Several times in the last six or so years I've really gotten slammed by other Christian women with regard to my new (to me) roles as wife and mother.
I remember very distinctly an excited conversation I was having with a "more experienced" sister-woman-friend about shopping for engagement rings with Richard. Another "more experienced" woman piped up, "Shopping for rings? Yeah, that's when life really begins."
Now, she's not wrong, shopping for rings isn't exactly life and death, but it was a big deal to me--it marked a major change in the path of my life. Could she not identify with this? I believe she supports the institution of marriage and was once a young bride herself. So, would it have killed her to congratulate me? Wish me luck in my future marriage? Offer to support me in some non-offensive way?
I've endured a LOT more criticism now that I'm a mommy. I'm sure you know what it's like (if you're a mother)...snide, passive-aggressive comments about my and Richard's choices with Shirley Jean, you've all been there. "If you think you're blank now..." (I'm breaking out in hives just typing it.)
One memory that comes to mind was when SJ was just about six months old. I was joking with a "more experienced" sister-woman-friend about how wonderful it would be to sleep all the way through the night in a bed all to myself (a pipe dream that makes me salivate even now). A mother of four or five or seventeen whom I had never before met chimed in, "How many children do you have?" "Just one," I said. "Oh, poor you!" she rolled her eyes.
This is a relatively mild example...I've heard and read some downright nasty things about myself since Shirley was born, but the point is, REALLY???
Aren't we supposed to be building each other up? No, wait. Scratch that. Aren't YOU, "more experienced" sister-woman-friends supposed to be building ME up? Helping me to become a better wife and mother? Dare I say it: A Titus 2 Woman? Offering wisdom in a kind, non-humiliating way? The scrutiny and criticism I've endured, mostly from Christians, truly, is the reason I hardly blog any more. I know I'm not alone on this, and I'm probably (Edit: Probably?? I'm sure of it.) guilty of hurting someone's feelings inadvertently by trying to make a joke, etc., but I really do make a conscious effort to NOT put somebody to shame.
Speaking of shame, the truth is, I've enjoyed more praise and encouragement from my non-Christian friends than most of my "more experienced" sister-woman-friends. This isn't right.
I guess what I'm learning is that in ten or so years when I'm done bearing my four or five or seventeen children, I really don't want to be the kind of "more experienced" woman who is too proud to NOT say to a young wife and mother, "I hear you. I've been there. I'm praying for you. You're doing a GREAT job! How can I help?"