Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Guilt-Free Motherhood: GET OFF THE THRONE

I love my children.  I know I am greatly blessed to have 3 healthy, growing children.  I love being a mom.  I know there are so many people in this world who desperately want to be mothers but can't.  And I love this season of life.  I know I will miss these years.

Nonetheless, I find motherhood to be my greatest challenge.  Hands down the most exhausting, perplexing, and intimidating journey I've ever walked.

And one of the toughest realities for me as a mom is the continuous guilt I feel.

Since the day I brought Grayden, my oldest, home from the hospital I don't think there have been many nights where I didn't lay in bed at night burdened by some feeling of guilt.

In those beginning years, I felt guilty about being tired all the time.  
I felt guilty about missing my job.  
I felt guilty about my lack of time for my friends.  
I felt guilty about neglecting my husband.  
I felt guilty about wishing someone else would hold my crying baby for a change.  
I felt guilty about feeling lonely. 
I felt guilty about my discontented heart for motherhood when for nearly two years I had pleaded with the Lord for a child. 

And as the years have passed and I've been blessed with two more children, the guilt I feel surrounding motherhood has only increased.

Now-a-days, I feel guilty about my lack of energy and my inability to exhibit a free spirit about anything. 
I feel guilty about not missing my job. 
I feel guilty about wishing my kids would stop talking, just for a few quiet minutes.  
I feel guilty when I exercise.  
I feel guilty when I don't exercise.  
I feel guilty when my house is a mess.  
I feel guilty when I clean my house instead of spending time with my kids.  
I feel guilty when I can't wait for my kids to go to bed.  
I feel guilty when I spend purposeful time with one of them and neglect the other two.  
I feel guilty when I can't sit down and play with them because I'm doing dishes, laundry, paying bills, mowing the lawn, or all the other little jobs necessary to keep this household running. 
I feel guilty when I plan and write a Bible Study for my women's group instead of having "school time" with them. 
I feel guilty when they have to remind me that I said I would do something with them. 
I feel guilty when I look nothing like Christ. 
I feel guilty when I lose my temper with them because they didn't get the memo about my schedule or my to-do's. 
I feel guilty when I take a little "me" time. 
I feel guilty when my husband hugs me after a long day of work and I am only thinking about finishing and getting dinner on the table. 
I feel guilty when I forget to check Allie's diaper 10 minutes after lunch and a fresh diaper rash appears as a result. 
I feel guilty when at the end of a day I look back and realize I spent very little purposeful time with my kids. 
I feel guilty when I grumble at all the mundane tasks of motherhood. 
And I feel guilty for feeling guilty.

So there you have it.  A glimpse into my guilt-stricken mommy mind. 

For some of you reading this you may not understand this guilt battle in motherhood.  If this is true for you, what freedom you possess!

But I'm certain that for most of you reading who are moms, you understand this battle.  Perhaps yours isn't exactly like mine.  Your guilt might not be as consuming.  Your guilt may look different altogether due to your own unique life circumstances.  Yet like me, in motherhood you still feel burdened by guilt. 

Quite recently I've become fed up with feeling guilty.  To be burdened by guilt more often than not isn't living.  It's complete bondage.  It's draining.  It's exhausting.  And truthfully for me, it's so incredibly discouraging.

The other day I was washing dinner dishes and I just began to plead with the Lord to teach me what I need to do, what I need to change, what I need to become, and what I need to understand in order to find freedom from such guilt in motherhood.  

As I searched His Word for answers I found some in the words of Psalm 103.  Read its words in light of this battle with guilt. 

**The word bless can also be translated praise

1-2 O my soul, bless God.    
From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
    don’t forget a single blessing!

3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
    He heals your diseases—every one.
    He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
    He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
    He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
    He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.

6-18 God makes everything come out right;
    he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
    opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
    not easily angered, he’s rich in love.

He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
    nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
    nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
    so strong is his love to those who fear him.

And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
    God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
    keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
    like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
    leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
    eternally present to all who fear him,

Making everything right for them and their children
    as they follow his Covenant ways
    and remember to do whatever he said.

19-22 God has set his throne in heaven;
    he rules over us all. He’s the King!
So bless God, you angels,
    ready and able to fly at his bidding,
    quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless God, all you armies of angels,
    alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are
    everything and everyone made by God.
And you, O my soul, bless God!

So here's what I heard,

What do I need to do?  
Bless the Lord. Fear and obey Him.

What do I need to change?
Spend my days blessing the Lord instead of myself.  My Lord is King over all.  My Lord is in control of all things.

What do I need to become?
A soul who blesses the Lord with all my inmost being and who never forgets his forgiving, redeeming, crowning, and renewing blessings.

What do I need to understand?
From everlasting to everlasting as I strive to fear and obey Him in motherhood, His guilt-free love is with me.  In all things motherhood, He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.  And He will in fact satisfy my desire to be a good mother with His good things and He will make all things right.

I've determined that so much of the guilt I feel in motherhood is the direct result of forgetting that God is God and I am not.  Instead of blessing the Lord in motherhood, I'm blessing myself.  You see when it comes to motherhood I'm still sitting on the throne.  I'm still in control.  I'm still calling the shots.  I'm still as good of a mom as I can will and make myself to be.  And this seems fine until my control-freak and goal oriented self can't give myself a "praise Renee sticker" for doing A+ mom work on a given day.  When something feels out of my control or when I fall short of meeting a goal, then my mind flashes FAILURE across my heart in big, bold letters.  And this failure solidifies my greatest fear in motherhood..I can't do this.  And then the guilt eats away at me.

Psalm 103 is a kick in the pants reminder to me to get off the throne and start giving the Lord the blessing due His name.  For when my soul yearns to bless Him rather than myself the guilt withers away.  I am drawn to forget not His blessings, of which not a one burdens me with guilt.  Putting Him on the throne sets me free, and if "the Son sets me free, I am free indeed" (John 8:36).  And "it is for freedom that Christ has set me free" no longer to be "subject to the yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1).

Moms, living in bondage to guilt isn't living the life of freedom we have been given in Christ.  So let's get off the throne, let's become souls who give blessing where blessing is due, and let's allow God to forgive us, redeem us, crown us, satisfy us, and renew us with a love that covers our guilt with an abundance of grace.

And let's pray for our children in this regard.  Let's pray they have the wisdom to get off the throne and become boys and girls and eventually men and women who bless the Lord, who don't forget His blessings, who obey and fear Him, and who live under the grace of Christ walking free from guilt and shame.

Help me to break free of this bondage of guilt in motherhood.  As I strive to fear and obey you in motherhood, would you make everything right.  As I get off the throne and put You back on it, may You rule over and control all.  May Your sheer mercy and grace forgive, heal, crown, renew, and redeem me as I parent my three children.  Would you wrap me in Your goodness and may I never forget Your blessings.  May my inner most soul bless You in all things, leaving no room for the heavy burden of self-inflicted guilt.

And I pray this for my children as well Lord.  May they get off the throne and allow You, the King, to take Your rightful place.  May they learn to bless Your name and to never forget Your blessings.  I pray that as they fear and obey You, Your love would consume them and change them from the inside out.  May their inner most soul bless You in all things, leaving no room for the heavy burden of self-inflicted guilt.

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