It's OK

Posted by Rebecca Black on Monday, January 23, 2012
Recently a clergy colleague asked this question: "How do we let people know we are not judging them?" 

 I have been thinking about it ever since. How do we let anyone know we are not judging them, when the popular image of Christianity promoted by sensational news stories is of a religion that both judges and condemns at the drop of a hat? How do we preach and teach non-judgment when whole churches turn out to hold signs telling the world that "God Hates ____ (fill in the blank)" ? How do we signal non-judgment in our actions when our words might be missing or ignored?

Its a tough one. First-timers at Rhythms of Grace are often nervous about their child's behavior. If their child begins to melt down, they search the faces of the volunteers trying to gauge our reaction. Often they rush in to try to manage the child, nervously watching us to make sure we are not judging. Rest assured parents! I can pretty much tell you what is going through the head of every volunteer there:

"It's ok. We understand your child is overwhelmed or having a bad day/hour/minute. We think very highly of your parenting -- you brought your child here because you ARE a good parent. We don't think they're a bad kid. Please don't stress about it. How can we help?"

For many of us, a child melting down at Rhythms of Grace is a moment of recognition, as well as wry exchange of memories: "Remember when my child threw the Legos across the room? Remember when my grandson started screaming and wouldn't stop? Remember when we started out in the car for Rhythms of Grace and the meltdowns got so bad we just turned around and went home?" WE HAVE BEEN THERE.

Rhythms of Grace is intended to help build community among a group of families who don't have easy access to a nurturing and supportive community. 

Some of our highest high points this first year have been simple. The tears in a parent's eyes when they share communion with their child. The look on a parent's face when their child and another share a social exchange. The amazing glimpses into our children's personalities and thoughts and talents. And the first times we were able to tell a parent -- "It's ok. We want you to be here, screams and all. We're happy to have you."

When families can't make it to a Rhythms of Grace service, we miss them. But we never want them to feel that there is any condemnation that they didn't make it. Beyond all other things, WE UNDERSTAND. And we will be so very happy to see you when next you come.

It's OK.