“Don’t worry about being right, just worry about being kind.”
– Tilly Therber, my grandmother
It’s not the difficulty of my decisions that bothers me. As a woman, I can deal with the uncertainty, the fear and the doubt that accompany my choices. I can handle the weight of that responsibility.
What I’m struggling to accept is this: When I look around me, it appears that we women have allowed the decisions we’re faced with in our lives—intimate, vulnerable and personal decisions—to become what define us and what divide us.
And it’s something we’ve all been wounded by at one time or another.
It’s not always obvious of course. It’s the scowl on another woman’s face when she hears you are taking off work for a week-long vacation. It’s the tone in another woman’s voice when she asks where your baby’s hat is “in this weather.”
Yet it’s something that every one of us is guilty of.
It’s the faces we make and the tones we take. It’s the eye rolls and the passive-aggressive comments. It’s the disapproval and judgment that oozes out of every pore of our bodies. And really, why do we care?
Why do we care if another mother chooses natural childbirth or modern medicine?
Why do we feel so compelled to turn up our noses at how she spends her money or what she wears?
Why are we so appalled when a woman works full-time just weeks after giving birth or stays home full-time when her children are in school all day?
Why is another woman’s work life and personal life and family’s life and child’s life any of our freaking business?
But most of all, why are we so consumed with the things that divide us instead of the ties that bind us?
Often, the reason we’re so quick to judge other women with decisions different from our own is that we aren’t completely comfortable with our own choices.
The woman with a full-time office job looks down on the stay-at-home mom while battling her own guilt when she can’t attend every class party and field trip. The stay-at-home mom judges the woman working long hours while at the same time struggling with her own sense of identity and purpose.
We’re all starving for grace, and at the same time, withholding that same grace from each other. And friends, it’s doing damage.
It’s damaging our relationships and it’s destroying our trust. It’s fueling the fire of perfectionism and planting seeds of self-doubt. It’s tearing down and dividing us when God calls us to build each other up and be united.
And really, at our core, all the women I’ve ever met want the same things.
We want a purpose that we can be proud of.
We want a family that is healthy and happy.
We want a body that we can feel comfortable in.
We want a life that we love.
These are the ties that bind us together as women.
How different would our relationships be if we focused on that instead? How different would our conversations be if we focused on how all of the women around us are doing exactly what we are, the very best they can? Her methods may be her way and not my way, but that’s okay, because it’s her life.
I don’t know of a single woman in the world that needs another person telling her what she should be doing.
She doesn’t need more standards to meet; she needs support.
She doesn’t need more advice; she needs affirmation.
She doesn’t need more guidance; she needs grace.
Let’s save our well-meaning advice, suggestions and opinions and instead focus on loving the woman in front of us. Let’s deliberately dissolve the judgment between us and realize that each of us is on a uniquely and perfectly messy journey of our own.
When we focus on that, we can finally put our weapons down and sit next to a woman with a life entirely different from our own and appreciate everything she is and everything she offers without feeling envious or superior.
When we stop focusing on what divides us, we can champion each other in a way that allows the women in our lives to feel supported and accepted exactly as they are and we can feel the freedom to accept ourselves and our own choices as well.
We can finally rest in the paradox of finding comfort in our own uncomfortable choices.
. . . . .
I won’t judge you for dishes in your sink and shoes over your floor and laundry on your couch. I won’t judge you for choosing not to spend your one life weeding the garden or washing the windows or working on organizing the pantry. I won’t judge you for the size of your waist, the flatness, bigness, cut or color of your hair, the hipness or the matronliness of your clothes, and I won’t judge whether you work at a stove, a screen, a store, a steering wheel, a sink or a stage. I won’t judge you for where you are on your road, won’t belittle your offering, your creativity, your battle, your work.