Learning from Julia

Julia and I are very different.  I’ve known that for a long time.

She drinks coffee: I can’t stand the stuff.
She uses antibacterial wipes: I think I have one jar of free-to-me gel in my car… maybe.
She gets up at 5:30 to work out 2-3 times a weekI have to discipline myself to go swimming once the girls are up and am lucky to do it once a week.
She showers and looks polished most days (including nail polish and make-up)I wash my hair with baking soda and am thrilled to get 3 showers a week (make up and nail polish are icing on the cake!)
Her vegetables probably grow in well maintained rows: Mine are in haphazard heaps inside a cinder block plot.
Her yard is lovely and filled with flowers: My yard is sadly on the bottom of my list of things to even think about getting to (and has a pile of brush the size of a compact car that I’m lovingly calling the “marriage breaker”).
Her kiddos don’t eat fast food: mine probably eat it once a month.
She does Hadley and Brynne’s hair most morningsMy girls only get their hair done if they ask or if we’re going out (think Cousin It).
She was raised in a home that preached the gospel: I’m still trying to figure out how to do this.
Julia gates off quite a few portions of her house including her kitchen: I’m often found in the kitchen with my girls mopping, wiping down walls, or even handing me clean dishes to put away.
The girls and Julia still love their strollerI pretty much retired my stroller when the girls were able to walk well and I could carry one in the Ergo while holding the others’ hand.

There’s no judgment in writing down these differences… we just do things differently: we “do what works” for us. We’re just different people and I knew this when I accepted Brad’s sweet idea of surprising her by flying her here for vacation.

Having Julia and Brad here for a week brought some of these differences into sharp contrast.  Seeing each other just live and raise children was very eye opening (in a good way!).  I’ve learned a lot just watching Julia and Brad that I’d like to apply to my daily living.  Here’s a small list so I don’t forget.

1. Always pack extra diapers.  An extra set of clothes is nice, too.
2. Designate a diaper bag packer.  If both of us think the other did it…. odds are neither did 😉
3. Strollers are a great option if you want to just talk and not worry about toddlers running a muck.
4. A glass of wine (or a few sips in my case) after dinner is a beautiful conversation stimulator.
5. Sleep sacks can be used for more than just warmth. 
6. Toddler tears in public are okay and can be handled with great grace.
7. Be generous with what you have.
8. Sometimes its okay to let yourself be surprised… especially when your spouse is super excited.
9. Disciplining for throwing food off the table really would work (it had never crossed my mind!).
10. Not all toddlers are as strangely physically adept as my girls, and it’s unfair to expect them to be so!

But I think the biggest thing that having Julia and Brad here taught me is about one of the biggest sins in my own heart:  partiality.  I sit back hiding behind genuine introversion because I’m judging or jealous of what others have.

James 2

The Sin of Partiality

 1My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. 2For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, 3and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” 4have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? 5Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? 6But you have dishonored the poor man. Are not the rich the ones who oppress you, and the ones who drag you into court? 7Are they not the ones who blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called?

8If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. 9But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. 11For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. 12So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. 13For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Obviously, my sin is not to faun over the rich man like those in the church James wrote to.  No, I withdraw emotionally from the person who lives a richer or very different lifestyle from my own. I sit back and scold them for spending money ‘frivolously’. Or wonder why on earth they won’t let their toddlers just play on the playground without their constant interference.  I judge them for not doing things the way they work out for me.  And I’m wrong.

Honestly, if I had met Julia in person rather than in the blogosphere, I’m not sure either of us would have given the other a second chance.  But we’ve become close and valued friends because of two very strong connections:  We love the Lord and long to serve Him…. and we’re both twin mommas. 🙂

How sad of would it be for me to have missed out on this precious friendship, because of the hardened sin in my own heart!

Lord, please reshape my heart to be more merciful to those who live differently than I do.