January 30, 2012

Mommy Guilt

When it comes to rearing a child, there is no formula. No one right way. No vending machine that pops out a model child. No amount of books or step-by-step instructions that guarantees parenting success.
I'm glad to come back to this realization after a few months of uncharacteristic uncertainty about how I mother. More accurately, I've spent a few months going crazy in Mommy Guilt Land, struck by an irrational fear that I'm doing it all wrong. While on the outside I have been smiling serenely, in my head, I have been running around like a savage screaming (at myself), "I'm surely ruining my babies for life!"

When I sit down to describe my layover in Mommy Guilt Land to my husband (who dwells only in Rational, Logical Man-Land), I can't do it. There is nothing specific to grasp onto, nothing to illustrate why I feel the way I do, just a heavy gray cloud hanging over everything, constantly releasing a whisper-like mist of failure and fear and doubt. 

He listens as I grasp for formulas and certainty. If I do this specific thing it will guarantee our children to be godly, safe, happy, protected, and successful. 

He listens as I compare myself with other mothers and the choices they've made. Though I try to hide it, he surely hears the insecurity in my words and the sinful interest in what they think of my choices, what they think of me.

He speaks blessing but my heart cannot hear it. Not yet.

In all this, I tell him, I have begged for God to speak to me. Nothing else but God's voice will drive away the uncertainty, that I am certain about. Yet He has been silent. 

At this point, the tears flow freely, realizing that God is silent because I am away from Him. He doesn't dwell in Mommy Guilt Land. He doesn't speak in whisper-like mists of failure and fear and doubt. He doesn't ask me to mother according to lists or formulas. I am dwelling in opposition to Him, trying, as usual, to figure things out on my own.

In this realization, He finally speaks. By My Spirit, child, not by works. Depend on me day-by-day (sometimes minute-by-minute) and I will lead you as you lead them. Walk with Me and I will direct your paths. I will show you the way to go.

In this truth, there is also His grace. I have temporarily abandoned Him in pursuit of self-satisfaction and the approval of others, yet He receives me back. The mist of failure and fear and doubt has stopped.

It is raining truth and grace.

The following verses were instrumental in my exit from Mommy Guilt Land. I hope they are helpful to you as well.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...., full of grace and truth. John 1:14

For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17

{God speaks. We recognize His voice because it is one of grace and truth. He speaks specifically and in a way that leads to hope and freedom.}

Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
Bind them around your neck,
Write them on the tablet of your heart,
And so find favor and high esteem 
In the sight of God and man.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:3-6