“Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye, then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.”
My mother used this “Bible” verse all the time when she wanted to make a point about accountability. The great thing about my mother was that her understanding of the Word, as she called it, came from a very intimate spiritual connection to God. The “Bible,” especially the New Testament was my parents’ self-help book, source of inspiration and enlightenment and primer for child rearing. Neither parent had the Word revealed to them by some school of Theology or even a pastor who interpreted it for them. Their understanding came through constant contact with God in sincere prayer to have the way of life revealed to them so that they could not only enter into Heaven upon death but to make their life’s journey better and overcome issues of poverty, racism, abusive parents and alcohol addiction.
Although we remained poor, my mother never took a victim’s stance nor blamed others for our lot in life. She did what she had to do and always focused on providing a home with all the basic necessities for us children. Her children were her joy and life’s greatest blessing. After making sure we had the basics, extra money went for luxuries like school supplies and Christmas lights and treats. There were times when there was nothing left over, but we were taught to be grateful for what we had.
“Our daily bread” came from what Mom grew in the garden or from the grocery store.
My mother and father were paid weekly, so every Friday she went to the store and bought all the food we would need for our “three squares” each day for the upcoming week. In the summer, when food was more plentiful, we picked wild blackberries and strawberries. We picked the apples and pears from the trees that grew in our yard. Mom made delicious cobblers and fried apple pies and canned jams and jellies. She also bought bushels of peaches and canned those. She canned green beans, pickled beets and made sauerkraut. In the winter when Daddy was unemployed due to seasonal work, we ate well from the well stocked pantry and freezer.
We played hide and seek, tag, swinging statues, lemonade and red rover. We walked to the library and checked out books. We played marbles, jacks and sang and watched television for entertainment. In the winter we weren’t bored; we were too busy doing homework or helping with chores.
We eventually were able to buy the small shotgun house on the lower west side of Louisville, but even when we rented, our home was always clean and neat. My mother and father were always accountable for providing for their six children. This was a source of pride for them. Growing up on this “Bible” verse and seeing it lived helped me to learn to look to myself. Learning accountability and responsibility paved the way for a scholarship to college and a successful academic and teaching career. I have had many challenges along the way that I could have attributed to the work of someone else and become a victim, but my mother’s words of wisdom always surfaced to remind me to look at my part in creating the challenges and focus on fixing that before I tried to fix someone else. This homespun wisdom has served me well.