I want to welcome my friend, Wendy Duke to “Ask God Today.” Wendy wrote this post below just for you, my readers. Wendy has transparency in her words and her heart. I am sure you will be blessed as you read her message to those of us who are moms. This applies to you sweet dads as well, so you will know the heart of a mom.
Wendy talks the talk and walks the walk! She loves the Lord and lives her life serving Him and her sweet and precious family! She is the real deal! Please help me welcome Wendy by sharing your comments with her. Wendy wrote her first book called “The Grace By Which We Stand.” about her daughter being born with cancer. She also shares bits and pieces of her story in my upcoming book, “Joy Beyond.” Welcome Wendy!
Spoiler alert: I don’t think this exists. It is like the Utopia of parenting, that vaporous fairy-tale land tucked away in some far away mountain paradise. It’s an urban legend. A mother’s myth.
Every mom I know struggles with guilt of some sort. We constantly blame ourselves for every mistake, every disappointment, every ounce of unhappiness our kids experience. Will they be psychologically scarred for life because I just lost my cool? Will they be materialistic if I buy them this new iPod case or develop an unhealthy desire for worldly possessions if I don’t? Is she going to be emotionally damaged and seek affection from boys because I don’t hug her enough? Seriously, it’s exhausting.
And I don’t know a single mama who doesn’t take it personally when her child brings home a Friday Folder with a frowny face… Have I not communicated our expectations clearly enough? Am I too soft on him because he’s the baby? Is she trying to get my attention? Does this teacher hate my child and I’m not defending him enough? Oh my gosh, what if he’s a sociopath and I’m enabling him and we end up on a future episode of Law & Order?
Is it just me, or do we Mamas all project our own insecurities, fears and failures onto our children—imagining the horrible scenarios that are possible if we blow this assignment? It could just be me: I have a wicked imagination, and I watch too many crime shows. But I’m guessing it’s not just me.
And as a mom in ministry, this guiltfest is compounded when I recognize the sacrifices my kids have made in our commitment to serve God. We’ve hauled our kiddos kicking and screaming to a gazillion church events, meetings, service projects, mission conferences and worship services. We travel across the world either toting them along or leaving them behind. All travelling parents know this kind of guilt, but it’s a different thing altogether to resent your dad’s boss for sending him on a business trip, and resenting God for sending your parents to a third world country to share the Gospel for two weeks. I want my children to love Jesus more than life itself. And most days, I tell myself that the rewards outweigh the risks—that my kids get to see God work in extraordinary ways. And then there are weeks like this last one, when both kids come home with less-than-stellar grades and I start the blame spiral: It’s because we took them out of school for three months and we’ve probably ruined their chances at getting into college and they’ll have to live in our basement until they’re 40 and they will never want to be a missionary or serve God in any voluntary way because the costs are too high…
These are the fears that make nights long and creep up on me in airports on the way to share Jesus. They rise up in the pit of my stomach when I drive to a speaking engagement, knowing I’ll miss telling my babies goodnight. They’re the things I don’t mention in prayer circles because I can’t bear the thought of a condescending expression that says, That’s what you get when you drag your kids all over the world.
I went to a U2 concert when I was a freshman in college. During the show there was a marquee that would flash intermittently with GUILT IS NOT FROM GOD. I was a little indignant, at first– chalked it up to a cop-out for living like the devil, even though it was U2 and all, and criticism of U2 is pretty much illegal. But it stuck with me, and as my theology developed, I realized that guilt is not the voice of God but the scare tactics of the Enemy. While the powers of darkness see the little lives at stake and screech my failures, weaknesses and flaws, the still, small voice of God is calling me forward tenderly: Follow me. I won’t leave you. My grace is sufficient for you; my power is made perfect in your weakness. There is a way to do this well, and I am it. Trust me.
There is a difference between conviction and guilt: conviction calls us out of defeat toward victory, guilt tries to convince us to quit. God’s voice is not mean and accusing; it’s gentle and kind. But the voice of our Enemy is condemning and destructive. We’ve gotta recognize the conspiracy to take us out. Don’t fall for it, sisters.
We can help each other with this. We can stop passing judgment on parents who do this thing differently than we do. We can encourage each other rather than comparing ourselves to each other, because, hey, our kids were custom-made for us, and us for them. We can stop posting articles affirming our chosen method of parenting, hoping that someone else will see that we’re right; that just engages the voices of guilt for someone else. We can learn from each other without abandoning our convictions. It’s not a competition…you know there’s no prize for this job, right? Except for the beautiful kids who will grow up to be beautiful people when this is all over and done. Sometimes mistakes and disappointments are the best way to learn. So we can stop looking at the mistakes of other people’s kids and pointing an accusing finger: If they used more discipline…hadn’t have gotten divorced…fed their children organic food…didn’t work so much…didn’t homeschool…weren’t so strict…didn’t let their kids play video games… That noise sounds little like our Defender and a whole lot like our Accuser.
So pick your heads up, Mamas. Trust God to fill in the gaps. Ask Him for His help continually. Give yourself, and others, some grace. Encourage fellow moms. And remember that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are following His lead.
“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
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