I used to see a mom in the store with a baby in a cast, and I would glance at her with a somewhat bewildered sense of pity. How sad to have a baby in a cast. How could she do her grocery shopping, just walking through the store and picking out her peanut butter like any other normal person?
I used to picture all the things I would do differently if it were my baby screaming on the airplane.
And I used to think breastfeeding wasn’t that hard. You just ate right, drank a lot of water, and tried really hard to be consistent and make it work. Mama instincts just kicked in and it was one of those things that just came naturally, right?
But then I became “that guy.”
It was me who was the sick kid mama. My baby was in the hospital having surgery at six months old. I was the mom shopping for peanut butter with her little one in a funny seat in the basket of the cart because he wouldn’t fit in the seat they provide. I got the sideways glances and the looks of pity.
I’ve been the person who was paralyzed with fear as I battled through a solid month of intense spiritual warfare. I was the one who was hearing things and seeing things and would almost hyperventilate before bed because I was so terrified of what would happen when I laid down to go to sleep.
I’ve been the woman who ended up in the ICU after my baby was born, anemic, exhausted, dealing with a blood clot, and fighting to keep nursing him. And it was me that made several stops to the maternity wings of hospitals, crying, to talk with lactation consultants because I was hurting so badly and was ready to give up.
I have been the mom with the screaming baby on an airplane. On the last leg of our journey home from Bolivia, after almost 20 hours of travel time, we were seated just behind first class and my little boy decided to have a melt down for almost an hour.
And friends, I’m in my mid-twenties, married, with a baby…and I moved back in with my parents. Well, my husband’s parents. We outgrew our little rental and can’t buy a house or rent a place big enough right now in the crazy Denver housing market. It’s me.
It definitely softens your view of others who are in certain situations when you’ve been there, you’ve done that, you’ve walked down that road. I think that’s something God has done in my life, and continues to do in my life, is walk with me through hard things and through circumstances I would rather not be in. It has allowed me to be humbled, to be refined. To have less judgment and more grace. Less skepticism and more understanding. Less assessing and more cheering on of those who are walking down a hard road.
Don’t judge anyone for the situation you see them in. You don’t know what other roads they have walked down, or how God is using this road to shape them and mold them. God uses our hard things and the circumstances we’ve faced to touch our hearts so we can help others through those things.
I wouldn’t have chosen for myself most of the hard roads I have had to walk down. But because I have been down the paths that I have, I’ve joined several baby hip dysplasia groups on Facebook and am able to be there for other moms who are scared, lonely, or unsure of what the future looks like. I was that guy.
I have been able to speak in wisdom and give advice from a place not of fear to people in spiritual battles. And I understand a little more deeply the importance and power of prayer. I was that guy.
I gained humility in needing help during a time when I didn’t want people to see the weak or uncertain side of me as I struggled in my first few months of motherhood. I was that guy.
I can give gracious looks and words of encouragement to the parents whose child is screaming and having a meltdown. They don’t need anyone to tell them to get their kid in order. They need permission to have bad days, and for their child to be an independent person making their own choices. I was that guy.
And I have learned that all sorts of tough circumstances can land grown children back in their parents’ house, like crazy housing markets, baby hip surgeries, and budgets that just won’t add up no matter how many times you crunch them. I am that guy!
People need help. Sometimes life knocks us off our feet, and we need support and love and encouragement, not judgment or questions of “are you even trying?”
We need those who have gone before us. And we need to be those people who have gone before when someone else needs us.
So when you’re that guy. Let God use it. Some of the most powerful testimonies happen when we walk down hard paths and come out of it willing to let God use our story. Let Him walk with you through the hard things, and watch as you come out able to help others who are walking the road that you did.