Think about your family for a minute- your kids, your parents and extended family. How would you describe your family dynamic? When I think about my family, a smile always comes across my face. We’re kind of a rambunctious bunch. Most of my mom’s family still lives in mountainous West Virginia, and I have vivid memories of wild go-cart races, crazy games of tag in the woods, incredibly loud cookouts and LOTS of bleeding and bruising from all the daredevil games we’d make up on my grandparent’s sprawling property. The word “sweet” wouldn’t be the first thing that comes to mind when I think of me and my cousins.
So I completely get where Jen Hatmaker is coming from in her “Hope for Spicy Families” post. Jen often compares—and thus worries—when her “spicy” family doesn’t quite seem as “sweet” as another.
We are a spicy people. We love obnoxious humor and sarcasm and we are very, very loud. The lot of us suffers from Big Feelings About All The Things, which makes us a passionate, emotional bunch. We don’t really do gentle. We don’t actually know what that means. (My girlfriend Laura has the exact same family dynamic, and I die laughing every time she tells me her “kids are doomed.”)
So any time I am around a sweet family for a while, I have a crisis. It simmers until a comment from one of their children to another – “Sister? Would you like the last brownie? I want you to have it since you did all my chores for me as a surprise for my half birthday…” – launches me into a watershed moment.
I love Jen’s honesty here. How often do we compare ourselves and our children to other families? Social media makes the comparison game all the more prominent—all it takes is clicking through one “Family Summer Vacation!” album on Facebook to make us feel like our lives don’t quite measure up. Suddenly, shame and guilt set in and we wonder how we let our families get so out of control.
Nicki Koziarz touches on this guilty feeling in her article, “Mom Guilt.” After her sweet daughter is caught telling a lie, Nicki wrestled with guilt—blaming herself for her daughter’s sin.
I needed someone to blame and so I choose myself. But I also realized something important- I had a lot of momma guilt with Kennedy’s behavior.
Motherhood has brought many challenges; sleepless nights, ungrateful attitudes, hard work, endless loads of laundry and so much more. But as a mom I often carry around this great weight of wondering if I am really doing anything right in raising my kids.
Both Nicki and Jen write that through wrestling with these “mommy guilt” moments, they’ve been able to see God’s redemptive truth for their families.
One of my favorite truths from Scripture is that condemnation is a trick of the enemy, not the language of the heavens. Shame is not the rhetoric of redemption, so if we are a slave to it, we have moved outside the protective covering of mercy, Jen writes.
Nicki shares a similar thought. I know my 3 daughters will continue to do things that frustrate me and even break my heart as a mom. And I do need to have plans, ideas and creative parenting skills for each of them. But I won’t believe the lie that because my kids are normal, flawed beings I’m a bad mom. Today I hope you won’t either.
In an age when it’s so easy to post updates or share only our best sides to others, remember this: don’t compare your behind-the-scenes life to other person's highlight reel.
Kelly Givens is the editor of iBelieve.com.