I’ll never forget it. I was having one of those weeks where being a working mom was weighing on me heavier than normal. I felt like my Facebook timeline was full of my friends’ pictures of play dates while I couldn’t get my task list or my phone notifications cleared. Not to mention, my mind was constantly racing with every mistake I had ever made in motherhood.
My oldest son was in kindergarten, and on the way home from school, he said, “Hey, Mom. This is career week at my school. Do you think you could come to my class and talk about your job?”
I didn’t hear the innocent voice of my son who was proud of his mom and wanted me to share my career with his class. I heard a shaming inner voice that said, “He finally thinks there’s something you can do for his class… and of course, it has to do with your work.”
Out of guilt, I agreed to go. So the next day, I showed up an hour early before dismissal, prepared with a few of my books to talk to Noah’s class.
Noah’s teacher said, “Noah, would you like to introduce us to our special guest?”
My son took my hand and proudly walked me to the front of his classroom. “This is my mom, and she has the best job in the whole world. She tells people about Jesus all day long. And when I grow up, I want to do what she does.”
My eyes instantly welled up with tears (which is not normal for me!), and I silently prayed to thank God for using my son as His voice of truth.
I had allowed guilt to take over. And my friend, guilt is a feeling, and feelings are real.
But just because feelings are real, that doesn’t always mean our feelings are true.
The guilt that I was feeling… that I was a bad mom… that those other moms were better than me… that my kids weren’t proud of me…
Those were lies.
My friend Somer Phoebus lovingly pointed out in one of her she works HIS way teachings a few weeks ago: “There is a big difference between guilt and conviction, and as believers, we must be able to discern the difference.”
And every mom shouted “Amen!”
Guilt is a constant cycle of shame that taunts you, reminding you of past failures, simultaneously paralyzing your present. Conviction is truthful correction that brings you to a place of repentance and forgiveness.
So here are a few things I do now to help me make sure that I put an end to the guilt cycle, while simultaneously remaining open for loving correction.
Seek God first.
Conviction comes from God, so if we want to position ourselves to be corrected by Him, we must seek Him. Matthew 6:33 reminds us: “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
God is our foundation and no other foundation will do. Good things aren’t necessarily God things, and we must rely on His wisdom to know the difference.
Let your family be your accountability.
Maybe you’re like me, and your inner voice can quickly become your harshest critic. You may be placing feelings and expectations on yourself that your family doesn’t have. So don’t assume. Ask.
I began asking my kids how they felt about my job when they were toddlers. I have real conversations with my husband as well. Sometimes, I walk away feeling like a hero. Other times, I walk away with very real examples of how I can do better.
I’m not perfect, and I never will be. But I do know this: I do a much better job when I’m intentional to pursue their perspective. After all, my career always has the potential to shift, but my husband and my children are assignments God has entrusted only to me.
Fiercely defend the time you have at home.
With today’s technology, we are more accessible than ever before. So even though you’re at home, there’s a good chance that work can still contact you after hours. Yes, every job is different, but most of the time, we must simply have the discipline to remember that work can wait.
Those emails will still be there in the morning. There’s no rule that says texts or calls have to be returned immediately.
Our families will be fine if we take time to be focused on work… but they must also see us taking the time to focus on them too.
Be humble + apologize when you fall short.
Even with the best of intentions, we won’t always get it right. So as my pastor always says, “When you mess up, ‘fess up.”
Hypocrisy does far more damage in homes than hard conversations. Some of the sweetest moments I’ve had with my kids have been moments when I’ve asked them to forgive me after I blew it. Repentance restores. Pride is what creates distance.
Shorten your approval list.
Most often, I find that when guilt creeps in, it’s because we’ve allowed too many voices to speak into what we “should” do. I remember very young in my career, a trusted mentor telling me:
“You are the only one that will fight for your family, so you align yourself with God and fight for them.”
Your boss will not fight for your family.
Your customers will not fight for your family.
Your social media followers will not fight for your family.
Seek God’s approval, hold tightly to the assignments He has given only to you, and trust Him for the results.
You’ve got this, mama, because He’s got you.