Today I received a mini-lecture from a random stranger in well-worn jeans and a baseball cap.
As I left the library with my three-year-old,my son danced over to the button for the automatic door and pressed it with a little bounce in his step and wiggle of his head.
He loves pressing these buttons.
When he was old enough to reach out of the stroller, he insisted on being the one to control the doors.
When he was two-years-old and leaving the library was always a fight, these buttons were a blessing. He wanted to skip going home for lunch and naptime and just stay and play forever. The massive terrible two’s tantrum hovered over us like a threatening storm cloud every single time we went to the library in those days.
So, I started giving him something to look forward to. I’d say, “It’s time to go. Would you like to be the one to press the button?”
Sometimes it failed. He still had to be carried on out of there in a full-blown fit.
But on a lot of days, it worked. He’d head out of the children’s section on a mission to be the one to open the doors on our way out.
Today was a good day at the library. We saw a friend. My son played without fighting and even did some sharing, which is a new and still-developing skill.
When it was time to go, we grabbed our stuff and headed for the front without cajoling, threatening, or screaming.
So, when he pressed the button and did a little dance as the doors opened, I smiled.
Yes, this was a successful library day. Thank goodness!
Then the stranger complained.
At first, I couldn’t tell he was picking at my son. He said, “One day, those buttons might break.”
This was unexpected. Mostly when people see my son so excited about pressing the buttons, they laugh or smile and it makes all of our days a little brighter.
Then this stranger said the mean words: “Those buttons are for the handicapped. Not for him.”
That’s when I realized he was complaining that my three-year-old likes to push these buttons—like probably every other three-year-old on the planet.
My son didn’t bang the button, hit the button, slam the button or in any way misuse the button. He just pressed it.
He didn’t take up a handicap parking space without a handicap sticker or use a handicap bathroom when it wasn’t necessary and prevent others from using it as a result.
And I don’t ever use those automatic buttons myself since I can open the doors without difficulty.
But my son used this button to open a door that he can’t open any other way because it’s far too big and heavy for him.
And in the very moment he had joy, we were criticized.
Sometimes this is exactly how it goes.
Just when you are having a good day, someone tries to bring you down.
Your child doesn’t have a tantrum, he uses the potty, and he doesn’t fight with the other kids, and you think, “Hurray! Maybe I’m not failing completely as a mom.” That’s when someone tells you how badly you’re doing.
Yesterday, I read something by Charles Spurgeon that pinged again in my soul while standing a little tongue-tied in the library lobby:
“God’s people need lifting up. We are heavy by nature. We have no wings…” (Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, April 15).
I don’t really need a stranger to tell me I don’t measure up, made a bad choice, or in any way am failing at motherhood.
I am heavy by nature.
Most of us as moms, as women, and as human beings are pretty adept at self-criticizing.
All day long, we’re generally just trying to do the best we can while others pile on their own opinions about how we’re falling short.
We need lifting up, above the tough circumstances, above the sin that weighs us down, above the criticism that tramples all over our joy.
And Jesus does this for us.
He is the lifter of our heads (Psalm 3:3).
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul” (Psalm 25:1).
And Psalm 146 tells us:
The Lord raises up those who are bowed down (Psalm 146:8 ESV).
In Psalm 28, it says God lifts us into His arms just as a shepherd cradles his sheep:
Oh, save your people and bless your heritage! Be their shepherd and carry them forever (Psalm 28:9 ESV).
I don’t know what might weigh you down at the moment or what might be dragging your soul into a pit of discouragement.
Whatever it is, we can lift it up to Jesus.
Lift your soul right up to Him.
He will carry you.