Because women generally take what we do and the lifestyle choices we make so seriously, simple choices can cause division between women. Here are 5 tips on making lifestyle choices without creating division.
Guest post by Angie Tolpin
Women are bombarded with an incredible amount of choices to make with regard to parenting, education, eating, health, and so on. Because women generally take what we do and the lifestyle choices we make so seriously, simply making the choice to cloth diaper, for example, can cause division between women, regardless of one’s heart on the matter.
When I was a young mom I had no idea how the decisions that we made as parents, as individuals, would greatly influence or limit the depth of some of our relationships. Even if we never meant them to.
I have sensed a growing division among women over the course of the last decade and a half. It seems to be that the more choices we have in life the more opportunity there is for division. Whether you have seen mommy wars lighting up your social media newsfeed or you sense the subtle non-verbal judgmentalism from women in your church, we have all experienced this division I speak of.
Maybe you have even contributed to the division or experienced verbal attacks by simply being a spokeswoman for a certain lifestyle choice.
Whatever the case, this division among women is not glorifying to God. In fact, it dims our light in this world and disables us from effectively functioning as the body of Christ.
Just as we desire our children to not only get along, but also to love each other, be there for one another, and be a family, so does God desire that of His daughters!
So how do we as Christians, as sisters in the body of Christ, approach making decisions on lifestyle issues without creating division?
5 Tips to Making Lifestyle Choices without Creating Division
1. Be aware and guard your heart against falling to the temptation of making an idol out of a lifestyle choice.
If you think more highly of yourself than you ought because of a lifestyle choice you have made, such as homeschooling, you have most likely allowed that good work to become an idol.
That doesn’t mean you quit doing what your decision was. It could be a good and healthy decision. And most importantly, it could be what God has called you to. Just be aware of the sin that you have committed in making it an idol, becoming prideful. Then deal with it. Confess and repent of your sins before the Lord so that it might not have a hold on you or become something that divides you and others.
2. Strive to keep a biblical perspective when it comes to choices.
Be careful not to make lifestyle choices eternal issues when they are simply liberties.
3. Obey what God calls you to, but don’t push your agenda on others.
You are going to need to make your decision, but you do not need to make your sister’s decision for her.
Pray for her. If she asks, share what you have learned, but do it in a way that doesn’t push your agenda.
Give her the information and encourage her to pray about it and make a decision in alignment with her husband. And then affirm her that you will love her regardless of what they choose to do. Recognize and respect that they are on their own journey, as a married couple, as parents, and she is as a sister.
Don’t take offense if they make a different decision than you have.
4. Don’t Be a Pharisee.
Recognize that one’s identity has nothing to do with what they DO in this life. And encourage your sister in that! If you don’t believe that, keep preaching it to yourself until you do. Be careful not to judge or stereotype others based upon what you see on the outside. You don’t know their personal circumstances.
God’s gift of grace covers a multitude of sins and mistakes: both past, present, and future. And that free gift of grace covers you and your sister as well. We all make mistakes, but fortunately they are NOT part of who we are. Don’t withhold grace from her. God doesn’t. Plus, it isn’t yours to withhold.
5. Make sure that your friendships are truly founded on the rock of Jesus.
It is healthy for us to be able to share about all of our lives, but a healthy relationship always finds common ground in Jesus Christ. Go deeper in your relationships. Share what you are learning. Pray together and for one another regularly. Be generous with your love and support. It’s the gospel that changes us, and the gospel that enables us.
Grace, grace, and more grace. And a good healthy dose of reality and humility is what this all comes down to sisters. We need to be ever aware of our humanity and thankful for Christ’s grace. It is only then that we can fully love our sister for WHO SHE IS IN CHRIST and not take offense because of noneternal issues.
Imagine the possibilities of what the church could accomplish if we were to truly love and accept one another the way Christ loved us.
How have you successfully made lifestyle choices without causing division in your relationships?
This post was inspired by the new Bible study that has just released entitled Redeeming the Division: The Quiet Fight Between Women! To find out more about going through this online study individually or leading a small group visit here!
Angie has been married to her husband Isaac for 16 years and is the busy mom of 6, with one on the way. Passionate about living out theology in the every day, Angie also loves a good ladies night out with kindred sisters who know how to authentically share and laugh. She is the author of Redeeming Childbirth, and writes on Leaving a Legacy through marriage, motherhood, and mentoring at her blog. Check out her new online Bible study called Redeeming the Division: The Quiet Fight Between Women.
Disclosure: I have included affiliate links in this post. Thank you for your support.
I think the closer we become to Jesus, the more we will have the character of Jesus and only love could be poured out of our hearts and mouth 🙂
I have been very aware of this in the past few years, as I am a young wife and mother to three young boys. I have had to make lots of decisions concerning different areas of my family’s life and some of them have differed from my closest friends. I have caught myself on more than one occasion being the one that’s causing the separation but I feel the only way to not cause a division and defensiveness among the other mothers with differing opinions/desicions is just to simply not voice my opinion. I have struggled with knowing the balance on how much to share what I have learned or decided for my family. Sometimes it seems I have nothing to add to a conversation and just end up listening and nodding my head seeming like I agree(even if I don’t) because this is in my forethought. I don’t normally comment on articles but this really hit home for me. Great points, I wish we all could figure out the balance and learn to love one another and build strong Christ centered relationships.
And what are we arguing over anyway? Cloth diapers vs. disposable…homeschooling vs. traditional school….breast feeding vs. bottle feeding. How pathetic!
Does the fact that I was breastfed make me a better employee than my coworker who was bottle fed? Does the fact that I wore cloth diapers make me a better citizen than my neighbor who wore disposables? Does the fact that I went to a traditional school make me a better wife than my friend who was homeschooled?
Of course not! Yet we keep on taking these piddly issues and turning them into Serious Things That Must Be Debated Endlessly – when in reality they don’t make one bit of difference in how our kids turn out. Let’s keep our eyes on the bigger picture. Are the kids we encounter well fed? Do they appear healthy? Clean? Decently clothed? Most importantly do their moms and dads clearly LOVE them? These are the things that should concern us. Not what kind of diaper they wear!
out with old in with new quotes
Emphasising yet again the importance of having two, three or four email accounts.I have an email account for professional issues. I have an email for personal issues. I also have a throw away hotmail account that I have had for ten years. I use it to sign for loads of online web sites such as newspaper sites and sites like the NYT above. No one I know knows it so no one writes to em on it. So all the crap goes to it and most gets sucked up by the spam filter. I confirm subscription emails and check it once a month to keep it alive.
I love that this being brought up! However, I feel that there is one more step. That is, to not take anyone else’s choices as a judgement on you or your choices. On a play date at the park, I get my kids snacks out, and it starts… “Oh, do you always eat organic?” My answer is usually “We try to as much as we can.” At this point I’d like to move the conversation to something less divisive, but before I can change the subject, I usually am subjected to a long list of why they choose not to eat organic or why they can’t. The exact same thing happens when someone asks where my kids go to school. When I say the name (it’s the only private school in town, everyone knows that it is private), I get a look and “Oh, well here’s all of the reasons my kids don’t go there”. I love my kids and make the best choices for them that I can, and I assume that most other parents do the same. I, in no way, presume to think that the choices we have made would be best for anyone else’s family. I don’t try to flaunt our choices or shame others for making different choices, but somehow people just get really defensive when they hear or see that my choices are different. I always try to play down the differences, but there is always underlying tension about them :(. Can’t we just love each other and think the best of one another? Sorry for the long comment, it just really hurts when people assume that I think I’m better, based on my choices. When the truth is, I believe that they are great parents!
Thanks for bringing this up! As a newer mom (oldest is 2 1/2) I’ve found this division to happen so frequently and so unintentionally. However, I’ve never really thought through the issue..so it was helpful to read someone else’s thought-through response to it.
I’m definitely guilty of assuming certain moms and I won’t “click” because of our outward decisions. This isn’t always a bad assumption but in some cases, I could be missing out on great friends. This was a great reminder to be aware of the division that some small things can cause..and to check my heart when I feel judged or judgmental of another mom’s decision!