the very reason I wrote this. My first reaction was not good too -and then I had to remember we don’t always know the full story. And it’s always so personal. Thanks for writing!
Deborah – Your comment could have been written by me. Courtney – Thank you for writing this post and for making yourself vulnerable to your readers.
my pleasure. worth the risk.
The idea of love and acceptance is a good one…but as someone who raises her children without churching it every week (for a bunch of reasons having to do with a focus on things that don’t matter, without dealing with things that DO. I had terrible experiences with Young Life and Campaigners as a young adult. Because I used to do ALL of it…work crew, small group, quiet time, Leadership. All of it.) …I don’t know what to think. I’m probably very similarly like minded to you in terms of HOW I want my children raised, what kind of relationship I have with them, and the people I want them to be.
BUT It basically makes it sound as if YOU have seen the light, but before that my children and I would have been outcasts. Not allowed in the bubble. How many other Christians feel that way? We have followed Light Em Up at Christmas, and we did Love Em Up at Valentine’s Day, and my children are being raised to be good moral people WITH values and WITHOUT judgment. But this makes it sound like BEFORE you came across Kelle we would have been seen as outsiders because we don’t have a church full of people to “do life with” as everyone puts it. “Who are these crazy non-Christians wanting to do Christian-like things?”
My husband has been talking about us joining a church, and the idea has frightened me. I’m more liberal on social causes, I don’t talk like they do, I have gay friends and Jewish friends and atheist friends, and on and on and on. But NOW? Now I’m scared that I’m going to go to church and I’m going to run into a bunch of Moms who HAVEN’T seen this blogpost and will be judgy towards me. And I don’t want to be someone’s church project. I know what you were going for here, and I’m glad that Kelle has opened your eyes, but now that I KNOW that I’m actually being judged (AND WORSE – MY KIDS ARE!), I don’t really know what to think. It’s all the EXACT reason I haven’t started finding a church.
I think that there are more people like me, who are afraid to break the bubble, who are afraid to go to church, afraid to be judged. We talk a lot in this country about morals and values, and MOST people identify as Christians, but they don’t go to church. So the real question is – why aren’t they going? Is it this?
oh Brittney. I seriously would call you right now if I could. email me and i will. absolutely not. if you knew me personally – you would know i am actually a pretty loving, accepting human. regardless of your belief – we would do light em up together and love it. i would never consider your children outcasts before or after this post. i am wanting to grow like anyone and be gut level honest that there are some tendencies of the christian culture – that doesn’t define ME or ALL christians. so, please don’t read too much into this. i do think this is some of the reason that keeps folks from coming to church – assumptions that aren’t true. past experiences that are true and that were hurtful. i am finding churches to be filled with loving, accepting people that want your children to feel included and you too. i hate that you felt any different coming to my blog or reading this post. the point was to nudge me closer to that and further away from anything else. much love and respect, courtney
The title of this scared me…. but it was so beautifully written, and I couldn’t agree more. It always comes back to love. You have always encouraged me to point my kids to Jesus, and I am so thankful for that. There’s no way to separate our faith from our lives when it is what they are centered in. I don’t think you’ve ever alienated anyone because of that. Parenting, blogging, ministering to and encouraging others: You’re doing it right! 🙂
yeah – it scares me too. i believe i opened a can of worms, hopefully it will do more good than harm. that was my prayer.
oh girl. i love how you lay it ALL out on the table. all of it. i applaud your desire to link arms and not squabble over what we don’t agree on. you’re the bomb court. and ps. i will email kelle and introduce myself as the ONLY FREAKING one on our call today who could NOT turn up the FREAKING volume. #dork #humbled #hahaha
ha! she’s going to love you. can’t wait for y’all to meet.
Thank you for being so honest and so real, as always! I really needed to hear this today, I have been struggling so much this week over an issue with a non-Christian friend and trying not to judge. Your words really hit home with me today.
I am so glad it met you at the right time. Hang in there!
Despite various worldviews, we humans all seem to react similarly when our own pride and insecurities are threatened. We all know exactly what you’re talking about in some form or fashion. I love your heart, I’m encouraged by your testimony, and appreciate your vulnerability.
I appreciate your constant support mrsyellowhat!
Well done for sharing your heart in a coherent way. I have never even heard of Kelle Hampton but I tend to be behind the times these days! What I always find interesting is when my kindred spirits – those who share my values, the way I discipline, the way we seek to do family life because we see it as following Jesus – are the families outside the church. The ones who volunteer, serve our community, go beyond the call of duty. From my believing perspective their hearts are full of God, they just don’t know it, but I can see this is my view not theirs. Of course we love our family friends from the church and share our lives with them too and with a spiritual connection, but my kids are age five and under so at this point a lot of our parenting choices are the same as most of our friends irrespective of belief – though I can see this may change as the kids grow up. I just think to parent without knowing the grace and power and strength of Jesus would be a challenge of an altogether different magnitude – whatever I get right probably had very little to do with me. Just some thoughts, not as coherent as yours…
Sounded coherent to me Sarah. Thanks!
I agree with your post; Christians need to show more love to others. Our supreme example is Jesus Christ, who was never harsh, but always spoke the truth in love. But . . . He spoke the truth. Now, what people did with that truth was up to them. Part of that truth is that there is not just a heaven, but there is also a hell. There is separation from God for those who choose to reject His Son, Jesus Christ, and the price He paid for our sins on Calvary. The truth of the matter is that today, if you preach or teach that in any way, shape, or form, you are considered judgmental. We live in a postmodern age where every person should be allowed to interpret the truth as they see it and how it fits their culture and their experiences. But that’s not reality. There has never been anyone more kind than Jesus; there has never been anyone more compassionate or loving than Him. But He was hated by those who heard the truth and rejected it; He was ridiculed and mocked, and He asks us the question in the gospels, “Is the servant greater than His Master?”
My point in this comment is to say, should you love this lady that you met over the internet? Of course. Love her and pray for her. But it’s not judgmental to say that she and her children and her husband all need to know Jesus; eternity is at stake. We have created a situation in American Christianity where taking a stand for ANYTHING means you are judgmental. It is a fact that Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life, and no one comes to the Father but by Him.
If you take a stand against homosexuality, you are being judgmental. I know a number of homosexuals, and I love them all. But it doesn’t make the lifestyle right. You asked the question: “Can’t we stop fighting for one second so that we can feed starving kids and serve those in most need?” What do you mean by fighting? Are we fighting to say that the lifestyle is wrong? This is not according to my Word, but according to God’s Word. However, any person lost in sin is separated from God whether it’s the sin of homosexuality or the sin of pride.
These days my mind is constantly drawn to the Christians of North Korea where they face more extreme persecution than any other group of Christians in the world. Yet there are still Christians there. Their faith is not a game. It means life or death.
Courtney, I am not trying to pull you down or pull down what you said in this post. I’m just trying to challenge your thinking a bit. There is only one way to God and only one way to heaven, and if all we ever give people is good feelings, then what have we really done to help them? Do we tell people the truth in the manner of Westboro Baptist Church? No, that is revolting to me because of how it misrepresents our kind and loving Savior. I know my thoughts are all over the place here, but this is my initial reaction to reading this post. I’m not trying to take out of context what you are trying to say. Thank you for your thoughts and for reading mine.
Kaybee. I think we agree more than you think and your comments were really well thought out and written. I think that is a big issue – that could be a separate blog issue. Also part of our culture for sure. I think I see more of the holding so much onto truth that we repel others vs attract them to Jesus. I agree wholeheartedly on standing on truth and God’s word. I would never deny those things just to make people feel good. I appreciate your challenge and feel it was respectfully done. I’ll email you offline so we can talk more.