Occasionally I will end the day under what feels like a mountain of guilt.
If asked, I might not even be able to identify the offender or mistake that created the burden.
I would most likely describe it as rocks piling up throughout the day, one by one, as I failed to live up to some self-imposed mothering expectation.
It can be very weighty.
In my case, it’s not typically guilt over sins or issues from the past. It usually rears its ugly head throughout my days in mothering. At times it can be pervasive, yet so unobtrusive I don’t even realize the hold it has taken.
It’s almost as if I have set my sites on some sort of gold standard of motherhood. As I continue to fall short, the weight of guilt and deficiency multiplies, adding to the burden I shoulder.
A few months back, at the end of a Saturday spent together as a family, my husband discerningly observed, “You feel guilty a lot, don’t you.”
“Hmm, yeah, I guess I kind of do.”
“You know those are lies you’re believing, right?”
I justified my tendency to embrace the guilt by pointing out the ways I’m not doing enough, not responding correctly, not disciplining perfectly…
He went on to remind me of a truth I know very well, but often tend to forget.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a story I need to hear daily. It’s a reality intended to rock me at my very core, radically affect my world view, and banish guilt.
When I perceive I am not doing or being enough, I am essentially saying I have the ability to do so, but I’m just falling short. I’m trying to live up to the law, like an Israelite of the Old Testament, forgetting the beautiful reality that the burden of the law has been abolished by Christ’s blood.
The Apostle Paul reminds us that Christ has set us free, and to stand firm, no longer submitting to the yoke of slavery.
Some of those self-accusations are true: I’m not always doing as much as I could, I don’t always respond correctly or discipline perfectly. I will never be a perfect mother, no matter how many crafts, books, board games, or recipes are completed in my house. But I can humbly put forth my best effort, all the while leaning into His embrace and overflowing grace.
I have a choice every day to carry a debilitating yoke of guilt, or to surrender it to the One whose yoke is easy, whose burden is light, and who stands with open arms offering life and freedom.
May my constant refrain be that I am not enough and can never be enough. But He is enough. He provides eternal freedom from the unbearable weight of guilt. Today, by grace, I choose to walk in the liberating love of God, knowing that my identity as His beloved is secure despite all of my fear, frailty, and failings. In my heart I cling desperately to Jesus’ beautiful words: child “. . . then neither do I condemn you.” (John 8:11)