Type B Mama Confessions: Partiality

5 Mar

This post has nothing to do with being Type B. It has to do with being a mama and a Christian one at that.

Saturday mornings are my favorite. It is the only day not tainted by “tomorrow”! The weekdays are all full of their own issues. Sunday always has obligations and is darkened by the evil Monday. Saturday, however, is perfectly untouched by anything. I have my husband home and apart from various chores or events planned, it is a day of freedom.

This last Saturday my boys and I enjoyed this freedom. We cuddled in bed as a family, had a glorious breakfast of spinach and cheese omelets and roasted red potatoes, and decided to go for a walk. It was the first Saturday morning in awhile that was actually sunny. Freshly brewed french press coffee in hand, we embarked on our family stroll.

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Our home is half way between two different neighborhood parks. One is north and one is south. This day we decided to head to the park south of our home. We live in a very interesting neighborhood… We are one block east and 2 blocks south of where the “nice” neighborhood starts. In our town the neighborhoods are designated with cute little signs and you can instantly tell when you cross into the north side how much cleaner and nicer it is. We are right on the cusp. Our street has it’s share of nicer homes and yards but a few sketchy homes sprinkled around. Despite living on the  cusp, I love our home and neighborhood. It is a more historic area full of older homes, picket fences and tree lined streets.

Anyway, we headed through the neighborhood to the south park. This park has a big field of huge oak trees scattered around, a gazebo, tennis courts, swings, and the usual play structure with slides and monkey bars. Just looking at it, it seems like a great park! The problem I keep encountering is the people at this park.

On one occasion a big group of high school kids, who were obviously skipping school, were sitting on the benches next to the playground. The smoking and loud vulgar speech became so annoying to me, I repeatedly asked them to please watch their language next to my baby. On a different park trip, I witnessed a drug deal between two teen boys happen 3 feet from where I stood pushing Linden on the swings.

This last Saturday, there were two older men who had open suitcases with clothes and junk strewn about. They were smoking and by their slurred speech sounded drunk. They had a female friend with them. She was sitting on the top of the slides smoking as well. These men appeared to be homeless or transient. Again the language turned unsavory and I felt like my body was on fire from frustration. I ignored it and tried to allow for a fun time at the park. Linden could care less about anyone else at this stage and just ran around in pure joy.

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We chose to ignore what was going on and had a fun time. Inside though, a battle was ensuing. My feelings of frustration, entitlement and self righteous anger battled against God’s word that was on repeat in my mind:

James 2 “My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality. For if there should come into your assembly a man with gold rings, in fine apparel, and there should also come in a poor man in filthy clothes, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, “You sit here in a good place,” and say to the poor man, “You stand there,” or, “Sit here at my footstool,” have you not shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?

Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Do not the rich oppress you and drag you into the courts? Do they not blaspheme that noble name by which you are called?

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture,“You shall love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you do well;but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10 For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For He who said, “Do not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “Do not murder.”[c] Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

My spirit battled with my flesh this Saturday. I wanted so much to just have a nice time at the park. To not be reminded of suffering, sin, addiction, mental illness and whatever else is conjured up when in the presence of those “lesser” members of society. I wanted perfection. I wanted to go to the park and not have to worry about what these people might say or do in the presence of my baby boy!

Yesterday, I took the kids to play at the north park. It’s not as big of a park and only has a small play structure. It is cleaner though and the people are more “normal” and courteous. There were even some teen boys climbing on the structure and one spoke to the other and said, “hey don’t jump off the tower. I don’t want those little kids to think it’s safe to do that.” The contrast was astonishing! A mere 20 or so blocks from each other and such a difference.

We had a blast at the north park and yet again I was struck with that feeling of grief in my spirit. I have experienced homelessness in my own life. I have been exposed to mental illness, addiction, and poverty. I know God’s grace is available to everyone who wants it and as a person who has been transformed by that grace, I know I am called to share that. And what a perfect place to do so and with the ones who may need Him the most! Fear holds me back though. Wanting to have a safe park to play with my child and not wanting to be afraid of unstable people isn’t a bad thing, I know this. But it still feels like partiality to me. Why is it that 2o blocks can have such a difference in wealth, common courtesy, appearance, cleanliness and character? I know none of that has a bearing on one’s worthiness to Christ! But I struggle with how to handle myself in those situations.

My confession this week is that I sinned by judging those people. I assumed the worst and felt justified in my anger. I wanted them to leave and to stop distorting my plans and hopes of a picture perfect day. I chose not to show them love. I even chose to flee and go elsewhere just to avoid the discomfort. My heart was hard toward them and I wonder if they could see the ire and disgust on my face. I could have offered so much more to them; a nod, a smile, a kind word. I could have offered them Jesus but I chose not to.

How do you handle these types of situations?

How do you reconcile those things we are called to do with the sometimes harsh reality?

 

 

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4 Responses to “Type B Mama Confessions: Partiality”

  1. Heather Jacobo March 6, 2013 at 3:45 am #

    Thank you for sharing your inner battle with such honesty and humility. It’s super refreshing and convicting! This issue of partiality is complicated in its own right, but throw our kids nto the mix, and it gets downright scary. It’s one thing to engage with “unstable” people when we’re alone, but quite another when our precious children are with us. How do we reconcile our very natural, God-given “mama bear” instinct to shield our children from danger, sin, and worldliness with Christ’s imperative to love and engage with the lowliest among us? To do so with our children (at least as they get a little older) is to engage THEM with the lowly as well. Of course we want to set a Godly example for them, but how much exposure is too much? We also want to shelter them from sin and darkness, to protect their innocence… But we’re obligated to teach them the truth, and to show them what Christ’s love looks like in action. These are really tough issues to sort through, and I applaud you for being sensitive and courageous enough to recognize and engage them. Truly, we are all in this struggle together. Thank God for his word, and especially for the leading of the Holy Spirit when we find ourselves in these situations!

    • Amanda March 6, 2013 at 4:07 am #

      You said it much better than I could!! hahah That is the struggle exactly… I find it hard enough alone but with my child there it does bring out the mama bear. On a non faith tangent, I was saying to Steven how I wish everyone would at least respect the children and leave the play grounds alone. I understand people need places to go but I would appreciate just giving a wide birth to the play ground. If you must stay at the park… drug deal, drink whatever you are doing AT LEAST give the children some space and do it on the far end or something.

  2. Karen March 9, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    I think this is a perfect example of Matthew 10:16, “be wise as serpents and as harmless as doves”. Though the Lord urges compassion to those less fortunate, He also made us with the natural instincts to protect our kids. Once at Green Lake a homeless guy was following Pat and I, and I went in a crowded women’s restroom to hide for a minute. While in there, he Lord convicted me to reach out and offer him a coffee or something to beat from Starbucks, so I was emboldened and did so – similar situation where my firstvfeling was contrary to God’s plan!!! The key I think is to be wise and get the two of you into a safe place, and then be gentle and ask for discernment: “do I engage with these people, Lord? Do I leave? Please show me Your way”. The more we listen, he clearer we will learn to hear His voice. Thanks for being so honest, I think we all can relate!

    • Amanda March 10, 2013 at 5:45 am #

      Karen that is a great way to put it. 🙂 I know I personally struggle even more so in this area after being accosted in college by a man. I never was fearful before that experience but I am more these days. In this situation it wasn’t fear I was experiencing though. No, this time it was more anger, frustration and contempt. I see so much in my neighborhood that irks me to the bone. Some days I get so fed up! But you are correct in being discerning and listening for God’s direction in each and every instance because perhaps that day I could have been more loving and seen a great testimony from it and not just allow bitterness to take root.

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