What could I have possibly done to deserve such ire from a total stranger? Was I swooping in, rescuing my little angel from any hint of danger? Had I invited someone in to my perfectly decorated home, complete with happy calm children making crafts (but not making a mess) at the table? Perhaps I had prayed something so eloquent over my child that the fisher price baby Jesus in our plastic manger started to cry tears of joy…
No. I had made a birthday cake.
Months ago, I made a cake for a friend for her son’s birthday party. I like making cakes, it’s an easy way for me to be creative and hello, cake? I started doing it when Josiah was born as a way to do something different from changing diapers and drying tears. Over the years, I have found that I really enjoy doing it, and REALLY enjoy blessing others with it. So I showed up with the cake and was setting it up when a woman wandered over and asked where it had been ordered from. When my friend pointed at me, she laughed and said-
“Oh my gosh, you are one of THOSE moms, aren’t you?!”
Now, I am absolutely sure she meant nothing by it. I get it- baking and cooking can be intimidating for some people, just like lots of other things are intimidating to me. It didn’t hurt or offend me…but it did make me think.
I’ve been so guilty of this- castigating other people for their interests and skills. I don’t want to be that person. I want to be the person that celebrates other people, that sees that God has made no mistakes and He has lovingly and carefully crafted each person in His image, and that includes talents and interests.
So today, I read a blog post by one of my favorite writers…
Meh. I still like Jon a lot. He writes satire, and it’s difficult to offend me.
Here’s the deal- I like doing Elf on the Shelf. Like cake decorating, it’s a fun and easy way for me to be creative. I don’t post pictures of our elf to brag or get attention or shame other parents, I do it because I think it’s funny and because I know people like to share ideas of what to do with the elf. If the thought of participating in Elf on the Shelf causes you stress, good grief, don’t do it! Christmas is busy enough without adding things you don’t really want to do. It’s not like your elf is sitting there thinking about how all his friends get to do all these fun and mischievous activities and then cries tiny peppermint tears. In participating in recovery ministry, I have not once heard a person give a testimony and attribute their addictions or habits to their parents NOT making a stuffed doll make a snow angel out of powdered sugar. Not once.
But I see this as a larger pattern. It’s almost like we’ve all felt the pressure of being the perfect parent, making all the right choices and being all things for all people, and so we’ve made an effort to combat that with encouragement that you don’t have to be the perfect parent…and that is a GOOD thing…but we also swing over to the side of scoffing at and criticizing parents who like making animals out of napkins for their kids or the parent who finds joy in baking heart-shaped bread for her child’s class. We roll our eyes and shame the “Pinterest mom”, spitting out that name like it tastes as bad as some of the recipes on there, and forget that He made her.
If you know me at all, you know that I know nothing about sports. And I seriously don’t care. But I have kids and they play sports and I am there, watching all the sports and the sporty type things. There’s yelling and cheering and numbers and the occasional scraped knee, and to be honest, I don’t know what’s going on 99% of the time. I know my kids are stinking cute in their costumes, but that’s about it. But this season, I was sitting behind two moms, serious sport moms, and they were discussing strategy within the game. I found myself wanting to roll my eyes because they are five. Their strategy is don’t pee on the field. But I realized later- I wasn’t irritated with them…I was upset that I didn’t understand what they were talking about. They weren’t doing anything wrong or unreasonable or frivolous. I was being prideful and rude. Ouch.
See, when I’m secure in my identity, when I am convinced of the truth that I am fearfully and wonderfully made, when I am intimate with Christ in a way that I can truly love others, I don’t have to feel guilt or shame or scorn for those who are different from me. I can laugh at myself for making a tiny Duck Dynasty costume for our elf without feeling the need to roll my eyes at those who choose not to participate- because it’s not threatening to me. Dear friend, can I be a gentle sword? When you silently (or not so silently) shake your head and roll your eyes at *that* mom, you are rolling your eyes at something that is precious to Him. You are rolling your eyes at some quality that is a reflection of Him.
So let’s agree- you won’t care if I call a soccer uniform a costume, and I won’t care if you think the Elf is probably related to Chucky.