Redeeming Guilt

Illustration of a woman with her back against a closet door, trying to keep it closed while the vertical word guilt and many smal bunnies try to push through
Guy Francis

I stood in the kitchen slicing cucumbers when my 10-year-old son, Nathan, entered, eyes bright.

“Mom, guess what. Colter got four rabbits, and he’s part of a rabbit club. He said I could join and that rabbits don’t cost much money.”

“A rabbit club, huh?”

Rabbits are cute . . . and caring for one would teach responsibility, I told myself.

But the other part of me—the realistic part—quickly interrupted. What are you going to cut out in order to add that club to your schedule?


My husband and I have discussed our family’s activities many times, and we’ve agreed on where to place our focus: home schooling, one extracurricular activity per child each year, family meals, church service and bedtime devotions.

I took a deep breath. “I’m afraid that won’t work, Nathan. You already chose to play soccer this year.”

My heart ached when Nathan slumped away, disappointed. Logically, my decision made sense, but I couldn’t get over the feeling that I was a bad mom. Other guilty thoughts joined in the party. Colter’s mom has a garden. Caleb’s mom plays video games with him. Dakota’s mom cooks amazing meals every night. . . .

Good works

Guilt is a common emotion among mothers—whether our kids are 17 days or 17 years old. Sometimes guilt comes when we compare ourselves to other mothers. Other times it comes from an ideal we’ve dreamed up.

One of the best ways to slam the door on guilt is to realize we compare our weaknesses with someone else’s strengths. The best guilt buster is to focus on what we do best and humbly build on that.

I love Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

This verse reminds me that God made me with specific talents. By inviting Jesus to work through me in my parenting role, I will do good works—not identical to other moms, but good works all the same.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2010 issue of Thriving Family magazine. If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. Get it delivered to your home by subscribing for a gift of any amount.

Copyright © 2010 by Tricia Goyer. Used by permission.

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