I know today's post is late - I feel so guilty. Again, I've spent the time putting up tomatoes, picking blackberries, and hanging out laundry instead of writing on my blog. Why can't I do everything I want to do, everything I think I should be able to do, all in a twenty-four hour day?
Guilt is a shadow that clings close to mothers. We can never do enough, love enough, sacrifice enough. After a day of picking up toys, making snacks, and rocking sleepyheads, we look back in exhaustion and wonder if we've accomplished anything of eternal value with our time. We are frustrated by and feel guilty for what we have not accomplished. Then, we hit the Reset button and do the same seemingly meaningless, never-ending routine again the next day and the next.
Several years ago, I kept the 2-year-old child of a young mother who worked full-time while her husband completed his college education. This mom confided in me that she felt very guilty for not being at home with her child, for not being a "good" mother. "Listen," I said, "You are helping your family during this season by providing financial support. In another year, your husband will be finished with school and will have a full-time job, and then you can be at home with your child. Don't feel guilty for not being able to do it all right now. Besides, if you quit work today, you'd feel guilty tomorrow for not being able to help out financially." Seems like whatever we do, where ever we find ourselves, the shadow of guilt threatens to eclipse the sun. If we do one thing right, we do another thing wrong or not at all. It is so hard to find any peace with so much guilt looming on the horizon!
Young mother, do you ever feel guilty for not investing more of yourself in the world outside your home? For not using your gifts and talents to serve God's kingdom "out there"? For not taking on extra responsibilities at church or at the local school? For not volunteering for committees and community service projects? For not earning a second income to help support your family? For not letting your kids participate in every extra-curricular activity on their wish lists? For being tired and having a fried brain at the end of every day?
I have felt guilty for All of the Above, and have learned over the years that so much of the guilt that weighs me down is just plain wrong. It is what Jani Ortlund calls "wasted" guilt. She expresses so well the frustration and guilt which often accompany this calling of motherhood - and she offers encouragement and clear insight to disarm inappropriate guilt. Check out the godly counsel of a wise, not-so-much-older woman in her article For the Young Mother: Ministry, Guilt, and Seasons of Life (click here). I hope her words encourage you as much as they did me!
4 weeks ago