Every weekend my husband watches the kids, and I escape for a few hours to the Starbucks on the corner. This is the only kid-free time I get during the entire week. Each week I see some of the same people. Two older couples from my church make sure they always stop by to visit with me, and the baristas know my regular. I go to grab a latte, meal plan for the week, listen to podcasts, and read. Then I head to Wal-Mart to grocery shop BY MYSELF!

When I arrived yesterday for my reprieve from my children, the only seat open was the table right next to the bathroom. After being there for about an hour, a woman walked into the store with an upset two-year-old. She desperately headed to the bathroom. The child was SCREAMING!

Oh man, I have been there more times than I would like to remember.

She came out of the bathroom and shut the door. She had tears in her eyes because she could see the looks on everyone’s face. She looked at me and started to explain that he needed to calm down for a minute. She went on to explain how everyone in her life judges her and tells her she doesn’t parent properly. I sympathized with her telling her that I had two children and that I understood. I empowered her by saying, “You are the mom. You are doing what you know best for your child.”

After several minutes of rude comments from several customers, a barista went in to make sure the child was alright and to take him a cakeball. Finally, the child did calm down.

Despite this being my alone time without kids, I was compelled to invited the mom to sit down with me. She opened up about her life. Telling me things about their background that explained everything. As I listened, my heart went out to her.

It saddens me that all to often we place expectations on people and judge them harshly when they fail to meet those expectations. We are all guilty of this in one way or another.

I would parent differently…

I would manage my money differently…

I would maintain my home differently…

I would manage my social media differently…

I would educate my child differently…

I would maintain my health differently…

That mom didn’t need judgment. She needed grace. She needed someone to listen to her.

As Christians we are sometimes the worst about this. We forget that we are to be kingdom minded…to be led by the Holy Spirit…to minister to others who are hurting.

I am a broken mess just like everyone else. On those days when I can’t hold it together, I am thankful for those who love me anyhow and show me grace instead of judgment.

Make no mistake.  This is not about me. I hope I was able to do that for this woman for my Father’s glory. I am thankful that in that moment I was able to be lead by the Spirit instead of my flesh. I was reminded of Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7 not to judge, “… and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matt 7:2b)

It is because of Him that I could put down the measuring stick of expectations and love beyond measure. I was only able to do that because He has done the same with me. What a gracious God we serve!
measuring stick
Link Up: http://www.time-warp-wife.blogspot.com/

I’m linking up with my friend Kaitlyn Bouchillon today for all things encouraging this Monday.
Check out her beautiful new site…you will be glad you did!




16 comments on “Judgement vs. Grace at the Coffee Shop

  1. Nancy Boyer

    Aww Jen .. I am new to your pennings but I see such a beautiful and compassionate soul. I’m so thankful for the Blue Birds of Happiness at Terra Studios for bringing you into my life from their website. Bless you for your understanding and for your willingness to listen when a pained soul needed to be heard. Bless you for your heart and caring and for sharing. I deal with so many women in pain during their challenges in recovery from substance use disorders as they struggle to rise to every challenge to reclaim ownership of their lives, develop necessary life skills, reunite their families and find employment. Just a hug or just a few minutes of listening helps so much in so many instances. We may never know just how much someone is struggling. And, a little grace does go a long, long way.

      1. Nancy Boyer

        Wow, I didn’t know they existed. I have been gone from home for too long. What a wonderful organization and purpose and how similar the names! This link of humanity and caring of like-minds and spirits is pretty incredible and knows no limits of time or distance does it! Thank you for sharing their information .. we are always growing and learning from others and sharing back and forth so it’s exciting to have this additional source and kinship. I grew up in Fayetteville, graduated from FHS in 1964 and except for a couple of years from 1992 until 1994, I have lived away from my home base. But thankfully, all of the wonderful opportunities afforded to me growing up have remained in my heart.

  2. Abby

    This is just lovely, Jen. What a kind soul you are for inviting that mom to sit down with you. I know she needed it. Yes, I truly believe that if we would stop judging and truly love one another the way we’re called to, the church would be a powerful force to be reckoned with. And I, too, treasure those times to myself! Thanks for sharing. -Abby (visiting from FMF snail mail)

  3. Jen Daugherty

    Jen, it’s amazing that you chose to use this precious “alone” time to encourage a momma who very clearly needed some encouragement. I think that if we all started doing this a little more, we’d see a gentle change. We’d see people begin to open up more, rather than closing off for fear of judgement. Thank you for sharing this-it’s a HUGE encouragement to me today!

    Also, your hubby is pretty amazing to let you escape a bit! 😉 What a blessing!!

  4. Meredith Bernard

    This is a beautiful story of grace, Jen. First of all, I’m officially jealous of your Saturdays. (Grace me for the jealousy, please.) Second, the fact that you stopped and gave that mama grace and an ear is the most beautiful thing I’ve heard in a long time. I hope I would be in a place to do the same and find myself reflecting on opportunities missed. You were Jesus for that woman when she needed Him most. So glad to have found each other. I leave inspired and encouraged…and that’s the best way to leave someone’s place, right? 😉

  5. Rebekah

    This is beautiful thing – something I hope I can emulate for a mom in need some time. You can’t imagine what grace you heaped on her head by doing this – by giving her a moment of respite from the glares and allowing her to sink into the arms of someone who understands and smiles through it anyway (in spite of it?). How wonderful for her to feel the Father’s love through your actions today. I don’t have a screamer anymore, but the huffs and eye-rolling can bring me to the edge just as much. I am encouraged here.

    1. Jennifer Mullen Post author

      Oh…I had a screamer. I could totally relate to this mom! How could I not show her grace?!? It is because of Him!

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