Dear Mother: On Shame and Who Loves First
Last week I gave up.
Many nights I go to bed and stay awake to the dark. I hate shame, yet I use it for covers and writhe underneath at all the things I know I should be doing better. I have to teach my boys the Bible; I’m not homeschooling Isaac well at all; I lose my temper; I think I might be pregnant with my 5th child (not shameful, just terrifying); I don’t feed them veggies; I can have 50 quiet times and still not meet with God – and these are just the things on the surface. I make vows, try to love more, and then I ruin it again, and the shame beats harder. I have tried harder and harder and harder. I can’t be dramatic enough about it here. Shame erases hope.
So last week I gave up on shame, or at least I made the first steps in trying. I woke knowing it was registration day for Fall kindergarten students. I gathered the needed paperwork, not just for my 5 year old, but also for my home-schooled first grader. I prayed and I cried, and I asked for signs. I asked for help in laying it down. I registered them both, and my oldest started 1st grade on Monday.
I stared at the clock the entire time he was there, and I was almost first in the car pick-up line. We made eye contact, and his smile was as wide as my dashboard. I asked him if he loved well, and he said he asked a boy to play with him, the one the others had called weird. He made friends. He loved his math and running at recess. Those public school tests that I loathe, they were this week. He thinks he did well and really didn’t raise an eyebrow at them at all, while I secretly died to even smell a school hallway, much less hear the word “scantron.”
I reckon it’s all going to be okay without my checklists. How can I mother well by showing them the hopeless weight of the world breaking my back? How can I show them how loved they are if I don’t live out how loved I am? I have been called to some things and not to others. Our callings are different. But I know we’re all called to be free from shame.
My boy has Holy Spirit, so I let him go with Him. God whispers to me over and over again, “You only love because I first loved you.” There’s no undoing or getting better for us. He already loves. He loved before my story began.
It turns out that I’m not pregnant, but even in that, in my untrusting fear, He whispered. It turns out that I commit the same sins over and over again, and even in that, He is there. Where can you go, Mother, that He isn’t there?
It turns out that all He ever asks of me is that I believe that he loves me, and even when I don’t, He’s there. God can handle our doubt.
Lay it all on Him.
Dancing in a semi-clean kitchen (Glory!),
So obviously, this isn’t about whether or not to homeschool. I would choose homeschool myself, but I believe with all my heart that God chose differently for me. He’s asked me to do other things right now and continues to confirm to me that, for now, this is where He wants us.
This post is about shame and how mothers can tend to wallow in it. I would love hear some of the things you’ve laid down before, whether or not you’re a Mama. I’d love to even hear that you know what it is you need to lay down to get rid of the shame.
Also, if you haven’t yet, follow Mother Letters on Facebook. I think we’re about to start a group there to encourage one another in this motherhood journey. We’ll let you know there when it gets started, and we’ll want you to jump into that conversation. I need the encouragement and sometimes just to touch base with another Mama.