Mom Guilt. Self-guilt. FALSE guilt.
I can’t fall asleep tonight until I get all of this out on “paper” because…call it whatever you will… this guilt has wreaked havoc on my day and my soul and I can’t help but think that there is another person out there tonight who needs to hear some of what God’s been telling me about this.
I also want to shatter any false notion that social media might have portrayed about me having this whole “living a life with chronic pain” thing figured out. I do not… I repeat, I DO NOT… have it figured out.
But I do have a God who is abundantly giving in both the areas of forgiveness and grace.
Let me give you a little backstory on how I spiraled into today. This past weekend we vacationed up in northern MI with my side of the family. We’re scattered throughout different states and we keep multiplying our offspring, so we rented a home on the water in order that we all could be together. During the course of trying to make good use of that waterfront access, I climbed (or rather crawled) over some pretty rocky terrain in order to then plop myself on a jet-ski, cozied up behind my husband, to take a little spin around the bay. (It’s important to note that part of my reasoning behind doing all this was out of GUILT that I had slept until noon that day because my body was tired and so I felt I needed to make up for that). We had a really fun time out on the water and I have no regrets about going.
But the next day, as my feet hit the floor, I felt a sharp pain in my ankle/heel. Shaking it off as “just nerve pain”, I strapped on my leg braces and limped about in the cute downtown area, filled with quaint little tourist shops.
The pain in my foot has persisted and it’s leading me to believe I strained a muscle in my foot while trying to get down the rocks and onto the jet ski. It’s frustrating because I was just attempting to do something “so normal” and I am paying for it in such a huge way.
It’s been painful to walk for two days now and the pain is starting to wear at me. I’ve spent the majority of today laying on the couch or in bed resting and sleeping, trying to give the muscle a chance to recover.
But it’s summer time and I have a six year old daughter at home that can’t fully comprehend why I need to take breaks. It’s frustrating to her that I’m always “resting”, which in turn exasperates my frustration with the situation even more. Even though it’s literally a perfect day out (the kind of day we wait 9 months to get here in WI), I find myself on the couch watching “Beethoven’s Christmas” out of desperation to “DO” something together with her. Once that’s over, we move on to crafts that I can do while laying down, but that only lasts so long. She’s restless. I’m restless. My foot is throbbing. My head is filled with so much pressure. Every complaint from her about “not knowing what to do” is like a hammer to my skull and I GET CRANKY. I get impatient. I get snappy.
And before I know it, my good friend GUILT is snuggled up all cozy next to me on the couch. “Why can’t you be like the moms you see on your instagram feed?” … “They’re taking their kids to the state fair on a beautiful day like this”…”You realize this is going to harm Promise FOREVER, don’t you?”…”You should get up and fight through the pain”… “That’s pretty pathetic that you can’t even enjoy a beach and sand without it causing you so much pain”… “If you had been able to have more kids, Promise would have someone to play with”… and on and on and on. All day the messages that guilt feeds me swirl and fester in my head.
I send my friend Dawn, a desperate text message asking if there’s any way she can pick up Promise for a few hours to play and she graciously and cheerfully obliges.
But guilt rages on. Guilt about sleeping…again. Guilt about not being at the park playing with them. Guild about not being up cooking dinner. GUILT ABOUT NOT BEING ENOUGH.
I’d like to say that when Promise returned home from playing, I had my attitude straightened out, but I didn’t. My pity party and self-induced guilt was RAGING and my cranky, selfish attitude continued. Only this time, Chris was blessed enough to be the beneficiary of it as well.
And that pretty much was my day. Pretty ugly, right?
But see friends, that’s where God steps in. I am so thankful for him and for his Holy Spirit nudging me. I’m so thankful that he doesn’t let me go to sleep without walking into Promise’s room, kissing her sleeping head and then apologizing to Chris for my cranky attitude.
As much as I hate that GUILT has controlled my day, I know that GRACE will redeem my day.
And while it’s tempting to let my physical pain be the excuse for being short, un-loving, selfish, and impatient with my family; the truth is that it is no excuse. I am human and sinful. I need to ask for forgiveness for those things, both from God and from my family.
Once I have that sorted out and taken care of, I can realize that there are also things that guilt has been telling me that I need to ask for forgiveness for that I actually don’t.
I don’t need to feel guilty that I needed a day of rest. I don’t need to feel guilty for climbing down rocks. I don’t need to feel guilty for watching a Christmas movie in August rather than going to the State Fair.
“God does not demand that we keep up with anyone else. God only asks us to be faithful with who we are [and what he’s given us]- with all our limitations…If we are accusing ourselves, we are outside of God’s will for us, for our Comforter wants us instead to find hope and wellness through grace. Whenever we are made to feel guilty about matters that are unrelated to our actual sinfulness, we know that this sense of blame does not come from God, but from the temptations of the accuser” – Marva Dawn in Being Well When We’re Ill
Tomorrow morning I will have to wake up Promise in order for us to drive an hour to see my podiatrist in IL. I know false guilt will want to buckle into the passenger seat for the drive down.
But I’m thankful for God’s grace. That his mercies will be new in the morning and that I can (through His strength) attempt to control my attitude, despite the pain that I cannot control.