March 1, 2024

I am a mother to two beautiful children. My son, Lincoln, is almost five, and my daughter, Corrie, is eight months as I write this. My children bring me such joy, but as anyone who has raised a toddler or young child knows, I am often faced with challenging moments. In my time so far as a parent, I have frequently sought the advice of experts in the field of child development and behavior to guide me. One such expert whom I have gleaned much knowledge from is Dr. Becky Kennedy.

In her book Good Inside, Dr. Kennedy writes about the idea of the “most generous interpretation.” This concept requires us to shift our mindset about why certain behaviors occur. For example, instead of thinking that a child who throws a toy is a “bad” kid who will never respect the value of his or her things, we should use the most generous interpretation of the situation to think about how it can be difficult to share toys and frustrating when things don’t work out like we want them to. When we do so, it allows us to build empathy for the person who made a mistake rather than shaming or seeing them as “bad.” We tend to jump to negative conclusions when we see our children misbehave. However, Dr. Kennedy encourages us to shift that mindset to “How can I interpret this misbehavior through the most generous lens?”

This Lenten season, we are focusing on the message of John 3:16 and 17. In verse 16, we are told of God’s love for us. Then, verse 17 gives us a beautiful promise of God’s mercy. Knowing that God did not send his Son to condemn us but to save us gives me such hope. God sees all of the mistakes we make daily, and He meets us with grace. To me, this is the ultimate generous interpretation. As Romans 5:8 says, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

As we move toward Easter Sunday, I would encourage you to see those in your own lives through the lens of the most generous interpretation. Whether it’s a child, a parent, a coworker, a spouse, or a friend, whenever someone close to you makes a mistake, try reminding yourself that they are a good person who is having a difficult moment. And when you inevitably make a mistake, find hope
in knowing that we are not condemned but saved through God’s grace.

Morgan Jones, Associate Director of Meals on Wheels OKC