I’m a stay at home mom. I’m a lot of other things, too, but when a new acquaintance asks, “So what do you do?” this is now my reply. It hasn’t always been. I used to work outside of our home, and even when I stepped back from outside job responsibilities, I felt some kind of need or desire to pad my answer. For a while, “stay at home mom” felt like it had to come with a preface. A “just” or an “I’m only.” Slowly but surely I’m learning not to cut myself short for this significant role, but it’s hard.
A stay at home mom. The guilt can start right there, can’t it? Even for moms who want to stay at home and love to stay at home, somehow guilt attaches itself to this title. If I stay at home full time and other moms can’t (but want to), there’s guilt in the freedom I have to be at home with my littles. If I stay at home full time and other moms don’t, and they have great peace about balancing two roles, there’s guilt in not contributing to the world in some other way outside of being a wife and mom. If I stay at home with two children I’ve carried in utero, and other moms with beautiful mama hearts are still waiting for answered prayers and babies of their own, there is guilt in knowing that I didn’t bear the same struggle. I’m telling you, in this comparison game we play as mamas, guilt seems to think it can sneak in all around.
Guilt isn’t just for the stay at home mom, though. It darkens days for the mama who wants so badly to stay at home but isn’t able for any number of reasons. It’s painfully tangible for the mama who desperately desires to carry her own babies, and for the one who waits with hope and expectation for the day that God makes her a mother through adoption. There’s guilt for the mama who has babies of her own, but who has also lost babies of her own. In motherhood, as in other areas of life, the good we do and the prayers we pray and the hopes we have still do not always drown out the voices in our heads that we aren’t good enough. We aren’t productive enough. Our bodies aren’t capable enough. We aren’t enough.
But here’s the thing.
This guilt and those voices and the feelings of not being enough–for any host of valid and challenging and very real reasons–each come from a place that is not of God, in an effort to thwart our passions and determination to do the very (important!) things that He has called us to do. God is not mean, and He is not poor. The deepest desires of our hearts come from the overflow of His heart into our lives…the outpouring of His spirit over us, so that we are drawn to the tasks and adventures He has planned for us here on earth. He doesn’t promise which way He will take us to get to the very things He has for us. He promises, if we trust Him and open our hands to what He has in mind, that He is able to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. He promises that we are His, and that He calls us as His own.
My microscopic view of the call God has placed on my life is insignificant, compared to what He has for me…for my family, my marriage, my future. And it’s not likely to look exactly how I thought it would, or how I thought it should. It hasn’t already. I would never have invited pain into my own life the way that God has allowed it in. And I would never have imagined how He could use that pain for good in any way. Starting out marriage in a scary place, halfway around the world. Trying to gain traction in our marriage–at a cost, afterwards. Facing the death of someone incredibly close. Miscarriage. Five months of worry and sleepless nights and emotion after our second baby was born. Trying to rewrite the trajectory of our family and build a legacy of covenant and commitment for our children. Jason’s accident and our subsequent grappling with the brevity of life, the lasting impact of split second moments, and the sovereignty of God that creates perspective and wonder about the future and His plans for our lives.
This side of eternity, we just can’t see all of the things. It isn’t possible. And unless we allow ourselves to be brought to a place where we lean so hard on God that His peace and joy break through, we feel the weight of this world, no matter our position. We carry guilt that God never intended us to carry. We remain prisoners of our own circumstances, convinced we are the ones who have to find every answer, convinced we have to be miserable or lonely or without hope. I’m here to tell you that we don’t. We can’t possibly. And there is more peace than we could ever need or ask for when we seek God, who is generous and attentive and tangible and real.
I am a stay at home mom because this is the call that God has placed on my life for this moment, in this season. He has other things for me, too, and He’s revealing them all the more as I try to rest in His presence in my current role and circumstance. Life is not peaceful, and the world is certainly waiting to steal away our joy if we let it. So is guilt. LET’S NOT LET THEM. We are warriors, and whatever it is that we are called to in the here and now, it’s our job to do it and to do it well. God empowers us in our calling, and He gives us what we need for each day, offering a fresh start every single morning. We can’t feel guilty about any of that, and we sure can’t afford to waste it.
I will intentionally say NO to guilt in 2015. I will make the days count. I will own my stay-at-home motherhood and thank God for what He has called me to, even when it feels crazy-hard.
i’m praying peace over the contents of your day today, and asking God for joy on your behalf. i pray you find it in the greatest and smallest things as you say NO to guilt and YES to your highest calling.