And then I picked up Sally Clarkson's Season's of a Mother's Heart. I wish I knew that lady personally. She inspires and encourages and convicts every time.
When I read the chapter title, "Freedom from Guilt," I was looking forward to receiving help in dealing with the guilt I was feeling over my poor parenting and house keeping. What I got was even better.
Sally wasn't talking about freedom from the conviction of the Holy Spirit over things we, as mothers, are actually doing wrong. She was talking about freedom from the guilt brought about by other people's standards, judgements, comments, criticisms, ideas, methods, books, tapes, teachings. . .
All week I had been beating myself up, pounding my head, wracking my brain trying to figure out how to correct all these wrongs that these particular people found in my parenting and housekeeping. *All*week*! And it was a waste of time. For all the problems that they were able to point out to me were merely man-made standards and opinions. Not one thing was an actual sin or step out of line with the Word of God.
As moms, wives, homemakers, women. . . there is only one infallible source of information, one perfect how-to book on our jobs -- The Bible. We need only read that, pray for guidance, be open to the leading and direction of the Holy Spirit, and step out in faith to what we think God would have us do in every situation. Advice, self-help books, and seminars are all good and wonderful in their place, but they are not the the Inspired Word of God or, necessarily, the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
When we allow the opinions and judgements and criticisms and advice of others send us into an emotional whirlwind of self-critique, we essentially push God off the throne of our lives and put some imperfect human up in His place. Is this really what we think is best? Is this really what we want to set up as a standard for how we run our homes -- human imperfection? Not me, I want to follow God, not a relative or author or good friend. And it is deplorable when we try to set our standard up to others as the mark of perfection that they should try to reach. We can share how we do things, but we must realize that we were never appointed to be God to anyone.
I encourage you to read these Scriptures, referenced in Sally's book, and ask yourself some serious questions:
- How are you treating the other moms in your life? Are you serving and encouraging them; or are you biting, devouring, and consuming them?
- Does the Bible contain all you need to be a godly wife, mother, and homemaker?
- Are you proud of your ability to raise well-behaved children, maintain a loving marriage, or keep a clean and organized house?
- Do you feel that you are in competition with other women?
- Or do you feel jealous or envious of any particular mom or wife or homemaker?
- Do you feel you are not measuring up to someone's standards of good wife, good mother, or good homemaker? Is someone else condemning you or sending you into a self-condemnation spree?
- How much stock are you placing in "human commands and teachings"? Is your faith in man becoming greater than your faith in God's Word and the Holy Spirit's guidance?
- Do you see your judgement of other women as stumbling blocks in their lives? How can your criticisms and judgements cause other women to stumble in their faith or hinder their relationship with God?
- Before you offer advice, do you think about how necessary that advice is? Do you weigh the pros and cons of offering the advice? Do you see how there could, in fact, be cons to offering corrective criticism or opinions sometimes?
- Is your judgement of other women, perhaps, based on your own self-doubts?
- Do you feel that you are under condemnation or that you are condemning others?
- What does God have to say to you about any and all condemnation that you are under, whether warranted or not, whether self-induced or brought by the judgements of others?