I had been married for a year and a month. I had spent the weekend away from my husband, visiting family. My cycle was late, but I penned it to stress. My emotions were everywhere. At some point, my thoughts convinced me I might be pregnant. I drove to the pharmacy to purchase a pregnancy test. I decided to follow the instructions (I guess, this is something you only do when you take your first test), and waited until morning to take the test. All night I couldn’t sleep, and could tell I just wasn’t feeling like myself. Around 5:30 a.m. I decided, “It’s now or never!” Three minutes later, my life changed forever. Unsure how to organize my emotions, and calm my beating heart beat, I walked into my good friend Terri’s room, and woke her up. I’ll never forget siting on her bed, and telling her the result of the test. At first she laughed, as she found humor in this new life-altering information. After her snickering came to a halt, her face turned serious. I’m not sure what changed her demeanor, whether her memories took her back into history, where they placed a chubby baby girl in her arms, or she realized she wasn’t being sensitive. She looked at me and said, “Welcome to a life of feeling guilty!” I’m sure she said many positive and encouraging comments in our 30 minute conversation. However, all I remember is these six words, “Welcome to a life of feeling guilty!” This thought scared me to the core, I couldn’t fully comprehend the meaning of welcome to a life of feeling guilty. As our conversation ended she said, “You better go call your husband.”
These words ring true after 12 years of marriage, as I raise my almost 11 year old tween, and four amazing children later. My friend was absolutely correct in her words, in her attempt to aid me into the path of motherhood.
Everyday as a mother, I experience guilt. Guilt in different extremes, for different reasons, and even when I know I’m doing the right thing. I’ll take the risk of being real, in the hope some of you mothers feel guilt in similar situations. I feel guilt for not feeding my children enough fruits and vegetables, guilt for sending them to a public school, for not having the right personality to home school, for saying “no” when my children want a toy from Target, and for making my picky eater, eat the meal I prepared. Often times I “know” what I’m doing is for the best, but I still feel guilty. I feel guilty when my children get their well check shots, when I take them back to their beds, when they are begging to sleep in mommy and daddy’s room, and especially when I know I need to discipline them.
What beguiles me is why I feel this constant guilt?
Often I feel guilt, when I should feel guilt. I should feel guilt when I have sinned against my children, and have not obeyed God’s word, in my mothering interactions. As a Christian mother, this comes in the form of conviction. Often it’s difficult to discern Godly conviction and plain old rotten guilt.
In my eleven years as a mom, I have asked myself many times, “How do I know if this is Ungodly guilt of Godly conviction?’
“Corinthians 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
I have realized when God is convicting my heart, I have a relentless need for repentance. As God digs deep into my soul, I realize peace will only come when I have dealt with my sin.
As I attempt to make peace with God and my children I follow these four steps.
Four Steps to Mending My Mothering Sin, “Making Things Right With God and My Children”
(These steps can be used when dealing with all sin, but for today’s purposes we are focusing on our children.)
1. Admit my sin to God.
Ask Him to help me in this tough job of motherhood. Ask Him to help me to be a Godly mother. Depending on the gravity of the situation this may be a quick, “Wow, I messed that up! Lord, can you help me with this in the future.” , or “God please forgive me, what was I thinking, how can I make things right with you, and with my kids. Please forgive me and help me to be a better mother.!”
2. Ask God to forgive my sin toward Him and my children.
A year ago, I was a downright awful mother. Whether it was a result of my hormones, or just a bad day, I don’t know. I went to bed, and God immediately began working on my heart. I bawled over my sin, as I recalled scolding them that evening. Their poor little eyes frozen in my heart, simply broke my heart. My Godly sorrow brought repentance.
3. Ask your children to forgive you.
I am the mother of “I’m sorry!” I must apologize often. Last week, I snapped at my four year old for peeing in my bed, and he ran off in tears. I hugged him and told him I was sorry, and that mommy was frustrated because I had to change my clean sheets. The same evening he was doing another childlike antic, and once again I snapped at him. He ran to his room, in full blown sobs. I mean this was serious. He wouldn’t even come down for ice cream. I sat him up on my lap, and literally hugged and lavished apologies all over, until his crying stopped. I told him, “Mommy had no right to snap at you, and I love you so much! Can you forgive me? I don’t think mommy deserves an ice cream because I was naughty, what do you think?” My little guy extended grace to me, he hugged me back and walking me into the kitchen to retrieve our ice cream. Our little people are quite forgiving, we must simply ask for their forgiveness. When we admit our sin to our children, and seek their forgiveness, we reveal the depth of God’s love, forgiveness and grace. As a result, we reveal the depth of our love for them.
4. Seek to be a better mother everyday, and learn from our mistakes.
This job of a motherhood is not easy. We need God, we need wisdom, and we need creativity. I realize first hand how hard it is to find time to read God’s word, pray, and read parenting books. However, if we are to become Godly mother’s we “MUST” know God’s heart. We need all the wisdom, knowledge, and parenting tips we can get our hands on.
Here is a list of sources which enrich my walk through motherhood.
1. Prayer. Constant prayer… Never ending prayer. We can pray… all the time. We can pray while folding clothes, nursing babies, playing outside, driving to appointments, doing the dishes, cooking dinner, we can pray almost anytime.
2. The Bible . If we want to have the heart of God as we rear our children, we must read and study His word.
3. Parenting books. The shelves in the Christian section are full of amazingly helpful books, written by parents having experienced the same experiences.
A few of my favorite are… The Power of a Positive Mom, written by Karol Ladd… The Five Love Languages of Children, written by Chapman and Campbell, Bringing up Boys, written by James Dobson… Creative Correction, written by Whelchel… One of my favorite author’s is Dannah Gresh, you can’t go wrong with any of her books.
4. Church, Bible Studies, Mom groups, Sunday School, Christian play groups.
Christian fellowship is essential, as we attempt to raise our children in God’s word. Not to mention… It’s a blast to be a part of good Christian communities.
5. Focus On The Family, James Dobson.
Here is the link to my favorite website. I have a daily podcast app on my iPhone and iPad. You can choose from a large array of topics. God has used these podcast’s to directly speak to my heart, and I have attained insurmountable wisdom through these daily broadcasts.
I would love to hear from you? How have you discerned rotten ugly guilt over Godly conviction? What are other helpful Christian parenting sources you encountered along your path of parenthood?