“What’s wrong with your son?” I turned from browsing bags of salad to see an older gentleman staring at the helmet on the head of my baby boy in the shopping cart. I was unprepared for my reaction to his question. My heart started to pound, my hands felt sweaty, and my face was getting hot. What did he mean what’s “wrong” with him?

I had so many things I wanted to say! I had to fight the urge to not go all “Mama Gump” on him and shout “What’s the matter, you’ve never seen a little boy with a helmet on his head before?” Instead, I forced a smile and calmly explained that my son wears a helmet because he has a flat spot on his head (plagiocephaly) and the helmet will correct the shape of his skull. He smiled, thanked me for explaining, waved at my son, then went about his shopping.

But I was still mad. As I was driving home, I had an article all written up in my head. “Things NOT to Say to the Mother of a Baby Wearing a Helmet: Another Public Service Announcement From an Offended Mother.” I was so frustrated that he phrased his question that way!

Who is responsible for your reaction to the situation? The still, small voice asked a question that got me thinking. We are easily offended these days, aren’t we? Obviously, myself included. In an effort to increase sensitivity, we’ve created these lists of “things not to say” and “terms not to use.” Please don’t misunderstand my point. It’s important to educate people on how to be respectful with their words. But we can’t control what other people say. Instead, we should focus on what we can control.

I can only control myself. I can also raise my family so that they understand both the power of words and how to react to them appropriately. If my son was old enough to understand the situation, what would I want him to learn from it? What truths do I want to teach him about words?

  1. Give people the benefit of the doubt. This man did not intend to make me upset. He was just curious. The issue was the way that I interpreted his question. Could he have phrased his question differently? Yes, but I shouldn’t be offended every time someone says something I don’t like. Rudeness is not the same as bullying. Political incorrectness or lack of tact does not necessarily indicate ill intent. Sometimes people don’t mean to upset us. So, before you react, assess the situation by…
  2. Being quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry (James 1:19-20). Many situations get blown out of proportion because we don’t grasp this. Many conflicts could be diffused if we choose to listen first, think about what we say before we speak (or don’t speak at all) and keep our cool.
  3. You are not responsible for what other people say or do but you are responsible for your reaction. “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1) It’s tempting to retaliate when someone says something that hurts us, but this only makes the situation worse.
  4. Words matter. Your words can bring life and encouragement or pain and suffering (Proverbs 18:21). Always choose words that build people up! (Ephesians 4:29)
  5. You need to forgive as you have been forgiven (Colossians 3:13). At some point, you will mess up. You’ll say the wrong thing, too. Even if you didn’t mean it. So when someone does it to you, forgive.
  6. You were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). He determines your value, not the world. You can choose to take hurtful words to heart or you can choose to trust the truth. Don’t let other people’s words define who you are or how you behave. Remember who you are in Christ.
  7. Your mama says there isn’t anything “wrong” with you.
So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Shannon Lenz

I am a wife to my best friend, a mama to a sweet boy and baby girl, and a dog mom. My mission is to write words that encourage, comfort, inspire, and draw my readers closer to the Lord. When I'm not writing or chasing after my kids, I'm singing, reading, or cheering on the Huskers. You can read more from me at http://shannonlenz.com/.

God Redeemed the Broken Parts of My Infertility Story

In: Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Two young children walking on a path near a pond, color photo

It was a Wednesday morning when I sat around a table with a group of mamas I had just recently met. My youngest daughter slept her morning nap in a carrier across my chest. Those of us in the group who held floppy babies swayed back and forth. The others had children in childcare or enrolled in preschool down the road. We were there to chat, learn, grow, and laugh. We were all mamas. But we were not all the same. I didn’t know one of the mom’s names, but I knew I wanted to get to know her because she...

Keep Reading

God Has You

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman hugging herself while looking to the side

Holding tight to the cold, sterile rail of the narrow, rollaway ER bed, I hovered helplessly over my oldest daughter. My anxious eyes bounced from her now steadying breaths to the varying lines and tones of the monitor overhead. Audible reminders of her life that may have just been spared. For 14 years, we’d been told anaphylaxis was possible if she ingested peanuts. But it wasn’t until this recent late autumn evening we would experience the fear and frenzy of our apparent new reality. My frantic heart hadn’t stopped racing from the very moment she struggled to catch a breath....

Keep Reading

My Husband Having a Stroke at 30 Wasn’t in Our Plans

In: Faith, Living
Husband and wife, selfie, color photo

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) This verse in the book of Jeremiah has long been a favorite of mine. In fact, it’s felt relevant across many life events. Its simple, yet powerful reminder has been a place of solace, perhaps even a way to maintain equilibrium when I’ve felt my world spinning a bit out of control. In this season of starting fresh and new year intentions, I find great comfort in knowing...

Keep Reading

She Left Him on Valentine’s Day

In: Faith, Marriage
Husband kissing wife on cheek, color photo

“Can you believe that?” Those were the dreaded knife-cutting whispers I heard from across the table. I sunk deeper into my chair. My hopes fell as everyone would forever remember that I had left my fiancée on Valentine’s Day. Maybe one day it would just dissipate like the dream wedding I had planned or the canceled plane tickets for the Hawaiian honeymoon. Some bridesmaids and guests had already booked plane tickets. It was my own nightmare that kept replaying in my head over and over again. I had messed up. Big time. To be honest, if it made any difference,...

Keep Reading

God was In the Room for Our Daughter’s Open Heart Surgery

In: Faith, Motherhood
Child's hand with IV

I’ve had a strong faith for as long as I can remember, but I always felt bad that I never had a “testimony.” I had never gone through something that made me sit back and say, “Wow, God is real, He is here.” I have always felt it to my core, but no moment had ever stopped me dead in my tracks to where there was no denying that it was God. And then, that moment happened to me on December 5. After five months of fervently praying for a miracle for our daughter, the day came for her heart...

Keep Reading

A Benediction for the Worn Out Mother

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman leaning against kitchen counter, black-and-white photo

Blessed are you, Father, for bestowing upon me the honor of motherhood. For allowing me to experience the deep joy of bringing forth life—a joy I often take for granted and instead choose to begrudge. My children’s cries and demands have worn me down. I do not recognize myself. I selfishly long for the old me. My thoughts are an intangible mess of never-ending tasks, self-criticism, and comparison to those around me. RELATED: God Sees You, Weary Mama But Your word says you are near to the broken-hearted and downtrodden. You do not forget the cause of the tired and the...

Keep Reading

God Doesn’t Forget You When You’re Lost and Unsure

In: Faith, Living
Woman looking into camera, color photo

I’ve been wandering around feeling lost for over a year. Wondering where I’m going, what I’m supposed to be doing. Nothing seems to make sense. I felt purposeless. I felt stuck. I questioned everything: my faith, my marriage, my career—if it could be questioned, I doubted it. And I was completely clueless how to fix the funk. For over a year, I’ve been in the wilderness. I’ve wanted to find my way, but every path seemed like another dead end. The wilderness. I’ve been residing there. Not feeling fed. Not feeling heard. Not feeling seen. Struggling to find a purpose....

Keep Reading

And Then, the Darkness Lifts

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother with baby smiling

Today when I woke, it had lifted, like sunshine peeking after rain. And as my toddler clicked on the lamp beside my bed to see her mama, I saw me too. I got out of bed and I walked down the hall. And the coffee pot sat there waiting for me, as always, like my husband at the kitchen table with his books. He smiled at me, and I think he could tell as I took my medicine, took down a mug, and poured my coffee. I opened the secretary desk and pulled out the chair and my Bible, like...

Keep Reading

Joy in This Stillness

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding sleeping toddler, color photo

I woke up suddenly in a sweat while it was still dark. Except for the humming of the oxygen machine, the house was silent. For a moment, I thought I might have time to enjoy a cup of coffee before my son woke up. However, a glance at my daughter’s crib told me that feeding my caffeine addiction would have to wait. My daughter has a terminal brain disorder called Lissencephaly, a side effect of which is uncontrolled epilepsy. Many mornings, a subconscious recognition that she is having episodes of repeated seizures rouses me from my sleep. Throwing on a...

Keep Reading

Sometimes All We Can Do Is Say How Hard Motherhood Is

In: Faith, Motherhood
Tired mom with baby in foreground

I have been sitting in the peace and quiet of the office to do some long overdue Bible study for all of five minutes when the baby wakes up. With a heavy sigh that is becoming all too common, I go to the bedroom to pick up my fussy, probably getting sick, 8-month-old daughter who has been asleep for approximately 15 minutes. I bring her to the office and put her on the floor with some new books and toys. Sitting back down in front of my own new book of Bible maps and charts, I begin reading once again....

Keep Reading