Real Guilt

November 1, 2011 in Hearts at Home,mom guilt

Ever since Jill Savage, founder of Hearts at Home, asked us to share a story of guilt on her blog hop (read other stories of mom guilt here), I’ve been pondering the post I wrote. Really, I don’t feel guilty about the time Hadley pulled her little sister’s arm out of place. For me it is one of those, “It happens moments.” Mostly the story makes me laugh.  The arm dislocation story was the first one that came to mind since Jill’s story was along the same lines: a time when a child got hurt because we weren’t paying close attention. Certainly such stories can cause guilt, but not in my case.

For me, the mom guilt comes in the little things. Mostly in the ways I view myself as inferior to other moms. Here’s some examples of little things that make me feel guilty:

  • Opening a produce drawer in the refrigerator and finding a rotting cucumber, a rotting pepper and a rotting spinach. 
  • Finding leftovers in the back of the fridge that are growing mold, not so much because I forgot about it but because I didn’t like what I made and preferred to eat something with melted cheese. 
  • Checking out at the grocery store that doubles coupons up to $1.00 and not having any coupons to hand the cashier.
  • Spending money on some little trinket like a hair accessory for the girls when I know I the budget doesn’t really allow it. 
  • Listening to a friend talk about her training schedule for a 10K, knowing that I did not exercise once during the week and really could have found the time. 
  • Learning of a friend who accomplished ten big projects in one day while I accomplished only one. 

Guilt comes in two forms: useful (rare) and harmful. Guilt over something we should be doing, like spending time with God, eating well or exercising can be useful only if it motivates us to confess our sin and ask God to help us change. Guilt doesn’t usually work this way because even if we confess, we usually hold on to the guilt and allow it to steal contentment and joy. Most guilt, at least most of my guilt, comes from comparing myself to other people and not measuring up. I may not accomplish ten projects in one day, but I called a friend to pray with her and I spent time with God while reading his word, and I counseled my nine-year-old as dealt with the most recent “mean girl” event at school.

Perhaps my guilt is harmful because most it comes from standard’s of the world. Guilt can’t be useful unless the Spirit is convicting your heart of sin. 
For now, my best defense against harmful guilt is to redirect my thinking to God’s word which clearly states the standards of God. 
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.–Micah 6:8 (NIV)

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