“I want a cookie!”
The angry toddler could be heard from clear across the store. Over and over, he screamed and wailed at his mother who had refused his demands to purchase a bag of cookies. She promised him they had the exact same ones waiting at home for his snack, but he didn’t want those cookies. He wanted the package he’d seen on display.
It was a sad unfolding of defiant, bratty behavior displayed in a public setting while the mother did her best to calm the child and finish her shopping.
Due to the ruckus, many people tried to step in and give their two cents about the situation.
A store employee said the reason for the crying was due to static electricity building up in the cart and shocking him- even though the boy repeatedly screamed for cookies.
A complete stranger actually offered to buy the cookies for him.
And, much to the frazzled mother’s embarrassment, a fellow church member happened to be at the store too and offered to babysit the next time the mother went shopping. Which was nice, but the timing was poor.
By the time she paid for groceries and started walking to the car, this young mother was mortified. In her mind, those “helpful” people had insinuated she was unable to know why her child was crying, that she was mean to withhold a treat and that she should have known better than to take her child to the store.
Now, this little boy who had been crying, kicking and spitting was old enough to know his chances for cookies was over. So, as he and his mom walked to the car, he immediately switched from raging tantrum to puppy-dog-eyed- apology.
The blonde haired, three year old turned to me and said, “Mommy, I sorry. I really sorry.”
Yes, that’s right folks. It was my sweet, angel child who embarrassed me that day.
Why was I so embarrassed?
Because people were choosing to only see the screaming toddler. Had they focused on me, they would have seen a brave mother boldly telling her son the word every child needs to hear from time to time: “No.”
People were quick to tell me I didn’t know why my child was screaming. They were all too happy to placate my son and reward his tantrum with the very cookies that had caused his horrendous outburst. And, worst of all, was the offer to babysit to simply avoid a circumstance where a similar episode might happen again.
Not one person held up their hand in a high-five to encourage me as I worked hard to instill good character traits like patience and self-control in my son.
No one said, “good job,” when I reprimanded him for spitting at me.
No one applauded the fact that I remained a parent in the situation instead of a pleaser.
Instead of being encouraged for being a mother who was teaching her son important life skills, I felt judged. And, I felt like a failure.
As I reflect back on that event, I realize there are many, many times when we know the right thing to do, but it’s contrary to popular opinion.
We may be judged.
We may be mocked.
We may be told we are not good enough, smart enough, or cool enough.
But in those moments, we need to stand strong and bold for what we believe in. In the Bible, there are many truths the people around us are choosing to ignore. It would be easy to just follow the crowd, but unfortunately that will cost later on.
Our children, our spouses, our loved ones and the hurting world around us need brave people to choose what’s right over what’s popular.
They need someone who looks for what’s best in the long-run instead of what feels better in the moment.
If you’re in a place where you need a high-five and words of encouragement, I sincerely pray these words do just that for you:
Don’t give up, you’re doing awesome!
You’ve got this, because you’re a rockstar who cares enough to do the hard stuff.
You can do what God has told you to do because He gives you the strength you need.
Hold your head high and keep your eye on the prize.
Those around you may not thank you until later…but I’m thanking you now.
“So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.” Galatians 6:9 (MSG)
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