Summary: 1. When it comes to guilt, know that God can use you as a parent in spite of your imperfections. 2. When it comes to fear and worry, know that God is in control. 3. When it comes to stress, rest in the fact that you are doing the will of God.
She went to a PTO meeting one evening. Her husband and daughter decided that they would do something special for mom, so they cleaned up the kitchen. They put away all the food, wiped all the counters, washed all the pots and put the dishes in the dishwasher — they even remembered to rinse! They swept and mopped the floor, and then waited for her to come home so they could watch the expression on her face. Two hours later she came home from the meeting, glanced at the kitchen, took off her coat, grabbed the remote and plopped in front of the television. Dad and daughter were surprised that she hadn’t noticed or said anything about all their hard work. They followed her into the family room and just kind of stood there looking at her. “What?” she said. Her husband said, “The kitchen.” “The kitchen, what?” she responded. He said, “Well, we cleaned it for you. Didn’t you notice?” She said, “Oh yeah. Thankless job, isn’t it?”
I suppose that only moms really get the true impact of that little story, mainly because they live it. I think that, because of changing roles and increasing pressures, these are tough days for being a mom, and I want you to know from the beginning this morning that I want to offer you words of encouragement today. I have been talking with mothers this week and asking the question: “What is the most difficult part of being a mother? I have tried to condense their responses into three broad categories: 1. I feel guilty about everything — how can I feel okay again? 2. I feel worried about everything — how can I feel secure again? 3. I feel stressed about everything — how can I find relief?
So let me try to address these from a Christian viewpoint. To all of those who feel guilty, let me say first: When it comes to guilt, know that God can use you as a parent in spite of your imperfections. I find that mothers in general carry the burden of guilt for everything that goes wrong in the family. They feel guilty about everything. Somehow they believe they should fix it and make it better. They are the mediator between the father and the children, between the children when they have squabbles, and between all the grandparents and in-laws and the family. (By the way, do you know the definition of grandparent? It is someone who thinks your children are wonderful, even though they think you’re not raising them right.)
If a child is not doing well in school a mom feels that somehow she has failed. If her kids have behavioral problems she feels she has not been a good mother. If her child does not talk or walk by a certain age she is afraid she has done something wrong. Moms wrestle with all kinds of questions. Do Igo through “natural” childbirth or get an epidural? Do I breast or bottle feed? Do I work or stay at home? Do I spank or give time outs? Guilt, guilt and more guilt. One mom said to me, “I need to know how and when to forgive myself.”
You need to know that you are not to blame for everything that goes wrong — especially with older children who make their own decisions, often against what you have taught them. Unrealistic guilt is unhealthy. Jesus Christ came to relieve our guilt, not to pile it on. The Bible says, “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:17). God wants us to live guilt-free lives. He came to take away our guilt, not to add to it. If there is an obvious and deliberate wrong that we have done, then we need to confess it to God, ask for his forgiveness, turn from it and go on. Don’t wallow in your guilt. I love the wonderful passage of Scripture which says, “This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:19-20). God knows your desire to please him and be a good parent. You will not be perfect at it, but he knows what is in your heart. It is not God’s will for us to go around constantly feeling condemned, for the Bible says, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
The apostle Paul prayed for God to take away his imperfections and weaknesses. Here is what he says about what God told him: “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Lean on the grace of God. Do your best, love your children and let God love you. Then trust him for the rest.