April 15, 2013

Mommy Guilt

This week I have to joy of introducing my friend Charlotte.  Charlotte, and her family were part of my church for several years (her husband lead our small group for awhile) but about a year ago they moved to another state.  I'm thankful that we can still keep in touch and love one another through prayer, email, and the occasional phone call.

Hi!  My name is Charlotte, and I am mommy to two precious little girls.  My oldest is Cara (3).  She is a wonderful little ball of energy.  I am entertained daily by her incredible imagination.  She is challenging and strong willed, but she is a blast!  My youngest is Anna (8 months).  There is a word that I think describes her very well: sweet.  She is such a calm, happy little girl. I love watching her discover the world around her.  These two ladies are a source of indescribable joy for me. 

 I LOVE being a mommy.  Now, this is not to say there are not days where I want to cry and pull my hair out, but I see being a mommy to these two little ladies as a gift and a calling.  And aside from being a helpmate to my hubby, I see being a mom as my primary ministry.  I have two precious charges in my care who do not know Jesus.  It is my desperate plea daily that God would awaken their souls to newness of life.  I pray they would love Jesus with their whole beings.  So my goal is to point their hearts to our Rescuer, our Savior, our Lord.  But as any mom can tell you, there are a million things that can happen in any given day to distract us from this high goal.  And personally, I have found that mommy guilt is one of the biggest traps I so easily fall into.

We moms are not perfect.  We mess up a million times a day.  We snap at our kids. We can be lazy, preoccupied, ungrateful, unmerciful, critical . . . . You can fill in the blank.  Mothers are sinners.  We will not be perfect.  But that is where scriptures such as Philippians 1:6 come in to play: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” And Romans 8:1: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  For the Christian mom, the mom who places her full hope in Jesus Christ, we are no longer dead in our sins.  Christ has breathed new life into our hearts.  We are his.  We are clothed in HIS righteousness.  And because we are His, He WILL continually be rooting out sin in our lives.  But moms, this is a GOOD thing.  Very good.  He is stripping away what causes death and cultivating what brings forth life.  He is as a Father with his children, disciplining us for our good and His glory.  But sometimes we are very quick to wallow in our sin.  We see the sin, we grieve over it, and we sit there, powerless, in it.  All we can see is how we messed up.  It paralyzes us.  We are overrun by guilt.  Moms, this should not be!!!  When God the Father looks at us He does not see our sin any longer.  He sees His Son, the perfect Lamb---the ONLY acceptable sacrifice.  Moms, there is therefore now NO condemnation for us in Jesus!  God is continuing a GOOD work in us!  That is freedom, ladies, and we should walk in it!  When we turn from our sins and walk in the power of the Holy Spirit to be the mothers God has called us to be, our children will see and be pointed to the sufficiency of the cross.  This has impact for eternity.  If they see their moms just sitting in guilt, this will also have an impact on them.  If we live as if we are condemned, we are saying our sins are too big for our God.  We certainly don’t want to communicate that to our children!

Then there is another area of guilt: when we feel guilty for things we have no business feeling guilty for.  This can happen when we compare ourselves to other moms.  We look at what that mom over there is doing with her kids and feel we need to be doing the same thing.  Dangerous ground to be treading, mommies!  You see, God has created each of us differently with different gifts and abilities.  You are not called to be doing what that mom over there is doing.  You are called to use the gifts God has given you to raise your kids to know and fear God.  That doesn’t mean we don’t learn from other moms.  Titus speaks of older women training younger women.  We NEED other moms to encourage us, give advice, cheer us on.  I have learned so much from other mothers.  Indeed, I would not have much of a clue about godly parenting if not for the example of other women in my life.  But we are not to try to be these other moms. 

But in addition to trying to be like other moms, I also have my own ideals.  I can feel like a pole-vaulter.  I am looking at the bar high up in the air.  I want to not just clear it but to soar ever so gracefully over it.  So I get ready, I race towards that high bar, I plunge my pole into the ground, my body soars into the air, I can see that bar . . . but I miss—I don’t even get close.  My body plummets back down to the ground, and I land flat on my back.  I stare, looking back up at that high bar that seems a million miles away, and despair washes over me.  I cannot reach that high bar no matter how hard I try. So I sit in my guilt.  I feel guilty for not reaching all these lofty goals I set for myself.  I feel guilty for not reaching my version of a perfect momma.  But, I am learning that my version of a perfect momma and God’s version of a perfect momma are rarely the same. 

I was talking to a dear (and very wise) friend the other day.  I was sharing with her how I had been struggling so much with guilt.  And she shared with me some very wise counsel.  So friends, if you are like me and struggle with guilt, read carefully.  Joy and guilt cannot coexist.  If I am so busy feeling guilty about everything, my girls are not going to have a joy-filled momma.  This is HUGE, ladies.  We all see how our children pick up on our attitudes.  If we are living under the weight of guilt, it is like we are carrying around a boulder on our backs.  We are so busy trying to live under the weight of this rock that very little of our energy is focused on being a mommy that shows our children the beauty of the Gospel.  In Matthew 11:30, Jesus says that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.  We are not meant to be carrying a boulder.  Instead, we are to be focused on the truths and promises of His Word, and we are to be walking in these promises. We are to be meditating on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith who gives us everything we need for life and godliness.  Ladies, we are clothed in Jesus.  When God looks at us, He sees the shed blood of His Son covering us.  Jesus’s blood is strong enough to cover all our failures, and He is powerful enough to transform us into the moms He calls us to be.  It is not about us, girls.  It is about Jesus.  And that brings JOY.  And when we are living in this joy, our children will see.  They will see what the Gospel is truly all about—sinners made perfect through Jesus’s atoning blood.  And that, my friends, is the best news we will ever hear.  That is what brings joy indescribable.  And that is what we hope for our children.  To know Jesus and to walk in this joy.  So, sweet sisters, don’t sit in guilt.  Live a life that adores, treasures, and finds its rest in Jesus.  This is what we want our kids to see and know.  This is what will have an impact for eternity.


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