I had a very humbling experience today.
This week is homecoming week at BYU and part of today’s festivities was a free pancake breakfast. Never one to pass up free food that I don’t have to make, I loaded up the kids and we went. While we were waiting in line for our blue pancakes I noticed a couple with a little baby in front of us. The dad had the baby in a baby carrier on his chest. It was quite a chilly morning, in the low 40’s, and the poor baby wasn’t covered up very much. No hat and a bare leg and foot sticking out the bottom of the carrier.
I’m not sure what my exact thought was when I noticed the baby but I know it wasn’t complimentary to those involved. I was very judgmental about how these parents could have their little baby out in the cold like that. Of course I was a good mom because my baby had two layers of clothes on, the outer layer a one piece sweater with a hood (that her dad affectionately calls her Thneed). I also had a blanket over her and a snowsuit in the car in case she got cold. Seeing the difference in the way the two babies were dressed sure made me feel good about myself.
I spent a few minutes with thoughts like these going through my head when all of the sudden the thought to offer them my blanket replaced them all. Of course I doubted myself. I didn’t want to make them feel bad and didn’t want them to think I was judging them. Funny, since I was. Although once the thought to share the blanket came the judgmental ones left. I really, truly wanted to help. I’m not a social person and don’t like to talk to people that I don’t know so it wasn’t easy for me but I went up to the dad and asked him if he would like to borrow my blanket. My baby was fine and theirs needed the blanket much more. The dad accepted the blanket and as he wrapped it around his baby I asked how old she was. He told me she was about 2 months.
It was the only child they had with them so I can only assume that it was their first baby. They had been parents for 2 months. They probably have no clue what they’re doing. I know I didn’t when I was in their position. I doubt they’ve slept much either. They definitely don’t need my petty judgements so that I can feel better about myself. They need to be surrounded by people who help them, love them and try to lift them up. Like we all do, no matter what our situation is.
This experience has had me thinking all day. Why is it so easy to notice the mistakes others make and use them to try an build ourselves up? There have been plenty of times that I have had cold kids because I wasn’t prepared like I should have been. It doesn’t make me any less of a person. And the fact that I was prepared today doesn’t make me a better mom. More experienced? Probably. But better? Certainly not.
We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed. The race we are really in is the race against sin.
This life isn’t a contest to see who dressed their baby correctly for the weather. If that was the issue here, I think I had a slight advantage since I’ve been a mother for 9+ years compared to their 2 months. The real issue is the race against sin and I definitely sinned. I was full of pride. If I hadn’t given that baby my blanket to use, it would have survived. It had two parents that had coats that they could have used or other ways to keep it warm. Or it might have been pretty cold for a half hour. But if I hadn’t been reminded gently by a loving Heavenly Father to see if there is a way to help those around me instead of judging them I would still be filled with pride which is a whole lot worse than having a cold baby for a few minutes.
Even though it is hard to have a weakness so apparent to me I am grateful for the experience. I am glad to have humility forced upon me and I hope that the next time I can quickly offer the blanket instead of letting a baby freeze for 10 minutes while I get my act together.