Mom guilt—it’s something most of us have experienced.
» I could have done or should be doing something more, better, or different for my child.
» I do not provide enough material possessions, spend enough quality time, give enough opportunities.
» I am not granting all the magical fun and adventure that society implies will help my children turn into the best possible human being.
We can easily become weighed down by carrying around these feelings of guilt as extra emotional weight. We can begin to feel like the psalmist in the below passage:
My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. • Psalm 38:4 •
In my younger years, I was a sprinter on the track team. When the team would train for sprints, we would often put weights on our bodies or drag something behind us as we ran. We would practice running 100 meters over and over again while being weighed down.
Then, later in the training session, the weights would come off, and we would run the sprint again. The feeling was indescribable. I would feel my stride widen, my arms would move more freely, and my breathing would not be nearly as labored. The distance between the start and finish line seemed so easy.
The weights had their purpose in training, but I would have been silly to decide to wear the weights on the day of a track meet. Not one runner who wanted to win would make that choice.
Likewise, in life and motherhood, why would we not try to rid ourselves of the weighted emotion of guilt?
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
• Hebrews 12:2 •
The encumbrance of guilty feelings can hinder us from being the person and mother God created us to be, so it is worth taking the time to find truths from Scripture.
Taking a Biblical view of guilt means realizing that guilt is not an emotion intended to weigh down our lives; rather, the purpose of guilt is to make us aware of our wrongdoings so that we are driven to repentance and reconciliation with God.
Scripture teaches that if we feel through our guilt that God is telling us we are sinning or not fulfilling our calling as a mother, then the correct response is repentance and change.
The only purpose of guilt is to be a catalyst for change. Therefore, we are not to get cozy with the emotional weight of guilt or to carry it around with us all day, everyday.
Even more eye-opening is that guilt is not intended to be felt as a response to circumstances or life situations. Scripture study makes it clear that guilt is response to sin, to breaking God’s laws.
So when I feel mom-guilt not from sin but from situations that are a part of the life journey God has given me, I am actually assuming responsibility for those circumstances—and wrongly so! Because not only am I carrying an extra burden of guilt, but I am also grossly underestimating the sovereignty of God. I am thinking of how I (in my minuscule amount personal power) could have altered outcomes that were ordained by a sovereign and all-powerful God.
We get so used to the idea of God being our approachable friend that we don’t remember His power. But focusing our minds on His control over our circumstances can help to remove the unnecessarily assumed burden of feeling guilty.
The book of Job has many lessons on assuming unintended guilt as well as on understanding the sovereignty of God. Job faced unimaginable trials and in the midst of them he had some bad friends telling him the lie that his poor circumstances were a result of something Job did wrong.
The friends were wrongly telling Job to assume guilt for his circumstances. Conversely, God’s response was to remind Job of His power and sovereignty. Job’s circumstances didn’t change but Job’s view of God was renewed.
If you are like me—or like Job—and need a reminder of God’s power through a difficult time, read Job 38-39. Isn’t this the God you want in control of your and your child’s circumstances?
Focusing on the mighty power of God reminds me that the creator and sustainer of life is in control, not me. And there is no better way to experience freedom from the burden of mom-guilt than by recognizing that God is in control.