I heard Gwenyth Paltrow ask it once, and I shook my head in agreement,
“What is it about all this guilt that comes with motherhood?”
Indeed Gwenyth, one does come with the other. No matter one’s wealth or status or age, we moms know the pang of guilt.
Oh sure, I feel guilt over a plethora of parenting mistakes, like hollering at my kids and forgetting important school events. And for these smaller things, I’m learning to repent and ask for forgiveness while not buying into false guilt. But then there are the bigger life choices and circumstances that wash a tidal wave of guilt right over me, like the three years our children went to three different schools.
For the first year, our sons attended a private school. While it had many things going for it, it clearly wasn’t the best choice for our boys. The second year, I homeschooled. I tried to do it well and to love it, but I failed on both counts. My precious relationships with my boys suffered. So after praying long and hard, my husband and I felt God decidedly urging us to give the public school a go. And the year went swimmingly until the end of the year when a bullying situation hit one of my boys so fast and furiously, the year ended on the lowest of the lows. And while my son now thrives in a fantastic school, I can still get caught up in the guilt, crying over regrettable choices and all the coulda, shoulda, woulda’s.
So this leads me to ask: When our own choices and life circumstances throw our children into harsh difficulties, how do we move past the guilt that comes with the territory?
We know to apologize. We tell the Lord and our children we’re sorry. Then we take it one step further and ask our children to forgive us. Because as Andy Andrews says, asking for forgiveness can heal virtually any wound.
And then there is something else we must do, and I learned this from the apostle Paul.
If there is one rock star of Scripture who had a reason to feel guilty, it’s Paul. Before Paul became a Christian, he was bent on destroying God’s children: the church. And he succeeded in persecuting and killing many Christians. But after he met Christ, he penned this to the church in Philippi:
I’m not saying I have it all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. Philippians 3:12-14, The Message (emphasis mine)
While Paul referred to himself as the worst of sinners, he still had a healthy perspective about his identity in Christ. And why? Because he did not wallow in his sins or let guilt swallow him. Instead, Paul reached out for Christ. He moved outward, not inward. He knew the law of the Spirit of life set him free from condemnation, sin, and death. So he repented, asked for forgiveness, and moved on with his eye towards the goal: more Jesus.
Paul was not some super spiritual special case. The same freedom he lived is available to us, too. Let’s own our mistakes and ask for forgiveness. Let’s move outward, not inward. And then, like Paul, let’s be off and running, quick to receive God’s grace so guilt doesn’t have a moment to settle in. Let’s make room for the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit to fill every square inch of our heart and soul so that the only things we wallow in is His light and love.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2
Do you struggle with mama guilt? What are some ways you combat it so you wallow in Truth not tears?
Kristen Strong, Chasing Blue Skies