I remember it as if it were yesterday. I was a young mom, with four young children. It was Wednesday night after a church service, and I was struggling to get all the kids out to the van. My husband stays for choir practice, so I was on my own. I stopped in the hall by the door to get everyone zipped, etc. The kids weren't exactly being cooperative, and being eight months pregnant, the job wasn't too easy. So, I was getting rather irritated as I gritted my teeth and bent to zip coats, pick up pictures they had colored, etc. A man standing there asked if I needed help, and I said, "No, they're almost ready." He continued to watch as I struggled. (My two-year-old had seen Daddy and didn't want to leave!) Finally, the man chucked and said, "Kathie, I thought my wife was the only one who ever got like that!" Although I was embarrassed at being ‘caught", I went home laughing, because what he said is SO true! We go to church and put on our best smile and act as though we never have a problem. As we look at those around us we think how they seem to have it all together. Why don't we?! The truth is though (sorry to disappoint you!) that all of us have our problems and weaknesses, because we're all human. Therefore, when we see someone at church who seems to be the ‘perfect' Christian, we get discouraged about our own condition. Also, we get very shocked if that same person does make a mistake in front of us! We're so shocked when someone treats us wrong, or yells at their kids, or shows anger. We need to remember that we are all human and whether we see that person's weakness or just their ‘good' side, it doesn't change that fact.
I think it is important to teach this to our kids. One time after my girls went to play at a friend's house from our homeschool group, they came home and told me their friend was mean to them. She spoke unkindly, and wouldn't share certain toys. They were so surprised because she always seemed so nice! I reminded them that they acted that way at times too, and they shouldn't look down on their friend. It was a good chance to remind them we all do wrong at times. Therefore, when we see someone else fail, we shouldn't look down on them. Instead we should think of times when we've failed. This helps keep the kids (and me!) from being judgmental.
As adults, I think we could be a help and encouragement to others in this area. I always hated it when I would ask a new mother (with several kids like me) how she was getting along, and she would give me a sweet smile, and say, "Oh, just fine! Really good!" It would make we wonder why I was having a rough time sometimes handling the demands of 5 children. On the other hand, I loved it when another mom would admit that she too had days that were frustrating. It's not a sin to struggle or have a hard time doing what is right, yet we don't seem to want to admit that we do struggle. I think this is especially true in our homeschooling. It's so easy to go to co-op or support group meetings, and see all the smiling moms, and think you are the only one who has kids that have bad attitudes, or don't want to do their work, etc. I don't think we should sit at these meetings and complain, but it would be helpful if at times we would just say, "Hey, I'm really struggling with such and such. Have you ever had that problem? Can you tell me what helped you deal with it?" Sometimes admitting it, and telling others what has helped you is a big help to others. So, don't be afraid to share what works for you and thereby encourage someone!