#MomGuilt

From the moment I saw the hash tag “mom guilt”, it bugged me. Another real, deep life issue had just been turned into a clever marketing scheme…and I didn’t like it! I still don’t like it. Businesses are doing it more and more often and it’s very clever indeed! Advertisements are playing on our emotions and they stay in our memories…but in the end they do absolutely nothing to address or help the deep ache inside that mothers really feel every single day: Guilt for doing their absolute best!

Telling a mom, “Just don’t feel guilty about it, you’ve done your best!” does absolutely nothing to heal the self-condemnation many woman feel day after day after day. Turning it into a light-hearted joke may temporarily ease the pain but in the end, mom-guilt is very, incredibly real and it comes from deep within causing restless nights and illegitimate worries. It causes outbursts from insecurities of our intentions and abilities. It brings many into depression. It causes some to give up and check out emotionally on their children.

Where we started motherhood gazing with wonder into the beautiful faces of our newborns, motherhood slowly turns into an endless checklist of chores, appointments, and things to remember.

It wasn’t meant to be this way. But it is.

There was such hope for SO MUCH MORE!! But that hope just seems to fade a bit more everyday, until we check ourselves out of the mothering day as soon as our little ones are in bed, exhausted from the pressure and stress we were never meant to feel in the first place.

Real Mom-guilt story: When I was 6 months pregnant with my third child, I went on a marriage retreat with my husband. It was winter and there was a hot tub at the event. Now, being very self-conscious about my body at that point in my life and during that stage of pregnancy, I really did not want to go in. First of all, because I knew I really shouldn’t for the baby’s sake but also because I was too embarrassed! It so happened that a nurse was along on the trip and she casually mentioned that as long as I was comfortable and stayed in a short time, it was totally ok. So one evening, I went out to the hot tub with my husband when no one else was around. It was really cold, so my plan of just putting in my feet a few minutes quickly changed to me plopping myself down fully emerged in the very hot water. After ten minutes, I started to feel uncomfortable so I stood to get out, but as I stood a huge group of people came out to join us and I awkwardly plopped back down because I was totally self-conscious in my swimsuit. I sat there for another painful twenty minutes until I realized I was feeling very sick and got out anyways. The next few days I was physically sick as a result of this and I kicked myself for it…for caring so much about my appearance that I would put my own health and my baby’s health in jeopardy…but that wasn’t the worst part of it: I felt like the dumbest, most selfish mother on the planet and I worried for the next three months constantly that I had done something that would cause permanent damage to my baby.

You know what’s the craziest part of this all? My son is now eight years old and that memory still haunts me. Because my boy has trouble making friends, he has difficulty controlling his emotions, he tiptoes when he walks and deep down, I blame MYSELF. Every. Single. Day. Is there something wrong with him? Are the issues in his life a result of that one poor choice? Probably not! But I don’t know for sure…I never will. And it haunts me. And this is just one example of the hundreds of ways we Mothers feel guilt!

When I hear my children yelling at each other… it must be my fault for once in a while yelling at them.

When I see my children use bad table manners…it’s probably my fault because I haven’t trained them properly.

When they get sick…I should’ve not let them go outside without their jacket!

If they say something awkward…my fault, I’m homeschooling, they probably don’t get out enough.

If they’re all over tired, fighting and throwing tantrums…my fault, we’re probably too busy and not at home enough.

When we leave them at childcare or crying with a sitter…I am a failure, I can’t even be there for them.

If my boy pees his pants and I forgot extra clothes…I’m such a horrible mom.

It goes on and on and on and ON!

I have personally talked with mothers of kids who have disabilities who blame THEMSELVES!! It’s not their fault! It’s obviously not! But still the nagging, taunting dark questions plague their minds: Maybe I have bad genes, I shouldn’t have had children…Maybe I ate something wrong…Maybe the immunizations did it. Maybe I wasn’t there for them enough…maybe….

REALLY?!?

As if our children were just these flawless, perfect little angels sent straight from heaven, with only the purest of nature, and holiest of thoughts and somehow we RUINED them.

But this is REAL, and it’s deep. And it’s a lie that needs to be addressed head on! I’m sorry to say that there’s no quick solution to this. I can’t just go and tell all the mom’s in the world, “Oh it’s not your fault” and end all the guilt…because sometimes it IS our faults. And as grown ups we need to be responsible and admit when it is. Yet as mothers we can’t separate our failures from what’s actually just our children’s human nature.

But here’s the best steps I could come up with to help heal and move past the guilt that plagues us mothers:

  1. You will make mistakes. Big ones! Don’t waste ONE minute wallowing in “what if’s”…instead use that time to make positive changes. Change your habits. Get help. Ask for forgiveness! You can not change the past, but you can learn from it and change the future.
  2. Your child WILL make mistakes…even if you’ve trained them the right way… because they’re HUMAN. Their choices are NOT your fault.
  3. Be careful of the influences in your child’s life. Friends, caregivers, and media will play the biggest role in their values and who they become. Chose caregivers wisely, allow only good media in your home and encourage positive friendships. If you find out that you’ve made a mistake in one of these areas, do your best to make changes…but remember the first “rule”!
  4. Spend your time wisely and find a balance. Your messy house isn’t a big deal…your kids will NOT remember it. But use your time wisely – if it’s really messy because of hours spent on social media, or Netflix bingeing, take time to develop a balanced schedule of “me” time, “together” time, and “clean” time. Just don’t be so “responsible” that you forget to enjoy life. You will NEVER regret the time you spend just enjoying your children.
  5. DON’T worry about the small things…feeding your children McDonald’s won’t kill them, letting them watch an extra hour of T.V. will not ruin their lives, taking a year off from extra curricular activities will not ruin their chances of playing sports or learning an instrument someday, throwing a simple family birthday party will not damage their future. Life is so much bigger than the type of lotions you buy for your kids or the clothes they wear. Please just don’t go down this trail!! Use your best judgement and respectfully block out unwanted advice!

But above all, learn to accept GRACE. God has unending grace for our shortcomings. Receive this grace. Let it pour into your heart and mind until you can not help but have grace for yourself, your kids, and everyone else around you. God’s grace heals, restores and brings hope to EVERY hopeless situation.

The guilt…it doesn’t go away over night…but it does get better. And when you live your life out of a standpoint of grace, you will begin to see the truth: Mother’s are the first and best gift that any child ever recieves… and to your children there is only one YOU!

YOU are the PERFECT mother for your child! Embrace this and you will find much freedom from that dreaded, ugly #Momguilt.

Advertisements

Finding Hope in Loss through Suicide

First of all if you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you or someone you know has lost a loved one through suicide.

And I want you to know that I’m so so sorry.

I’ve also experienced loss through suicide, although never someone who was really close to me like a sister, or a parent, a friend or a child. And the pain of knowing them hurt enough. I can not imagine your pain or the hopelessness you’ve experienced.

I actually don’t often write about such hard topics because honestly, I don’t feel qualified. I’m not a bible scholar, I’m not highly educated. I’m not a councillor and I haven’t even lost a close loved one to suicide myself. But the other day I read something that bothered me so much, that I felt the need to share.

Now, there’s a reason I blog instead of getting involved in Facebook arguments and comment wars. It’s because I hope, that by not making it personal and by not verbally debating with someone who’s already in defence mode, I can maybe reach a greater audience with the truth, with hope, with healing.

The debate topic was this: Can a person who commits suicide go to heaven? The cold, uncompassionate responses by a few fellow Christians were alarming to me. First of all because they used scripture to back up their points and the scriptures they used actually weren’t about suicide at all, and secondly because I wondered: don’t they realize that of all the people reading what they’ve written, the chances are that at least ONE of them has lost a very dear loved one to suicide and that their comments would cause TERRIBLE pain?

Then finally, it bothered me because it’s not a debate topic!!! IT’s not!! We can not use such painful topics as topics of debate! This doesn’t HELP anyone, it just causes pain, and quite possibly it forces those who are seeking healing within the church, to turn elsewhere for help. And I want you to know that it is not only possible to find healing through Christ, it is the best way to find true healing. So I decided to write about something that happened in my own life that may help to bring healing to those who’ve been walking through this dark road of unending grief.

Almost two years ago, I was going through a very dark time in my life. I was battling with depression, loneliness, and helplessness. God was doing something very special in my heart, a work that only happens through life’s greatest pain…he was teaching me to take off the masks I had been wearing for years. The “I have it all together” mask. The “I can do it myself” mask. The “I don’t need anyone” mask. I had worn these masks for far too long, because in my early years of mothering I always felt the need to prove to the world that I had it all together, that I could do this. I was so determined to prove that I wasn’t the teenage-mom burden on the world that they expected me to be. So what God was doing in my heart was actually a beautiful thing: He was teaching me humility, openness and honesty. He was teaching me how to ask for help. He was teaching me that I am weak and that his strength is made PERFECT in weakness. He was teaching me to share my struggles, instead of hiding them away in my heart.

But there were certain people who saw this struggle and what it looked like to them was that the once “happy” girl they had known was now sad. From what they could see it looked like bitterness, unthankfulness and self-pity. So because of what they saw in me, they tried to “help me” in a way that actually was harming me. They encouraged me to pull myself together and to not turn to people for help, but to heal from these terrible things in my life that were obviously not from God. This taught me something about life that I will never forget: When God is working on someone in a deep way, it can sometimes appear to us from the outside completely OPPOSITE of what is actually happening on the inside.

Think of the story of the sinful woman found in Luke 7:36-50. On the outside, the Pharisees saw this sinful woman inappropriately kneeling and perhaps from his point of view, she was even seducing Jesus and touching his feet. What she did was certainly culturally unacceptable. But Jesus saw her HEART and what he saw was faith, love and repentance.

We can not see people’s hearts. Period. Now before you think I’m saying that everyone is going to heaven, which is not at ALL what I’m saying, I want to share something that I have not shared with many people because it is extremely close to my heart. I also knew that many people would doubt its actual occurance, so I never bothered to share it. After reading the ongoing debates about other people’s salvation I felt I NEEDED to share this, as personal as it is.

About the same time this dark struggle had been going on in my life, I was weeping and praying. I asked God where he had been the past years when I felt so alone. I reminded him of the promises in his word that he would never leave me and I asked him why he had left me.

Then God gave me a vision. Now I don’t get visions often, only a couple of times in my life have I even got a small picture, but this one was as real as a dream except that I was awake and it helped me to see God in a very real and dear way. As I was praying, scenes from my life flashed before me eyes and each scene was very familiar. I saw horrible times, lonely nights of holding screaming babies, moments I had been in all alone without anyone to help, and I saw something so beautiful that I never doubted God’s presence again. In every picture of my life what I hadn’t seen at the time, but I could see clearly in my vision was Jesus. He wasn’t just standing and watching me as I went through my trials. EVERY SINGLE SCENE he was right there, cradling me in his arms, holding me, crying with me. And in that moment I truly understood the meaning of his name Emmanuel: God with Us.

Now this was life changing for me, but the last picture God showed me was completely different from the rest because it had nothing to do with me. I saw a man I knew hanging. He was in his final moments, struggling and fighting for his life and for a moment I was horrified because I had no idea what this had to do with the rest of my vision. But as I watched the scence unfold I saw something amazing. Jesus was standing right in front of him reaching out his hand. At first the man couldn’t see him because he was overcome by his struggles but in the final moments he saw Jesus and he grasped his hand. Jesus held him close in his death.

And from that moment I KNEW that the young man was in heaven with Jesus.

We have no way of knowing what is going on in other people’s hearts. But God does. And he is present in every moment of every single person’s life. All they have to do is reach out and grasp his hand. He’s waiting.

You are Not Your Sin

There have been people throughout history that have used ridicule and shame in attempt train a child, thinking that the lower the child feels about himself and his/her accomplishments, the harder they’ll work to succeed. This has actually been proven one of the most ineffective methods to train a child, and it’s obvious why: if a child believes he is worthless and can not make any difference in the world, he will often give up even trying. It has been proven again and again; the lowest scoring and most troubled students often come from difficult, broken homes. This is why childhood educators are taught that positive reinforcement goes a much further way in a child’s life then yet another detention. We all love to hear those uplifting stories of children who felt completely worthless in life, yet completely turned around and succeeded the moment that one adult/teacher took time to see good in them and believe in them!

Most of us parents learn these things and recognize them in our own parenting. If I yell at my children from the next room for not cleaning up fast enough, they’re rarely encouraged to work harder. In fact, the next time I ask them to clean they seem to dread it and work slower than ever!

But if I take the time to work alongside my children and train them carefully, encouraging each positive step I see, rewarding them when they work hard, the result is amazing! After only doing this a short time, my son actually came and offered one day to help sort the laundry! He was seeing it as an opportunity, not a punishment!

When my child tells me a lie, which is the right way to train him? To call him a liar and to hurl insults at him, that he’s a terrible person and tell him that he’s on his way to hell?

No way!

We know that would never shape a child’s heart the right way! He needs to be corrected, disciplined, loved, and encouraged that what he did was bad, but that he has so much more potential for good! The lie was absolutely wrong, but that’s not WHO he is!

Yet as much as most of us would agree with this line of thinking, there are so many adults in the world today that believe they are what they’ve done.

I believe this is the number one thing that is keeping many people from turning to Jesus. They feel that they’ve been on the wrong path for too long, that they’ve chosen the wrong friends, that they are unworthy of anything else, that they’ve messed far too much to go back. If this is you, I want to tell you something completely life changing: YOU ARE NOT YOUR SIN. God is not repulsed by YOU, he’s repulsed by sin. God doesn’t hate YOU, he hates sin.

God doesn’t see you as you see yourself. He doesn’t even see you as others see you!!

Want to know how God sees you? Here’s a thought: ASK him! Then listen. You may be surprised by what happens next.

God truthfully HATES sin, and his anger at sin was shown by what happened on the cross. I’m not writing a blog post on how God is okay with sin. He’s absolutely not! He is furious at it. Sin caused his own Son’s death on a cross!

Sometimes we see injustice on the Earth and ask why God allows it all? Here’s why: Because he doesn’t see you as equal to your sin! He knows that the moment he comes to put an end to it all and make all the wrong things right, times up. The Bible says that God’s patiently waiting, for ALL people to turn to him. This is why God is ever beckoning us to leave our lives of sin, to turn from evil and repent! If he believed that we were equal to our sins, he wouldn’t wait! He’d demand justice NOW!

But he waits so patiently, you can almost hear him groaning, for he hates the injustice far more than we do, but he LOVES his people SO MUCH.

Now I’m actually not just writing this post for those who have not yet turned to Christ, because I really wanted to address something that I commonly see in Christians as well.

There is a heinous lie that is being taught in many churches that the lower you think of yourself, the more spiritual you must be.

This is completely false.

It sounds good, until you actually stop and read what God’s word has to say:

You are a child of God (John 1:12). You are God’s friend (John 15:15). You are the Apple of God’s Eye (Zechariah 2:8). He died because he loved YOU enough to sacrifice himself for YOU (John3:16). You are the salt and light of the world (Matthew 5:13). You are God’s Temple (1 Cor 3:16). You are a member of Christ’s body (1 Cor 12:27)!

Humility and low self-esteem aren’t the same thing, they are actually enemies.

One can not have true humility by thinking that you’re worth nothing, or that you are the problem with the world. That’s actually just self-hate.

True humility comes not from putting yourself down, but rather from lifting God up.

When you really see the greatness of God, you can’t help but be humbled…and when you realize that He chose YOU, you can no longer feel as if you are worth nothing. This brings about confidence AND humility.

Confidence because of your immeasurable worth to God, but humility because you had nothing to do with it! It was God’s work that made you clean, it was his Spirit living in you that changed you, it is him who works all things together for your good.

How do I end this? What do I say? I long with ALL my heart for everyone I know to KNOW the one true God, the one I love and I ache when those who do know him, still cannot see the difference between themselves and their sin. There is such a HUGE difference between godly conviction and the hopelessness of condemnation.

“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10

You are NOT your sin. You are CHERISHED. You are WANTED. You are LOVED.

The Cross

Heart full of pain, pack heavy as lead,
Not really alive, neither fully dead.
Wandering on to meaningless trails,
Endless darkness, walking the rails.
What am I here for?
Stumbling pain unto pain,
Life is a joke! Nothing to gain.
Flashes of visions: A man on a cross.
Why was he there? Never quite knew,
With all of my struggles, didn’t care to.
Why must everything bad happen to me?
How to avoid it, when one couldn’t see.
Darkness so thick you could choke on the black,
The load just increases upon my sore back.
Strength slowly dying, along with my soul,
Dreams become curses, crushing my goals.
Oh God, what’s the point? Are you even there?
Or am I just cursing into thin air?
If really existing, you’d make yourself known!
Why live anymore if I’m walking alone?
Night cold and hard, yet easier to breathe,
Darkness still felt, but thinner it seems.
I was told to follow my heart all along,
So why did this happen? Where did I go wrong?
Walking along the path that was shown,
Never thought I’d be stuck here, cast out and alone.
“Help!” The cry feels stuck in the air,
“Help me! Please! Much more I can’t bear!”
No sooner the words escape from my lips,
When the heavy pack drops from my grip.
In terror I struggle, I can’t let it go,
Turn back to grab hold, but notice a glow.
A dim light, so faint, didn’t see it before,
Grabbing my pack, I turn to see more.
Dawn peaks her head up from under the night,
I draw ever closer, so mysterious the light.
A loud sound hits the Earth, I hear it so near!
A gruesome sound that turns my stomach in fear,
A man groaning in pain, I rush to the sound,
Crying out loudly, for this man must be found!
The day steadily grows clearer and so does the cry,
Hurry to make it or this man will but die!
Then…there he is, hanging – Oh Lord! It can’t be!
A man cut up and bruised on a dark, blood-stained tree!
“Who did this?!?” I scream!
“How dare they?!?” I shout!
The evil that put this man here, it’s no lie,
The person who did this deserves to die!
Then the eyes of the man turn and look straight at me,
I can barely describe what it looks like to see,
Such innocent eyes, filled with love and pain,
Powerful eyes, but gentle the same.
How could there be such humility there,
Joined with authority in the same stare?
I look all around, searching who is to blame,
Justice would treat them exactly the same.
The man starts to speak, the Earth shakes with his words,
And I know that this Man is the Lord of all Lords!
“My Child, Understand, I was put here for you.”
Falling down on my knees, “Oh God, what did I do?”
Surely, I had nothing to do with this Man,
I had nothing to do with the iron piercing His hands.
Then my pack that I’m holding splits right into two,
And as the nails spill out, I see that it’s true.
The pack that I held, held the proof I was wrong,
The nails that I carried told the truth all along.
It was my very nails that held up the Son,
I could now only scream, “Oh, God! Look what I’ve done!!!”
But it was no use, for the Man’s life was gone.
Weeping and wailing, I fall to the ground,
My sobs carry for miles, a hopeless, lost sound.
Lowly before the cross I now lie,
Not to get up, for down here I will die.
Time standing still, the world holds its breath,
Then who comes forth – but the Man! Defeating his death!
Jaw open, limbs shaking…how can this be?
And my heart trembles greatly as He strides towards me.
Out in the open, nowhere to hide,
Exposed in my filth, dead to my pride.
I brace myself greatly and wait for the blow,
But to my surprise, the Man stoops down low.
He lifts my tear covered face in His hand;
The same voice that formed the sea and the land,
Speaks over me these three precious words, “I love you.”
Then says, “All that I wanted was that you would see,
What I really did for you on that old cursed tree.
And now you have done all that you need,
For in repentance and rest you will find that you’re freed!
It is finished, throw that old pack away!”
The Man stood there shining, brighter than day.
In death I died with Him, in His life I live still,
Now my heart cry becomes, not mine – but His will!
No longer a slave to the sins of my past,
I am saved by His blood, safe at home, free at last!