When You are Crippled by Mom-Guilt
You never plan to get hit by a car. You don’t see a small black car missing a stop sign and slamming into your driver’s side door.
Because we walked away with no broken bones, because my injuries that became chronic were invisible to the naked eye, pain defined my life for about a year or two until I learned, with professional help and a lot of work, to manage it better.
In the meantime, I had 5 little kids who still expected to eat. My youngest was still breastfeeding, and wrestling her made my cheeks wet with tears. Cleaning the house was done with lots of deep breaths. I learned what many people with chronic health issues learn to do: designate a good portion of my brain to just consider how to do normal life through the lens of my handicap. Anxiety started to seep into my brain as my pain would grow in severity as the day progressed. Each household chore, snuggle from a child, or even picking up the baby from the crib, took something from my limited store of energy dedicated to pain tolerance.
This made bedtime torturous. My brain would scramble as to how to handle the most basic jobs of a mother. My husband’s work is very seasonally based, and when his busy season came, and he was gone around the clock, it became downright scary for me inside my head.
The guilt was just as bad as the pain, if not worse. I was not the mom I wanted to be. My limitations stared at me like the sun in my eyes during a migraine.
My oldest daughter, who was only 9 years old really stepped up to help more than anyone. She was smart, kind, and capable. I hated that she had to help. The guilt of needing her weighed on me. And yet, she was so gracious to me, I was proud of her.
One night, as I was getting all the kids to bed, she started goofing off, as typical 9 year olds do. I snapped at her. It wasn’t just my tone or my volume. I was plain mean.
Right into my second sentence I lashed at her, I stopped mid-word. Thankfully the Spirit within me shut my mouth. The look on her face broke my heart. Then slowly and deliberately I said, “I shouldn’t have said that. I am very sorry. I need you to go to bed. Now. I need you to help get everyone else to bed. I’m going to go downstairs, and God is going to deal with me right now for what I just said to you.”
I went downstairs and just crumpled into sobs. It was one of the lowest moments as a mother. I needed more help. I needed less pain. I was failing. I was broken.
As I cried out to the Lord to fix this in me…not just my pain, but my mouth, my words, and my temper.
The Holy Spirit whispered in my ears his words from Romans 8:1-2 (ESV) “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
Those words whispered to my heart echoed what I had read that morning: “For godly grief produces repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV)
The lie of condemnation from all my failures and ugliness as a mother were called out, as I realized I do not live in any condemnation. In Christ, I get the conviction that allows me the grace of repentance, not the worldly grief that leaves me helpless and hopeless. My identity is found in Christ. My brokenness cannot shake it.
God can handle broken. God uses conviction, but never condemnation. I learned dependence on God isn’t a handicap, it’s the goal. The lie wasn’t calling my sin out, it was in giving me a name based on that sin. Only God has the right to name me. What names is Satan calling you because of your sin?
Gretchen is a mom to 6 hilarious kids, and works as a homeschool mom, tutor, and writer. She is committed to encouraging young women in the thick of life, and raising up a new generation of mentors trained to consistently encourage younger women, help them fight off the lies from the enemy, and point to how the gospel applies to every part of of their lives. She blogs at gretchenronnevik.com and can also be found at [Instagram].
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