By LIBBO CROSSWHITE
In John Chapter 8, the Pharisees brought Jesus a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Displaying the depths of her sin and shame for the entire crowd to see, they were ready and willing to condemn her for her sin. When they demanded a response from Jesus, He bent down in the dirt, first ignoring the crowd of accusers, and then challenging them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,” Jesus boldly proclaimed.
One by one, the crowd started to diminish until it was just Jesus and the woman. The woman was, no doubt, forever changed because she had experienced the freedom of His grace. Jesus exemplifies the heart and soul of an advocate—loving the woman in her sin and yet challenging her to “Go and sin no more.” It’s so easy to let the attitude of an accuser find its way into our life until we, ourselves, have our eyes opened to the very nature of our sin and the redemption of Christ.
I was reminded of this truth when we visited a water park this summer. This particular park had a children’s happy hour where they could play games for coins that would earn them a trip to the treasure box at the end of the day. Mary Thomas was no doubt going to be all up in every single game played that hour.
The first few were team games that had children of all ages involved. Her team won the first game for one coin, and I, of course, gave the giant eye roll when the emcee told us at the end of the game, “Everyone’s a winner!” and gave all participants a coin. I laughed to myself in the typical, “This is what’s wrong with America” know-it-all tone, because that’s what we do, right? We are ready to point fingers and accuse when we are on the winning side of things.
The individual games began shortly after and offered me a well-deserved gut check. The first was a footrace to see how many Ping-Pong balls a child could gather in 30 seconds. Hundreds of balls were thrown into the water and the kids were all behind a line, ready to pounce on as many balls as they could gather.
The image will forever be embedded in my brain—Mary Thomas in her puddle jumper looking across the kiddie pool with a big grin and a thumbs-up, and so much joy and optimism. She had no clue what was behind her—two boys that looked to be 8 or 9 years old, both eyeing victory and double her size. I began to stand to “help” her when Clay grabbed my arm and told me to let her do it on her own. As soon as the whistle blew, what I was afraid was going to happen did just that: the boys trampled over Mary Thomas and before I knew it, there were very few balls left to gather.
I could see the disappointment on her face and the defeat in her posture. So without hesitation, I leaped right in the middle of the kiddie pool, found one of those boys, who was rolling around trying to grab the last few balls, and I snatched two balls straight from his hand, “HEY! Those are mine!” the boy (rightfully) said to me in a confused, slightly terrified tone. The voice from deep inside my soul that hadn’t appeared since my B-team basketball trash-talking days arose to sternly whisper in this innocent child’s face “They’re. Mine. Now.” Before Mary could even get up from the ground (those puddle jumpers weigh more than she does), I scooped her up and had two Ping-Pong balls in my hand. “Thanks, mom! You’re the best.” I had rescued my girl. Sure, I had probably traumatized another child on her behalf, but I was her superhero.
Our two Ping-Pong balls got us a 3-ounce bottle of bubbles from the treasure box that Russell thoroughly enjoyed pouring out all over Mary’s feet and in her suitcase. But for me, a much bigger prize was earned that day. The realization that there are three words that I should keep out of my vocabulary—“I would never”—because if I’m honest, it’s so easy to accuse others or point out how others are doing it wrong. It’s so easy to advocate for my children, to fight for them and protect them. But what about advocating for motherhood?
If I’m honest, I demand grace from my Father, but I’m not sure that I am as eager to freely give it to those on this motherhood journey with me. Being a mom is hard—there are no do-overs and I constantly feel the pressure for perfection. It’s so easy to say what we will or won’t do as a parent until we are down in the dirt—or in the kiddie pool in my case.
John 8 teaches us that Jesus is ready and willing to get down in the dirt with us, to advocate for us. He challenges us to live a life free of the chains of sin, but first He shows us the redemption that can only be experienced in and through Him. May we show each the same mercy on our good days and the days when we need it most.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Brandon and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 3 years old and a son, Russell, who is 11/2 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy.