“Sweetie, are you all by yourself?”
“Where’s your mom?” I asked.
“Mom,” he replied.
“Yes, where’s your mom?” I asked again.
“Mom,” he replied as he pointed to a stray dog over by a fence.
I looked up and to the right. I saw that the nearest house was about 75 feet way, the back of the house facing us with a fenced-in backyard. It was one of many houses all connected, all with the same fenced-in backyards. Just then, to my left, I saw a moving truck pulling out of the nearest cross-road. Another quick glance around confirmed there was not another soul in sight.
Then a car started to pass us. They slowed, rolled the window down, and looked at us.
“I found him here… near the road. I think he’s too little to be out here on his own,” I said.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the woman in the passenger seat replied. “Who would do something like that? Unbelievable!” Then they drove off.
This could have been Elijah, I thought to myself.
I took the little boy’s hand. It was so small. He couldn’t have been older than 3 years. We started walking toward the fence line he had pointed to earlier.
“Hello? Hello?” I yelled.
We walked some more, hand in hand.
“Hello? Hello? Is anybody there?”
Just then, about 5 houses down the fence line, I saw a man coming out of the back fence gate. He started toward us at a slow jog.
“Is this your son?” I asked, as he approached.
“Yeah,” he replied.
“I found him near the road,” I said.
“Crazy,” the man replied.
Then he reached down and picked the boy up.
“Hi Daddy!” said the boy, as the man turned and walked back in the direction they came from.
I stood and watched as they walked away.
It could’ve been Elijah.
I've replayed that event over and over in my head for about a month now. The most profound thing was not that the little boy was by himself near the road. It wasn't that the dad didn't say more than two words to me when he found us. It was that woman’s comment – “Who would do something like that?”
All I can think is… I could easily “do something like that.” Elijah learned how to open the front door on his own about 6 weeks ago. I was putting dishes away and I heard the front door open and screen slam. I went to look, and there he was standing next to the shoe rack on the front patio.
It could’ve been Elijah.
Why are we so quick to judge?
Who are we to judge?
When did we become so perfect in our actions as mothers… so free of mistakes… so holy... that we felt the need to judge every mis-step, every mistake, every sin of our fellow brothers and sisters? I hear it every day from others (and even from myself sometimes)-
“I can’t believe she allows her child to wear those clothes”…
“Why doesn't she discipline her children for behaving that way”…
“What kind of parent raises a child like that?”…
“How could she let her kid do that?”…
“What kind of mom let’s something like that happen?”…
Too often I am finding myself and my sisters in Christ asking questions just like these and not following it up with a look in the mirror. We are not perfect. We make mistakes. Even mistakes with our kids- life-altering, tragic mistakes. We need to remember - there is only one judge, and we are not that judge. He does not need us to be that judge. If we put as much energy into asking questions like “How can I help”, we would be a far better follower of Christ, a far better sister, a far better person.
That boy could have easily been my Elijah, just shy of 3 years old, who got out the front door while I was trying to get some dishes done. It wouldn't define WHO I am. Yes it would have been something I allowed to happen. Yes it could have turned into something tragic. But, the mistakes I make do not define who I am.
The mistakes you make do not define who you are.
Maybe, like me, you are that mama that allowed something terrible to happen to one of your children – because you were careless, or overworked, or tired, or overwhelmed. Maybe you are accepting responsibility for something that happened to one of them, but you had absolutely no control over. Maybe you’re that mom that sits, judged by others, for a mistake that you made or something you feel like you failed to do – seemingly never able to make up for that terrible thing that happened. If that is you, please know that there is only one judge and He died on the Cross to wipe away all of the mistakes that you and I made, and have yet to make. You don’t have to make up for your mistakes anymore.
I challenge you – if you are the one that passes judgment all too often, dig deep and try to change your heart. Every time you hear your thoughts or words being judgmental, try to follow it up with an act of kindness directed toward the one you judge. Be who Christ intended you to be – a woman or man of forgiveness, helping those in need.
If you are the one that feels judged, please pray to the Lord asking Him for His forgiveness of your mistake. He has already forgiven you, but sometimes the act of asking for forgiveness helps us with the next step, which is letting it go. Let it go, sister. What’s done is done, and you cannot go back and change it. He has forgiven you. Your mistakes do not define you. You do not need to concern yourself anymore with the judgment of other sinners- other women and men- who also make mistakes.
But early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd
soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.
“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The Law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”
They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.
When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”
“No, Lord,” she said.
And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”
John 9: 2-11 (NLT)