Mom guilt is a modern epidemic. While we agree that it is awful, most of us are so overwhelmed by it we don’t know how to shake it off. In fact, many of us have walked with it for so long, it’s become a companion, almost a badge of honor.
Yet, it is anything but a friend. It saps our emotional energy, increases our anxiety and insecurity, and constructs real barriers to living abundant, joyful lives. We are so accustomed to this kind of living, however, that we hardly question it.
We have collectively begun to assume that mom guilt is ok. We’ve forgotten we can live without it.
I might have lived comfortably with my own mom guilt, too, if it wasn’t for being a working mom. Four years ago, with two (now three) very young children, I began to work part-time from home. The mom guilt became so strong that I had to figure out how to deal with it.
I’ve learned to ask two questions when I start experiencing guilt--the answers tell me a lot about the state of my heart, and they acts like bright lights shining into dark corners, forcing half-truths and ridiculous lies to disappear.
1. Have I actually wronged or offended anyone?
Here is a personal example of mom guilt at work in my life: for me, it often pops up when somebody on Instagram posts an image of the paleo, grass-fed, ultra organic meal they just fed their child.
Now look, guilt might be legit if I hadn’t fed my children in the last 24 hours. In that case, it might be legitimate to say I have wronged my children.
But I did feed my kids. I haven’t harmed or offended my children by feeding them Sonic corndogs instead of quinoa, and if I’m confused on that issue, I’ve probably lost some of my perspective and need to get off the internet!
2. Do I feel honest conviction about this, or do I just feel shame?
Conviction is knowing your action needs to change; shame is believing you are a person unworthy of doing better.
Conviction sounds like, “I feel so bad about my action!” It apologizes, changes its behavior, and trusts God with the rest.
Shame sounds like, “I am such a horrible person. Of course I screamed at my kids, I’m a bad mom. I’m such an awful person.” It’s ugly, and it’s hopeless. It’s also a lie, and it’s from hell, and that’s where you can tell it to go.
If, after an honest assessment, you need to make a change in your life or behavior, great! You can do so with a clear conscience, knowing that your identity has nothing to do with how you perform or how “good” you are!
When I’ve asked my two questions, and realized that the voice I’m hearing is the voice of shame, I’ve learned to address the heart issue. I memorized Psalm 139:13-16 years ago, and it’s been my go-to script to supplant the false narrative of guilt and shame with the true narrative of my worth to God.
The scripture reminds me:
1. I was designed with intent
2. I was created with beauty and purpose--if I haven’t found beauty in purpose in my frame yet, I need to look harder
3. My form brings praise to my Creator
4. I have been known intimately since before I was born
5. I am valued by God
6. My life has a plan and a purpose
A life outside mom guilt is possible.
It does not have to be the friend that won’t move out. Hope and freedom from guilt are for you. I have experienced the stability, security, and peace on the other side--and I know you can experience it, too!
Want freedom from guilt so you can focus on what matters? Click here to learn more about Equipped.
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