I’m not sure I can take one more mommy guilt trip. Interestingly, it’s not coming from my husband, my kids, or my friends. But through other “gospel-centered” mommas.
Here’s the most recent example from the Gospel-centered Mom: How to Enjoy Every Moment When Not Every Moment is Enjoyable. She says:
“If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:10-11)
Moms don’t have to go far to find those who are hungry and afflicted. Do we think of meeting their needs as “pouring ourselves out” for them? It’s the opposite of holding the unpleasant stage at arms distance. It’s fully embracing it.
Our children are probably not “hungry”, neither are they “afflicted”. My dear moms, you are doing an incredible important work when you are at home with your babies, but you are not doing this kind of work that Isaiah is talking about. Please friends, let’s not co-op Bible passages to sooth ourselves.
By the end of the article, she’s telling us that we’re supposed to be content during the season of having postpartum depression. I’m sorry, but this is where my patience with this line of thinking ends.
Should we try to remember the bright parts of our day? Yes.
Should we try to cherish these moments with our kids? Yes.
Should we do our best to be parents (ahem, not just moms) who live less and less selfish lives in order to make sure our kids are loved, cherished, and poured into? Yes, Yes, Yes.
Should we aim for contentment? I think so.
But when we are NOT content, do we need to guilt ourselves and one another? No, we don’t. We can come alongside and encourage one another. And by golly, let’s give each other some breaks! Let’s just not offer: “suck it up sister, God wants you to change your own heart and put a happy smile on your face in the middle of emotionally draining days.” How exhausting is that? Instead, grab her kids, bring them to your house for a day and let her just sit on her couch or whatever her little heart desires. (Sidenote: someone did this for me the other week when I was sick and it revived my body and soul so much. I cried a little because I was taken aback with her love, and then I felt guilty for about an hour, but then settled into this gift and said, “Thank you, Jesus!”)
In the article (and in other books and articles I’ve read recently), she says that each of these moments, no matter how awful, is given to us by God. That’s not how I read Scripture. I read it that every good and perfect gift comes from God, and that He won’t give us a snake when we ask him for bread. There’s another force in this world, my dear friends, so let’s not be tricked that what is fallen or sinful or evil is a gift from God. It’s not. And some of the things we’re dealing with on a daily basis is exactly those things.
The gospel is about grace, and about loving God and loving people and loving ourselves. There’s not a SINGLE WORK that I can do that is going to make myself more loved by God. HE LOVES US SO MUCH IN OUR LONG DAYS. Go cry yourself a river. Go take a long run. Go complain to your husband or friend or whoever is “that person” in your life (and then allow them to complain back about their job). Eat a chocolate bar in the pantry while playing hide and seek with your kids. Tell God that you are “so over this mom business and are going to go crazy.” My dear friend, whatever you do, don’t pretend you are in a place you’re not. Don’t feel guilty over wishing your postpartum depression is over. I think God so desires your postpartum depression to be over too. Don’t feel bad for wishing you were through the baby is not sleeping stage, because God created us with a need for sleep, and I think that He will be happy for you when that stage is over too.
He is not shaking His finger at us, but instead He is with us at every. single. point of those hard stinkin’ days and seasons. Love you, sweet momma.