“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
-Matthew 7:1-2 NIV
How many times have you corrected your children for labeling something? I know I do it almost daily. From my teenager to my twin toddlers – at some point everyday I reference labeling in some way.
“Don’t push the broccoli away just because it’s green” – me, to my twin girls, haha!
“You don’t have to have name brand everything – the label doesn’t make it any more or less effective” – me to my teenager who thinks she needs another pair of Patagonia shorts, eeeeeeeek!! Momma doesn’t wear $40 shorts!
Labels are a part of our everyday lives. We brand things with a label. We use labels to describe the contents of a product. We use labels to organize materials and thoughts. We use labels all day everyday. Everything has a label, but there is so much more to things than just what is written on the label. Some products are much better than the label describes, some are much worse! And labels certainly do not always tell the truth! When is the last time you read the label on your peanut butter jar??? I’m a macro counter, and I can tell you that your PB jar says 2 Tbsp of PB is 33 grams…. but try weighing that out yourself. Would you believe the label is actually incorrect?
Okay, okay… I know you are wondering where we are going with this??? How do labels and some scripture on judgement apply to my ex-husband and his Momma??
Don’t let the label define the relationship!
Labels are only surface level information. There’s always something deeper that isn’t captured by a label. We tend to be so quick to judge the actions or intent of our exes or their families. We are defensive, we are sensitive to their words, we often believe they have ill-intent. And sometimes they may. But God doesn’t want us to live like that. We take statements that are made by our exes and we analyze them, we give Satan time to twist and turn those words until we are just straight offended by a statement that would have been completely harmless had it been made by anyone other than our ex!
Let me give you an example…. Just a couple of years ago, myself, my husband, my ex-husband, and his girlfriend were all at the ballpark to watch my teenager play softball. We had been there allllllllllll day long! It was hot and raining on and off. At some point during that day, my exes girlfriend got her shoes and socks soaked. I didn’t realize this, but I can’t say that it would have mattered if I did. My teenage daughter had her Chaco’s in my ballpark wagon and my ex husband had grabbed them and given them to her to throw on. My initial reaction was sooooooooo out of line. I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t crazy rude. I rolled my eyes as though I was completely annoyed – where she could see me and walked off with the meanest thoughts in my head…. seriously, mean thoughts.
“who does she think she is?”
“ummmm, I bought those!”
“have your own daughter, then you can wear her shoes…”
“I might need to wear those!”
“She’s just trying get under my skin.”
“She knows EXACTLY what she’s doing”
“How dare she!”
Y’all….. I could probably keep going. I’m not a mean-hearted person and generally not a jealous person. But, oh my! Satan was having a hay day in my thoughts and I wasn’t taking control of them! I was completely flustered! Face red, mean thoughts, on-the-verge of tears, ready to leave and miss the next game, FLUSTERED. I had my twins in the stroller and proceeded to head towards the parking lot to fight back my frustrations. Along the way, I started to pray. Not pray a pretty, sweet, genuine prayer that I wish I could share… but pray most reluctantly about a pair of shoes my ex-husbands girlfriend was wearing…. pray because I knew God would get it, surely He would see how rude that was of her!
True to His word, God answered my prayer. I didn’t like what He answered at first, but He answered none-the-less!
As I’m praying God puts this on my heart…
“Would you feel the same way if it were any other female at that park?”
STOP IT, JESUS!!
I reply in my head, “yes, I would feel this way no matter who the girlfriend was”. My next thought is this…
Not the girlfriend – ANYONE else… If a lady walked up to you and said, “I’m here to watch a game, I live almost an hour away and I have no shoes to wear… do you have any I could borrow for just an hour and a half? I will return them to you in the same condition I got them in”. Would you really not give her the extra pair of shoes you had??
SERIOUSLY GOD, DO I HAVE TO EAT CROW RIGHT NOW???
The answer is yes, yes I do have to eat crow! You know why? Because I labeled her as my ex-husbands girlfriend. I let the enemy create all kinds of “what if’s” and “you should’s” in my head. This had nothing to do with the shoes. This was only frustrating to me because of the “label” of who she was. It wasn’t even based off of her – little did I know then, they would go on to get married and I would soon absolutely love the role she has in my daughter’s life. She’s a wonderful person and my other two girls LOVE her to pieces too! I was only upset because of the label. To answer that thought God gave me – had anyone else in the entire world asked to borrow those shoes, I would have given them the shoes and probably a raincoat too!
Up until this point, I had never really even gotten to know her. We were friendly and talked at the ballpark but I had let the label “ex-husbands girlfriend” define her and her intentions. I let the label define the relationship. I judged her in a way I wouldn’t want to be judged. I would never want someone to assume such thoughts about me…
I did indeed walk back and apologize to her. By the time I got back, she had put the CHACOS back (which felt like it mega-sized my order of crow…lol) and was in her wet socks and shoes again. You see, she didn’t have bad intentions at all. It never crossed her mind that it my upset me. She truly just had wet feet and wanted dry shoes!
So many times, I have gotten upset about something simply because of the label of who it was associated with. But a label doesn’t include emotions, intentions, and motives. The label gives Satan a playground to help you assume the emotions, intentions, and motives. We must take captive our thoughts!