“A mother lives with grief every day of her life. Grief that her baby is growing up and won’t need her anymore. Grief over mistakes. Grief that time can’t be bought back.” -Emory Chance from Mary DeMuth’s novel A Slow Burn
Emory Chance called it grief. Some people call it guilt. I couldn’t sleep the other night because I was thinking of all the ways I could be mothering better. My good mom checklist was full of to-do’s and not one of them was checked off. I have a terrible habit of taking on too much responsibility. And of being a tad dramatic.
Shame rolls ’round and ’round my heart and head every day of my life. I would rather call it guilt because it doesn’t sound as embarrassing, but really I think it goes deeper. Guilt can be a good thing, a God-reminder when things aren’t right and an opportunity to change them. Shame is what happens when we let guilt fester and sink deeper and don’t deal with it. Shame seeps into our skin when we aren’t looking and takes our spirit hostage. And then she sits down heavy and masks herself as us so we can’t tell the difference between the two.
Shame waits until my defenses are down on a sleepless night and then begins to whisper doubt: Maybe you’re not doing enough. Maybe you’re not cut out for this. Maybe you’re messing them up.
And in that place, I have a choice. I can believe the dark suggestions that it is up to me to get it right on my own. Or I can trust that I was made in His image for such a time as this, to parent these He has given, and to receive grace and mercy from His hand.
(This post title is from Alan D. Wright’s book, Shame Off You: Overthrowing the Tyrant Within).