One of my favorite family pics of almost all of us a few years ago!

Monday, March 3, 2014

CASTING BLAME: There, but for the Grace of God, Go I."

Yesterday, I posted the story of God waking me up from a deep sleep prompting me to think about the possibility of accidentally leaving one of my little ones in the car by making me think I had forgotten my 5-year-old in the car the night before!  I hadn’t actually left him, but within 2 hours of being jolted awake with that feeling, my visiting 4-year-old granddaughter was actually forgotten for a few moments in the car after a quick trip to school for drop off. 

God knows me well.  If it had been a vague feeling about something that might happen in the future, I probably would have dismissed it as my thought. 

If I had actually left a child in the car, I like to think that I would have been prompted much sooner! But by making me stop, process and think about what I had done it was at the forefront of my busy mind.

When my son wasn’t at breakfast (which actually isn’t unusual), it made me ask for more detail and gave me the chance to talk to the kids.

So, because I was so checked into this crazy feeling, when it actually happened within a few hours, God had prepared me to act.
The truth is, even if she had been left longer, it was neither too hot nor too cold to cause any long-term damage to her body.  But it would have messed with her emotions. And it would have been terribly scary.

But God protected her.  If it had just been me or my husband, we could have forgotten her for longer.  I could have thought she was back upstairs in the playroom playing with her cousin’s Barbies.

When new factors are introduced - a grandchild that isn’t usually with us on a school morning and normally doesn’t ride along for the trip to school – it is easy to go into rote action mode, not really thinking about what you are doing, but just doing it.

Likewise, when you do the same thing over and over again, sometimes you actually think that you have done something, when actually you did it yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that, but NOT today.

But your brain can play tricks on you.  And so can the Enemy. 

It’s not always about caring or not caring. 

It’s not always about loving or not loving.

It’s not always about selfishness or selflessness.

It’s not always too many children or not enough experience.

It’s not always about work or something else being more important.

It’s not about anything other than humanity.

When tragedy strikes a family, I cringe when people are critical of the parent(s). I can’t stand to see the daggars come out as people try to find someone to blame, as if that will solve the problem. 

Although it is certainly possible for some of these situations to be the result of abuse or neglect, the result of drugs or alcohol, truthfully, that isn’t the norm.

I know what abuse and neglect looks like.  I live with the consequences every day.

I also know what it means to be human.  To be overwhelmed.  To be lost in your own thoughts.  To make a mistake. 

And who is going to suffer more than the parent who makes this mistake?

The people casting judgment will forget the incident.

They will forget the name of the one who is now gone.

Their lives will move on as if nothing ever happened. 

Some of these people feel, “It can’t happen to me.”

“I would never let that happen to my child.”

“How could you forget your child?”

 How can you think that you dropped off your child at daycare when you didn’t?"

And it is these people that scare me.  The ones who actually believe they could never make this kind of tragic mistake.

I am an educated woman who has voluntarily dedicated most of my adult life to helping children.  I have more experience than most people.  I have more education and knowledge than many.  Yet, I could easily make a mistake that harms someone else.  And that scares me enough to be hyper vigilant and to listen to the promptings and intuitions that I am given.  

But if I ever did make this kind of tragic mistake, I would hope that people would consider my humanity and the bigger picture and not cast immediate judgment on me.

For the record, I’m not above reproach on the judgment problem.  I confess that on the same evening all this happened, I read about the Sommer Wilford, a Birmingham woman who supposedly watched her child burn in a car fire following an accident without telling the police or firemen her son was in the car.  They found his body after the fire was out.

The article clearly implied this she knowingly let him die.  It even mentioned charges of reckless murder.  And possible drug use.  Her wild hair and what looked like a smirk in her mug shot didn’t help her case.  Admittedly, I went in the precise direction that the author of the article intended.  Casting blame on the mom for ruthlessly watching her beautiful son die in the fire.  I even repeated the story to my husband.

But thankfully, I make it a habit not to comment publicly before I’ve done my own research. Out of curiosity, I checked out her young fiance’s Facebook page and found family portraits of a large extended family together with his handsome blonde-haired little boy. 

And this was his last entry.

People look if someone has shit to talk its (deleted his address) where I am I mean you people are clueless she didn't let him die she would never do that that baby was our world and it got taken from ous all of you saying dope was involve I can assure you there was no dope involved no one knows what happened bc guess why no one seen what happened but them and god So before you make all these horrible assumptions stop have some respect and dignity this news thing has taking it way to far and I will personally be putting a stop to it But no matter what is said done etc. nothing can bring my precious baby back he will dearly be missed and please All I am asking for is for everyone to stop until you find out the true story bc I don't even know yet but she was my better half and either of us would have done anything to stop this anything and yes No Matter what I will stand behind her till the end please pray for my family and stop the nonsense

Suddenly, Sommer Wilford wasn’t an object of blame.  She was a human.  With a story.  And a fiancĂ© who believed in her. 

And that’s when I had to recognize that I was judging without all the facts. Perhaps she was under the influence. Maybe the tragedy itself caused her to go into a state of shock that caused her to dissociate from reality.  Or she could be an evil person who wanted her son to die. 

I have no idea what the truth will turn out to be.  And I’m not going to try to figure it out.

Instead, I will pray.  God the Father, wrap your arms around this family and their friends.  Reveal yourself to them during this tragedy.  Let their minds be filled with joy.  Protect them from the comments and people’s opinions.  If drugs or alcohol are involved, I ask that you remove addictions.  Keep the family focused on what is important.  Heal their wounds and surround them with others that will lead them to you.  



  1. Amen indeed! This entry hit me pretty hard. Someone close to me would encourage me to "be a light, not a judge." What he meant by this is that as followers of Christ we should be the one to uplift, encourage, and love rather than to condemn. Casting blame or judgement reflects on the judgmental person's character, not on the character of the one they are judging. Another quote I love is, "when you judge someone, you leave no room to love them." It's so true. Loving people is the way to achieve happiness as an individual, a family, a community, and a society at large. There is enough blame out there. Let's do our part to replace that with compassion and understanding.

  2. Anna, I hope its OK to post this here and apologies ahead of time if not appropriate but I am an amateur inventor and have developed a very inexpensive device that can prevent a parent from forgetting their child in the backseat of a hot car called the Backseat Baby Alarm. It is a stand alone device, it works with any type of vehicle, and installation is basically “peek & stick”. I know probably 80% of parents will just laugh at me or the suggestion they consider installing a safeguard like I have come up with but hope parents who have an infant they take somewhere on a daily basis will at least check it out and consider the merits.

  3. Marcus, I Amen your Amen! Why do so many Christ Followers feel the need to cast blame - other than to separate themselves from the so-called wrong-doers so that we feel better about ourselves? (I'm not immune - so I ask myself the same question.) Love isn't the ONLY part of the answer - but it is a required element.

  4. Joseph, I looked at the video for your backseat baby alarm. It seems like a really simple and GREAT idea. And for the price, I can't imagine anyone I know refusing to invest in anything that might help. (I would compare it to a baby monitor.) My only concern would be that it might give me a false sense of security, allowing me to drop my guard because I'm relying on technology. You didn't do this, but I would be careful not to advertise this as a "solution" or a SUBSTITUTE for paying attention, but a supplement or aid that provides backup when our routines change or our mind wanders. I drive a 15-passenger van with 2 front doors and a double door entry on the passenger side. Would your device work in my van? Also, I noticed the wires. My toddlers would rip them off while playing with them as soon as they could get their hands on them. I couldn't quite tell how it was put together, but that would be my only other concern. Love your ideas.

  5. just in case you have not see Sommer Wilford tested positive for alcohol and other drugs

  6. she is claiming mental problems

  7. the prosecution has pictures from a first respoder that shows u can see the seat and there is NO child car seat, they belive the baby was in the floor board....this girl is more than guilty and that poor baby suffered from it,,,, you know what gets me is our whole government picks and choses the bad parents to prosecute and dont prosecute them all. i have three children and have always worked i do not see how ANY one can leggitamitly just forget there child and ok lets say they do that is neglect anyway u look at it PERIOD the little oriental lady From Homewood Alabama is no more quilty than sommer or the father from GA...your forgetting the most important ppl involved in ur day ,,,,its not like u forgot to take ur trash out