Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Pursuit of Potential: Lie # 8

" I am not a good mom."
" I am a bad mom and my child has a lot of problems because of me."
" I wasn't a good mother; I didn't live a holy life.."
" I didn't raise my children in God's Word in the deep and full manner that I should have."
"I am responsible for my child's sin and feeling unloved."

If I could come face to face with each of the women who scribbled these lies above onto their notecards, I would wrap my arms around them and give them the biggest, longest hugs ever.

Being a mom myself, I can fully relate to feeling inadequate, unequipped, and sometimes even disappointed in my abilities to be the mom I want to be.

God not only created a woman with the ability to give birth to or adopt children, but also filled her with the innate compulsion to love, nurture and raise those children with all their heart. So when child-rearing doesnt go as planned, and parenting problems arise which seem bigger than life, it is easy to get so discouraged and distraught, that we feel we have nothing else to do... except blame and condemn ourselves, and hang our heads in defeat and shame.

Just recently, I became aware that one of my children had done something that they knew we would not approve of. I was so disappointed in the decision they had made, mainly due to the peer pressure they had felt.

But in the midst of the life lecturing, reprimanding, punishment doling, and praying - I also felt guilty.

Guilty for not knowing about this indiscretion sooner. Guilty for not saying "no" to certain social requests which I already had a bad intuition about. Guilty for not teaching or preparing my child better about the issue. Guilty for being overly trusting. And so on, and so on.

In fact, I pretty much beat myself up for weeks about what had happened, what I could/should have done differently, how I could have been a better parent, decisions I should have made differently, or how I could have handled the situation better. I began to blame myself, above all else.

Unfortunately, every mom finds herself at war with guilt at one point or another. Whether the guilt comes from being a working mom and feeling like we dont spend enough time with the kids, or from being over protective or under protective as they get older, or even from thinking that our grown kids are making mistakes because we were not a good enough parent - guilt is guilt. And can choke the joy right out of our hearts.

This state of guilt, blame, self-condemnation and joylessness, is right where the enemy wants us. As we find ourselves drowning in a cesspool of guilt, getting deeper by the minute as our thoughts focus on the could-have's/should have's/would have's, satan slowly gains control over not only our thoughts, but our actions as well.

You see, if the enemy can make us feel condemned and a bad mom, then we will convince ourselves that we are unqualified, and unworthy, of trying to be a better mom going forward. I have always said discouragement is one of satans most powerful tools, and that holds true in parenting as well.

If the enemy can make us believe that we should accept full responsibility for the actions of our children, young or grown, then we will be so busy beating ourselves up everyday for what we should have done better or different, then we will be too afraid to do anything at all.

If the enemy can make us feel defeated as a person, and as a parent, then our self-confidence in our parenting abilities will be so low, that we may find ourselves backing away from our responsibilities as a parent, for fear of making a mistake.

Guilt, in any form, if left unresolved, can send us into a downward spiral of discouragement, and will gradually become a barrier in our relationship with Christ.

As parents, we have been called to raise the next generation. We have been called to minister to the children God brings into our lives and teach them the ways of the Lord. We have been called to stand up for what we believe, and not to conform to the world.

But what we seem to forget, is that in this midst of this high calling of motherhood, we were never simultaneously called to be perfect.

I think every mom secretly believes that she must meet that goal of perfection - and when we feel we fall short, because of something we did or neglected to do - or something our children did or neglected to do - then we immediately feel as if we have failed.

But God did not intend for us to live a life entangled with guilt - Christ came to set us free with forgiveness, redemption, and renewal of our minds and hearts, every day. We are reassured of this in Romans 8:1, when we are told "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus."

Then in Romans 8:26, it says "And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness."

The entire chapter of Romans 8 can be an encouragement to us as Christians and as moms, but these two verses above, remind us that God wants us to live guilt-free - so much so, that He sent His Son to die for it.

These verses also exemplify that even when we feel weak with guilt and regret, in any area of our life, He will be our strength, if we ask.

As much as we would all like to be a perfect parent, that is an unreasonable, and unattainable, expectation.

If perfect, mistake-free, infallible parenting is our goal - or if we believe if we can groom perfect children if we try hard enough - then we are instantly setting ourselves up for great disappointment and discouragement.

Whether our children are toddlers, teens or grown adults, we will all struggle with feelings about what we did wrong, wonder if things could have turned out differently had we been a better parent, and fight feelings of guilt about mistakes we know we made during the parenting journey.

Knowing that to be true, I believe we are each faced with a personal choice. A choice that can make us, or break us, as individuals, as parents, and as Christians.

Choice #1: Continue to believe that we are not, or were not, a good enough parent, and consent to living a life of guilt, shame and blame, while allowing satan to grab hold of our hearts, and keep our Godly thoughts and actions stifled.

Choice #2: Accept the reality that we are all sinners, and make mistakes, in parenting and all areas of life; and all the while embracing God's truth that no matter what we have done, or what our children have done, He holds it all in His hands, and His desire, is for us to lean on Him, and be acutely aware of our ongoing need for His grace and guidance.

As for me, I like choice #2 much, much better. What about you?

Prayer for today: Oh Lord, you know the guilt I hold in my heart for (xxxx). Guilt for my own sins and shortcomings, and for those of my children, which I may feel responsible for. I know that You do not desire for me to feel guilty, because You are a loving and forgiving Savior. You died for my sins, and the sins of my children. Forgive me for focusing so much on my own failures and insecurties, that I neglect to focus on You. Forgive me for allowing condemnation, fear and discouragement to keep me in spiritual and emotional bondage.

If I am responsible for some of the bad choices that my children have made, please help me to focus on Your forgiveness, and to forgive myself. Reveal to me how I can help my children to see You in me, to learn to love you more, and to understand the need for You in their lives, even if I have failed at doing that in the past. Lord, help me to forget the past, and throw out all guilt, so that I can look to the future and excitedly await to see Your activity in the lives of me and my family. Encourage and inspire my spirit to be the Mom you called me to be. In Jesus name, Amen.

The Pursuit of Potential: Lie # 8SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

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