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"Motherhood: the Guilt that Keeps on Giving"

>> 8.16.2011

As Julie Anne Barnhill would say, “Motherhood: [it’s the] guiltthat keeps on giving.” I honestly could never comprehend this phrase {mommy guilt} so when I had my second child and was attending my first Hearts At Home event, I thought, “Well, what on earth could I have guilt over in motherhood?” HA!  I just hadn’t been a mommy long enough to have acquired anything much of which to be guilty for -- yet.  All I needed was a little time.

And “time” I’ve now had.  I am just now beginning to understand this phrase “mommy guilt."  I’d say I now “completely” understand it, but I know there are moments in life yet to come that I have no ability to comprehend right now that will continue to shed light onto this phrase as I continue my journey of motherhood.  I know because I listen to the stories of those who have tread the path before me and who share with me their own stories of “mommy guilt”… some of those stories bear so much heart ache and pain.  Those hurts may have appeared to have healed only to be torn open again by a word, a thought, a song, a smell, a sight…and they are laid bare again. 

Julie Anne Barnhill wrote an entire book devoted to this idea, my title bore the title of her book:  Motherhood: the Guilt that Keeps on Giving.  Here is part of her first chapter:

“I consider guilt…to be a vast, take-your-breath-away, geographical landscape that will sit squarely in my backyard until the day I die…That’s why I make no promises of “conquer your guilt”…within the pages of this book.  I am so over thinking I can do the impossible – and then feeling even guiltier when I cannot. 

Yes, guilt will always be part of the mothering landscape. 

But pay attention, because this is important: It doesn’t have to dominate your landscape.  It doesn’t have to ruin your life…or rob you of peace of mind.  More important, it doesn’t have to erode your confidence and cripple your effectiveness as a mother and human being.

Instead of hunkering down under Guiltmore’s shadow, you can learn to scale her slopes and move on to where you were really meant to live—on the sunny plains of grace…” (21-22;189,190)

My own mommy guilt was added to today as I left the curling iron on to fix my hair later, only to have it dropped and picked up by my youngest.  After an hour of straight crying {from the babe} and trying to fix it with constant cool water, we ended up in the walk-in clinic nearby having a bandaged applied and having the doctor documenting that they had gone over the safety precautions with me.  Of course, I already knew what I had done was wrong…and had left my little one vulnerable to the possibility of pain.  And now we both suffer the consequences.  I am thankful his little hand will heal and there most likely will be no scars and he will be no worse off for it—only it will be added to the small {but growing} list of regrets that amount to my own personal “mommy guilt” mountain – “Mt. Guiltmore,” as Julie B. calls it. 

Satan would love to leave us there.  Using that guilt to remind us of how “bad” we are; how “horrible” we are; and surely God could not love us or use us anymore because of that! Right?  While there are no spiritual stigmas that I have attached to this particular event, Satan does use other events in our lives that do cause us great emotional and spiritual pain to be his inflicting arrows that he throws at us often. 

BUT, As Christ-followers, we have the Holy Spirit living inside of us—Christ called him our “Comforter” that he was sending until we would one day be with Him again in heaven. {Why else would He have sent a “Comforter” if not that we would need to be comforted?}

Christ has sent us a comforter AND Christ himself came to die for just those situations that cause us all that guilt.  Galatians 5:1 says, “it is for freedom that I have set you free” {KPB—Kristen’s Paraphrase Bible}—This is the truth we need to cling to, and sometimes I really mean cling to minute by minute, when we feel all that “mommy guilt” creeping up on us.  When it threatens to make us shy away from doing the very things in life Christ has called us to do (live in community with one another, serve one another, love one another, etc.), then we need to cling to the Hope we have in Christ and allow Him to enter those painful places and give us healing and therefore we will be able to reflect His kingdom to others around us {our main created purpose}.

What “mommy guilt” are you struggling with today?  Place it at the foot of the Cross where Christ can place it upon Himself, for it does not belong to us once we belong to HIM.

More importantly, what did you do RIGHT today (or yesterday or the day before)?  Me?  I have been getting up before the kids {most days} and have been in His Word more…that is definitely RIGHT, always.


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