I struggle with feeling guilty sometimes.
Guilt for being out running errands and leaving my teenager to make lunch.
Guilt for not seeing so-n-so’s text message and failing to get back to them right away.
Guilt for missing that call from Dad (or whomever).
Guilt for having to say no to a season of sports or that other activity.
Guilt for not volunteering at the church ________ (name your ministry).
Or guilt for volunteering, but not doing my best.
There is even a temptation to struggle with feeling guilty when we are doing what we should be.
For example, I can be sitting and nursing the baby, meanwhile feeling guilty, as the kids need my help with something, or while I am staring at a mess that needs to be cleaned up! Obviously, I know in my mind and my heart that I am doing what I should be– feeding my baby and delighting in this season. But if I am honest, there are still moments when I struggle with the temptation to be disappointed in myself, even as I am doing what I should be!
I preach to myself and encourage sisters in the Lord to embrace the season they are in, to not allow our expectations of ourselves to entrap us in a bondage of dissatisfaction. I have experienced seasons of laughing in the face of this mommy guilt.
Truthfully, the temptation is always there.
There is always something I could look at and find disappointment in myself (or others).
We are to be stewards.
Stewards of all the resources and gifts we have been given, and that includes TIME.
In fact, I would be willing to say that time really is ONE of our greatest commodities.
And choosing to steward how we spend our time well is our responsibility. I personally have a deep conviction to be as intentional with my time as possible.
That being said, this desire to be intentional is often followed by the temptation to feel guilty about all the things I am NOT doing because of what I am doing.
Name your scenario. There are millions of them. You may have been able to relate to some of my examples listed above, but I am certain you have your own list. Whether it be guilt for working, or not working late, or for simply being too tired to cook and running by the drive-thru for dinner.
The reality is that we all have one struggle in common.
The struggle NOT to define ourselves by what we do.
It’s our expectations.
The expectations of our culture, community, and even family and friends play a huge part in influencing the expectations we have of ourselves; but we also have to take responsibility for giving them that power of influence.
So here is a simple exercise or set of questions, I have been asking myself this past year to keep myself in check regarding my expectations of myself.
Who are you trying to please?
Do you believe that person (a friend, husband, God, or even yourself) will love you less or judge you for not doing it?
Is it eternal?
I have to ask myself the question, is it eternal often. This is a lesson I have been learning over time.
When I was a young mom, I used to be almost anal about cleanliness. Ok, let’s be honest. I am not just talking about sanitary here. I was borderline OCD. Everything had its place, and it needed to be in it. I insisted on doing the dishes and laundry myself because it would drive me crazy if it wasn’t done “RIGHT,” and my way WAS right.
I did all the grocery shopping because let’s face it, there is a more efficient way to shop, load and unload the groceries, and I wanted it done correctly.
Over time and seven children later, I have learned to let it go and let others help! I had to literally let others carry some of the load, even if it wasn’t done the way I would have done it.
Yes, that means pots and pans will not get stacked very well by the younger children and at times it will feel like a booby trap, but the job gets done.
Yes, that means that there are crumbs and dust bunnies hiding in the cracks and corners of some of my home, but it’s not eternal.
The truth is, that having a large family has been like boot camp for me in letting go and being wise with what I choose to allow to upset me. Ten years ago, I would have been SUPER embarrassed to have friends drop by unless the house was put together, but now, I am way less uptight about it because my expectations of myself and my family are hopefully filled with grace. We aren’t perfect, but I have found that letting some non-eternal things go in order to have the heart-to-heart conversations, is way more important AND more profitable.
So, let me ask you.
Do you let expectations of yourself and your family/home get in the way of fellowship?
Do your expectations of yourself attack your view of yourself?
Sister, you are loved by the one true God. Your identity is in Him, not in what you do. So live life in the freedom that comes from truly believing that. And let your children and husband live in that freedom too.
The enemy wants to steal your joy. He wants to distract you from finding that joy in the moment. He wants to tempt you to focus on the temporal things so your time is consumed. You have to be intentional about living in freedom, and not allowing your expectations to entrap you in a self-imposed bondage.
So let me challenge you to stop doing the dishes and go play charades with your children. Put on that worship music and dance with your kids while they still want you to!
May Grace Be Yours.