One night when I was picking up my 3- and 4-year-old from Awana, they darted out into the church parking lot. It happened before I even realized and immediately I yelled at them to “Stop!” and was fuming with anger. Headlights beamed and cars were making their way out.
I ran as fast as I could to grab them. Other kids were watching my kids in their disobedience. I rebuked them and disciplined them for not listening to Mommy. My heart beat fast as we made our way home and I told them they were in big trouble.
After the incident, I beat myself up and racked my brain about what I could have ve done differently.
Did I fail at telling them what to expect? Do they need more discipline? (Spoiler: yes, always!) Was I too harsh with my words? Did I let my anger overtake me?
I was embarrassed. I prayed and cried and honestly just felt like a failure.
You see, it is this subtle voice after a long day’s work of child-rearing, managing daily responsibilities, making sure the wheels on the house are running smoothly, disciplining defiant children, and more, that says:
You’re not good enough. You’re not the mom you should be. Your kids are a reflection of you. When will you get it together?
The voice of guilt. The voice of condemnation. It’s a cunning voice that sneaks into the cracks of unexpected places with the potential to freeze me from doing anything worthy. Now don’t get me wrong. Guilt can be a very good thing – to show us our offense and to make us keenly aware of our need for repentance. In this situation however, it was a false guilt.
It took my eyes off Jesus and his ability to carry me, and had me focusing on myself, my weaknesses, my struggles, and my incapabilities. It took my eyes off gratitude and filled my heart with negativity, self-pity, and depression. I never once thought of the blessing that I could run fast enough to catch them!
Lysa Terkeurst says,
Learn to be more thankful for what you are than guilty for what you’re not. Cut the threads of guilt with grace.
Grace is God’s unmerited favor, goodwill, and loving-kindness toward us as imperfect sinners. Grace says that God is for us. He loves us and wants to teach us a better way to live. He’s not angry and waiting for us to get our act together, but He is patient and guides us as our loving Father.
In the name of grace, there is no condemnation or a constant beating over the head.
“There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1
In the name of grace, there is no fear in His perfect love.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. – 1 John 4:18
In the name of grace, God is sanctifying and purifying us to be holy.
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 1:6
I don’t know if you’ve felt the grip of guilt on your heart but may I encourage you to let God take it off of your chest – just for today? Don’t worry about tomorrow. Allow him to shower you with his grace in your present situation. His love for you is not contingent on what you do or don’t do as a mom.
The voice of guilt and the voice of grace are always at odds, battling it out with each other on a daily basis. As you begin to listen to them more and see them for what they are, you will see that the voice of grace is always greater.
It is the voice of freedom.
Samantha Krieger is a wife, mother, and writer in rural Colorado. She is the author of the new devotional for moms: “Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches.”