Amy at Amy’s Humble Musings had a really great post recently. She was referring to the example of a mother who is unable, though she tries, to breastfeed her child and is forced to use formula. However, I believe the main point can apply to other areas (emphasis mine):
And so, the woman on the breastfeeding soapbox misses the greater principle of loving her neighbor while she concentrates on the fact that breastmilk really is best. (It is!) The young woman, in wisdom, feeds her child the inferior thing, as she knows that the greater thing is to make sure her baby has nourishment, even if it is painfully not her own. Oftentimes, the one being chastised isn’t unaware of the information, and in this case, she is actually more informed than her informer.
I hardly ever mention it anymore, because it seems that whomever I’m talking to is convinced that I’m just not “doing it right.” The implication is that if I loved my child, I’d get to the bottom of it.
It ought not to be this way. Motherhood is not a competition but a calling. We are too needful of one another to be so short-suffering. Sometimes we concentrate on small things and miss the greater thing; sometimes we think a perfect method is a good substitute for genuine love. In the end, older mothers will tell you that their grown, married sons who are serving the Lord didn’t much care that they were bottle-fed.
I really liked this. Sometimes I think we can get caught up in the little issues and make them black-and-white. And sometimes, when we try convince everyone to hold to our convictions, it can hurt others.
I have a friend who has different convictions than I. And by this, I mean that she is much more conservative than I – wearing skirts, serving her husband from home, letting God control how many babies she has and when she has them. I admire her, though I do not hold to the same convictions. Once, early in our friendship, we were discussing something. I don’t even remember what it was, but I remember that I made a quite liberal statement, one that she would definitely disagree with. My friend graciously didn’t take the bait. She didn’t agree nor verbally disagree. However, she did use the next few months to gently tell me where she stood. She didn’t try to beat it into me and make me turn from my wicked ways. In love she demonstrated where she stood. And you know what? I began to change my mind. Not that she was brainwashing me, but as she explained her position, and I read the Bible on my own, I began to see her perspective. I think if she had argued with me at the time of my original statement, I would have been put on the defensive and would have never listened to her. That’s one of the things I appreciate about her – she is very gracious, and she knows when to speak and when to keep quiet.
Too often I want to jump in passionately when I’m conversing with someone I disagree with, and it does nothing but make the relationship between friends strained. Once, a friend of mine made mention that she plans to continue her full-time job after having children. I remember leaving a heated comment on her blog saying that, “Women should stay home with their children.” That is my conviction, but it was definitely the wrong time to make a blanket statement. All it did was hurt my friend, who really does want the best for her kids. I’m not expecting her to ever change her mind, but I will not try to push the issue unless an opportunity presents itself for me to graciously explain my position. I learned through this situation that holding your tongue sometimes is the best way to say the truth in love.
Don’t get me wrong, of course; my friend knows where I stand. However, saying the right thing at the wrong time is sometimes worse than not saying anything at all.