Hey moms, though I’m under no illusions that one blog post is going to change the way you have operated since time immemorial, I have a message for you:
The guilt has to stop.
You know what I’m talking about. The guilt that you’re not doing enough. The fear that you’re messing your kids up. The haunting feeling that you’re not good enough. The pit that drops the bottom out of your stomach when you look at her kids, her kitchen, her clothes, her kids’ clothes, her kids’ hair, her kids’ lunches, her picture-perfect dates with her picture-perfect husband, her hair, her waistline, her seemingly effortless existence.
The thoughts that keep you awake at night, tossing and turning, twisting the sheets into a tangled mess. The voice that says you’ll never do enough. The critic who takes that beautiful family moment – when everything else seemed to fade away and you felt like for just a second, you had done something well – and deflates it: yeah, but you could have made part this just a little better …
The constant hammering that doesn’t let you enjoy your kids, your family, your husband. The fear that you didn’t check the labels correctly, the food’s not as nutritious as it could be, the one time you forgot sunscreen will scar them – literally – for life.
You didn’t play with your kids enough today, you haven’t taught them enough Bible verses, you can’t afford to take them to Disney World, their table manners are atrocious, your boys have potty mouths, your girls are catty, you don’t remember the last time you sat down uninterrupted with a Bible, you’re fat, you’re grumpy, and you feel bad because it would feel so good to get away from it all.
Guess what? Your guilt is there for a reason. It whispers truth: what you do will never be enough. All your striving, all your planning, all your research, all your designs and schemes and work: It’s. Not. Enough. There will always – always – be someone better, someone more, someone to compare yourself to and be found wanting.
That’s depressing, but it’s true. You can’t do it all. You’re not enough.
Only one Person in history has ever been enough.
See, this is where the hope comes in. Trust that one Person. Believe that his enough covers your not-nearly-enough. Give your real guilt for your real failures to him. He will cover it with his perfection. He will wipe it away. It will be gone. Grace will cleanse you.
And your self-inflicted guilt that surfaces day after day after day? It’s not from God. He’s not condemning you. And if God is for you, well, don’t be against yourself. Instead, talk to yourself (HT: Martin Lloyd-Jones). Remind yourself: there’s no condemnation. Preach this to yourself (yes, women preachers are great). Rest in his grace. Direct your effort not towards beating yourself up, but to believing that the unbelievable is true and so you can go be a great mom to the glory of God.
You can plan terrific outings for your kids, you can dress them fashionably, you can post that fun picture on Facebook, you can teach them all the Bible verses. Those things are great and wonderful and you should do them. You are called to pour effort into living with passion and purpose the way God wants you to live.
Just don’t worry endlessly when someone else does more, does better, does it all. Forgiveness covers your actual failures and your real guilt. For your imagined failures and your self-inflicted guilt, remember:
God gave your kids the exact mother they need. They don’t need any other mom, no matter how amazing that mom seems. They need you. Be there for them – without the guilt.