| from Sherri Seligson |
It’s something all mothers face. We wrestle over things we have done (or shouldn’t have done) with our children. If you’ve been a mom for any great length of time, you likely know what I mean: serving cold, leftover pizza for breakfast because I was up with a sick child the night before or allowing one more video episode to play so I can fold one more load of laundry.
How about when I noticed that my child’s pants were on inside-out while we were on a field trip? Or the time I forgot to purchase a Father’s Day card for my husband and at the last minute frantically asked the kids to make a homemade card as my feeble attempt to make it seem like it was my original plan?
I always seemed to feel guilty about one thing or another, and over the years as I have spoken with and encouraged other moms, I realize this is something we all face. Let me ask you this: Is there something in the back of your mind that is nagging you as you are reading this right now? Perhaps it is something that recently happened or you are replaying something from last week or month that you wish you could have done in a different way if you could only turn back time.
I get it. I have raised four children and homeschooled them from kindergarten through 12th grade (which adds to the potential guilt game!) so I am dealing with those types of thoughts even today. I relive things I did in the past and have to face regret or frustration as I try to push those thoughts away.
If you deal with mom guilt, know that you are not alone. It is so hard for us as mothers to forgive ourselves. That guilt sometimes lies in the day-to-day running of a household or caring for children, but it can also go way beyond serving cereal for dinner. It’s real.
I took some time to do a word search for Bible verses that focus on guilt and forgiveness together, but there were few that popped up. However that does not mean that topic is not addressed. You see, there are lots of verses (indeed, whole passages) that deal with the sin of unbelief. What does unbelief have to do with guilt?
Well, in Romans 8:1, Paul writes, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
And then in 2 Corinthians 5:17, he says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
If you are a Christian, then, you are filled with the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. And there is no condemnation for you. So when God looks at me, for example, He doesn’t see my mistakes but rather He sees Jesus’ perfection covering over me – that righteousness that I do not have, as if I’ve never sinned. Thus, my sins are forgiven.
Now, that is a wonderful thing that fills me with gratefulness and praise, but what does that have to do with guilt? Why do I keep reliving my mistakes and feelings of letting my children and my husband down by not doing things just right? If I believe I have forgiveness from God, why don’t I believe what Paul is writing?
I am in Christ, so I am a new creation. So if I am living with guilt and regret, I am really denying the work of Jesus. God forgives me, but I am not forgiving myself. Well, intellectually I am forgiving myself, but my heart just won’t let things go! That is definitely NOT forgiveness, but rather it is rejecting what Christ has done for me.
Can you see how holding onto guilt is really rejecting God’s forgiveness?
When I live in guilt, I am never at rest inside. Do you struggle like me? I know that sometimes we can temporarily push the guilt away from our minds, but it stays there like a weed, growing back again and again unless we get those roots out.
We can remove those roots by turning to God’s powerful word:
“For we who have believed enter that rest” (Heb. 4:3)
The rest Paul is speaking about here comes with Christ’s salvation and forgiveness.
When we completely accept (sometimes reminding ourselves regularly) that our sins are forgotten and each day is a new day in Christ, then we find that rest we need and the guilt won’t hold us down.
Think about it. If the God of all creation – the one who spoke everything into being and mightily holds it all in His hands – provided for us to have a relationship with Him by making us righteous in his sight (thanks to Jesus’ finished work!), then by living in my guilt I am basically ignoring all that. I am dwelling in my self-imposed imperfections and living in that condemnation that Romans talks about.
So when guilt regrows in my mind and I fall into reliving my flaws – literally fertilizing those weeds of guilt – I can go to God’s word to remind myself He is big enough to deal with that. Actually, He has already dealt with it.
That means I can move forward with joy.
Moms, let Him do that for you. Make a habit of reminding yourself who you are in Christ. Yes, you will make mistakes, but He knows you and made you into a new creation. Because of that you can rest in Him. This doesn’t mean you will never face guilt, but you do have a way to deal with it. You are given the awe-filling goodness of Christ’s work, and you have His overwhelming love.
Embrace that. Even when you dress your toddler in yesterday’s clothes.
Sherri Seligson is a 21-year veteran homeschool mom and marine biologist. She has authored Apologia’s Exploring Creation Science Curriculum, Instructional Science Video Series, and many other publications. An international conference speaker, Sherri encourages moms and teaches families the value of studying God’s creation. You can connect with Sherri at www.sherriseligson.com.