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What would you say if I told you that, as Christian moms, we can be free from mommy guilt once and for all? Would you believe me? This may seem like wishful thinking if mommy guilt is something you struggle with on a daily basis. In truth, however, it is not wishful thinking for a daughter of God – if she has a Biblical understanding of the truth of the Gospel and its full implications.
The answer to our mommy guilt problem is not found in reading more self-help books. It is not found in implementing into our lives more Pinterest-inspired craft times, organic meals, and elaborate birthday parties. It is not found in, through our own strength, “trying harder” to be good moms. Rather, the answer to our problem of pervasive mommy guilt is found in right theology. It all comes down to whether or not we are taking every thought captive to the truth of God’s Word. It all comes down to our realizing once and for all that the good news of the Gospel does not merely affect our eternity, but our everyday lives, as well.
What does this look like, though, practically speaking? When mommy guilt comes a-calling, what are we to do? How can the Gospel actually impact our feelings of mommy guilt on a daily basis? To answer these questions, what follows is a list of 5 things we should do when we find ourselves experiencing mommy guilt.
5 Things to Do When Mommy Guilt Comes Calling
Understand your position and identity in Christ.
This is positively crucial (which is precisely why it’s #1 in the list of things we must do if we are going to combat mommy guilt). The good news of the Gospel is relevant and applicable even to the mommy guilt issue because if we are in Christ, we are forever free from guilt and shame. At the moment of salvation, our sin is forever removed as far from us as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), in its place is imputed the very righteousness of Christ Himself, and thus when God looks at us, He now sees nothing but perfection and holiness. He sees Christ and what He accomplished on our behalf. This is why Paul is able to then say in Romans 8:1 that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. (emphasis mine)” Your position, your standing before God, your very identity itself is now based in what Christ did for you and His righteousness that is now your own. Your identity and worth as a mom are not based on what you do, but in Whose you are. They are not based on what you do, but on what Christ did. Therefore, when you understand the full implications of this truth, you can shed the burden of mommy guilt once and for all, understanding that when God looks at you, He does not see a guilty person. He sees a redeemed saint in Christ. Knowing how God looks at you is essential for being freed from the burden of mommy guilt.
Glean your standards from the Word (and let other things go!).
A big problem with the onslaught of mommy guilt in our day is that it typically isn’t even based on a failure to live up to what are actual standards of God (e.g. training up your children in the way they should go, loving your children, etc.). Much of the mommy guilt we experience results from our believing we have not lived up to what are actual mere standards of man – our failure to sit on the floor and play for an hour with our kids every day, our failure to throw the most creative birthday party imaginable, our failure to cook all-organic meals for our children, our failure to make homemade play dough, and the list goes on. Hear me when I say, mama: the Lord is far more interested in us following His call to train up the next generation in the truth of His Word than He is whether or not we do crafts with our children today. He is more concerned with our motherhood being Bible-inspired than He is Pinterest-inspired. It’s not that those other endeavors aren’t worthwhile, fun, or great for making memories – they are! But if the mommy guilt we are experiencing is a result of our not doing something social media is telling us we have to do, we need to let that go. Social media is not God, and we need to stop giving it His place in our lives.
Know the difference between conviction and guilt/condemnation.
In all this encouraging talk of the reality of our position in Christ as being forever free, redeemed, forgiven, and made new, we need to not become wishy-washy with what are true Biblical standards, throwing all caution to the wind, and never feeling remorse when we do things which are legitimately wrong. However, there is a big difference between guilt (and condemnation, which are both from Satan and should have no hold over believers) and true conviction (which is from the Holy Spirit and designed to grow and sanctify us). How can we know if the “mommy guilt” we are experiencing is truly guilt and condemnation and should be rejected, or if it is conviction from the Holy Spirit and should be heeded? The difference is two-fold: 1) True conviction is based on actual Biblical standards – not on man-made ideals or expectations and 2) True conviction always makes you want to go to the Lord, not run from Him. Which brings us to the 4th thing to do when experiencing mommy guilt, and that is:
Go to the Lord.
One of the reasons Satan works overtime in an effort to enslave us in bondage to mommy guilt is because he knows our tendency is to run from God when experiencing feelings of shame. We see this all the way back in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve hid from God after they sinned. Rather than hiding in shame, however, our God wants us to come to Him when we are feeling guilt (even if it is over one of those man-made standards which actually are not even sin issues). We serve a God who is all about restoration, reconciliation, and relationship. Any time we feel guilt or shame over actual sin (or even just a failure to live up to our own expectations as moms!), our Heavenly Father wants us to come to Him. He loves us with an everlasting love and views us as His children whom He simply wants to welcome back with open arms. If mommy guilt comes calling, go to the Lord! Don’t hide. Fear, shame, guilt, and condemnation are not conductive to close fellowship and intimacy with the Father.
Keep your eyes fixed on eternity.
When we as moms keep our eyes focused on the temporal here-and-now cares of this world, we tend to walk in shame, regret, fear, and hopelessness. When we keep our eyes fixed on the Lord, however, and on the eternity He is preparing in Heaven for us, we can walk in joy, peace, and newness of life. When we refuse to fall prey to the snare of mommy guilt, instead focusing on our position before God in Christ, we become powerful witnesses to the watching world. When we refuse to fall prey to the expectations of man and do not give in to the “martyr complex” taken on by many a mom these days, instead choosing to live out the kind of abundant life Christ has provided for us, we stop the watching world in its tracks and cause people to wonder after the reason for the hope they see within us. Intentionally letting go of the mommy guilt each time it attempts to take hold will have a far-reaching impact for Christ on both our fellow Christian mamas as well as on the world at large.
To Sum it All Up
As I write about extensively in Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them), I wholeheartedly believe that the good news of God’s Word is not merely good news for our eternity. It is good news for our here and now, as well, applicable and relevant to each and every struggle we will ever face as moms (not the least of which is the struggle of mommy guilt!). But in order for this to be the case, sweet sister, we have to actually know the Word. And we have to close our ears to the lies of Satan, directly fighting them with that Word.
The solution for finally combating mommy guilt is the Gospel – not self-help books, not becoming more of a Pinterest mom, not following every blogger or parenting expert and what they say to do. The solution is found in following in the footsteps of Christ and understanding what our position is in Him. This is what will ultimately put an end to mommy guilt.
So look to Him, dear mama, and therein find the freedom you seek. For, as Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1, we must “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”
Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, mama of two littles, home business owner, podcaster, and blogger residing in TN. Her passion is to bless fellow Christian women through her writings on her website, Hargraves Home and Hearth, which exists to “edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood”. Rebekah’s first book, “Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them)”, releases in November. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.