A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. – John 16:21-22 NIV
Do we let other people take away our joy?
I know I do. I react to what they do and say, and sometimes that takes my mind off the joy I can find in Christ. When we turn our eyes upon Jesus and turn away from the actions of others, our minds reset.
Something happened at a church that I was visiting with my three-year-old son. I will not mention the name of the church, but I am mentioning this incident as an example of Christian behavior, and how we all can demonstrate the love of Jesus better.
Just as the church service was starting, I was in the cradle roll room with my son, and he was playing with the cord of a mini blind. The mini blind looked already broken, so I didn’t police him stringently.
In one of my houses, I had accordion mini blinds that did not have cords to open and close them. That style of blind is safer for children.
I told my son to stop playing with the blind, but he is a handful some sometimes, especially if I am watching him alone. I have COVID-19 Long Haulers, so sometimes I feel too tired to correct his every move. Other times I divert his attention.
In previous churches of this type that I have visited in the past, the cradle room is a room for mothers and children. It has a window into the main sanctuary, but it is separated from the main service. It is supposed to be a private place for mothers to nurse their babies (this particular church had a privacy screen for nursing mothers). The cradle roll room is normally child proofed and had toys that kids can play with if they are developmentally too young to sit quietly through a church service.
A woman from the church saw my son through the glass window in the cradle roll room, took it upon herself to cross the sanctuary, enter the room, and tell my son to stop touching the mini blind cord. She did not introduce herself, and and I felt that her behavior was so judgmental and unwelcoming that I took my son and we left.
Her behavior was completely unacceptable! I attend church for support and love, but instead I felt judged, and as if I was being observed in a fish bowl.
We all know the golden rule…”love inanimate objects as yourself,” right? No. A mini blind that is already broken is not more important than a real person. This woman clearly had her priorities straight in her mind, and felt it acceptable to correct someone else’s child. Who was this woman? And did she know that actions speak louder than words? Did she know that the message she was sending was one of prejudice, segregation, and judgment? Would it have been appropriate for her to enter the room and spank my child? Certainly not.
I was so upset about what happened that I reported it to the paster’s wife. The church leadership needed to know the way that mothers and children who are visiting are treated. The pastor’s wife told me that I did not deserve to be treated that way and it should never happen again.
In my anger regarding the incident, I wanted to lash out at the woman who made me feel unwelcome.
Jesus asks us to forgive, not retaliate, when things happen. Jesus was treated horribly by the very people who could have recognized Him as the Savior. He overcame hatred with love.
When we turn our eyes upon Jesus, we are less likely to act out of hypocrisy. Nobody is perfect, but God shows us a way to return to Him, and improve our actions to match His more and more every day. We don’t have to remain grieving. We can accept joy in Christ, regardless of our circumstances. Amen.