By Catherine Parks
I recently attended a baby shower at which several women sat around and told labor stories. As we sat and talked, I realized how special it was to be with women who had experienced all manner of births—natural, medicated, C-section, induction, and even a new mom hoping to have a home birth—and to not see any judgment cast from one to another. Because we are sisters in Christ, we could share our stories, laugh, gasp and ultimately rejoice, knowing God’s grace in giving us these children we love so dearly.
This is not always the case, however. Much of the time we women give our opinions forcefully and judgmentally, causing one another to feel guilty about the choices we’ve made. As a first-time mom, I made many of my decisions based on the opinions of others. This didn’t end with birth, either. Once my daughter was born, I was inundated with advice regarding everything from diapers to feeding to crying it out or attachment parenting.
The sad thing is, as things started working for me in one area, I became an advising mom as well. There’s nothing wrong with well-meaning advice. But advice can so quickly turn to our personal “law” when we subject others to our opinions and judge them by whether or not they take our advice. I was certainly guilty of this with other young moms. It was their choice to follow my plan or not, but I fully expected things to fail if they chose another route.
We live in an age and a society where we have so many choices. This can be both freeing and paralyzing. Pregnant women can easily become overwhelmed by all the research, advice and “wisdom” they’re hearing. Throw on top of that the well-meaning women who give their stories and opinions, and what should be a beautiful experience suddenly becomes incredibly stressful. And even when we decide exactly what we want, rarely do things go according to our plans.
For instance, my body does not seem to go into labor on its own, and my first pregnancy resulted in dangerous, late-onset pre-eclampsia. Our bodies also don’t always know how to keep babies healthy and implanted in the right way. Miscarriages are a heartbreaking symptom of the Fall. So sometimes we unintentionally hurt each other when we insist all bodies should be able to carry a baby and deliver it naturally. The idea implied by this is that you’re doing something wrong if it doesn’t work the way it should.
So let’s just take a step back and see what trusting in Christ can power us to do to encourage and aid our sisters as they make decisions for their baby’s birth and early years:
After my first child was born, I was a “Google mom.” Any tiny ailment and I was immediately searching for advice on how to fix it. Then one day my friend Mandi had a baby, and she asked friends to pray that she would seek God’s wisdom with raising her son, rather than immediately looking for man’s wisdom. Sadly, the thought had never occurred to me before. I could pray for God’s wisdom, and He would give it!
This is the best gift we can give our sisters in Christ—the knowledge that we are praying they would have the wisdom that comes from God as they birth and raise their children. Maybe one day they’ll come to us for wisdom. On that day, may we be God’s instrument to give others the wisdom that comes from above.
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” James 3:17
During nap times and between loads of laundry at her home in Nashville, TN, Catherine Parks is a writer. At other times of the day you can find her either pretending to be a cheetah wrangler with her two small kiddos, or trying to convince her husband, Erik, to become a coffee drinker. Catherine has a BA in English literature from Bryan College and is finally putting the degree to work in a book on Christ-centered weddings. Follow her on Twitter at @CathParks.
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