A Study of Chains, Day 3: The Chains of Mother Guilt

My Ian is his own best friend and can spend hours building lego pirate ships without even considering that he’s alone. If I’m sitting near him, his mouth rattles on the entire time, and mostly it’s nonsense story-telling, “Mama? What if a dragon and a opossum became friends and knocked on our door and asked for peanut butter and jelly? Wouldn’t that be funny? And we could cut their hairs and play hide and seek and …” It never stops, and to tune into his world helps me see how his brain spats about, how it bounces around while his hands work. I often respond, with a yeah here and there, but the truth is that I don’t listen to him very much at all.

He has always been so patient to ask again and again for a drink. He never loses his temper when I tune him out; in fact, he’s not ever bothered by much at all. Once he mentioned that his ear hurt, and then 45 minutes later, blood was draining from his ear! He’s tough, and I’ve come to believe that he could be covered in mud for days and not mind it at all.

A few nights ago I engaged myself in a tale spin until 2:30 AM. I lay as still as I could muster, trying to sleep, but I played through the list, how precious are Ian’s big brown eyes, and what a big man he’s going to be one day; how I want to stop and listen to him, just for once; how I should have have had the house clean when Seth got home from work; and how I’m so hard on my oldest, even though he’s so good and bright. Finally I called myself negligent, the mother/wife-guilt threatening to swallow me whole. If I come out of this study of chains, if I come out free, I’ll most certainly have a limp.

My girlfriends yesterday said that we were never told to serve anyone but Jesus, and that really was news to me. I second-guessed it for hours. Am I not to serve my husband and my children, my community and the poor? I divide my life into who I can give it to, thinking this is my service, what makes me look like Jesus, a good girl. Really the command is simpler than that.

She sent this verse to me in a text, and I read it again and again. Then Ian asks for a drink. Grab the cup in servitude to the One who abides in the deep room of my heart, and I fill the cup with water and gladness. I feel love swell toward my child in this way, and I mother forward and give instructions to clean off the table, but he doesn’t listen because he’s talking. I see the metaphor, how I need to listen more, how well I am loved.

I am not a prisoner of my children. They do not keep me in chains and bark at me for drinks as my masters. I am a prisoner of Christ. I am His alone. Knowing who I am, my Christ-Esteem, it opens my ears and my hands to love those around me. It pours me thick with joy. I can hear when I’m listening to that One voice.

Shirk the Mother Guilt. Take off that chain, oozing with such restless lies. Freedom is in serving Christ alone.

There’s a freedom I hear about that I just don’t always recognize in my life. I long to be free so much that maybe I’ve built a habit of feigning it. I would love it if you would like to join me in exploring this path to true freedom, A Study of Chains in 31 Days. You can follow along on Facebook or subscribe to these posts by email or in a reader. {Thank you so much, by the way, for walking with me.} Are you ready to shirk these chains?

About me


Where Healing Begins: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Sarah Jo Burch
November 23, 2015
When Home Is Within: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Mandy Mianecki
November 02, 2015
Dear Seth: A Marriage Letter on Your Sobriety and What it Looks Like to Come Clean
October 27, 2015
Learning to Bend: A Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Diana Trautwein
September 14, 2015
What I Knew In My Dying Day: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post by Tara Owens
August 19, 2015
Condemnation on the Molehill
June 08, 2015
Tools for the Highly Sensitive Mother: An Introduction
April 27, 2015
The Uncouth: The Hormonal
May 12, 2014
What Mothers Me
April 01, 2014


Jen @ Martymom's Musings
Reply October 3, 2012

Amen! I needed this, as I often feel the same and sometimes have to be brought back to a memory of a dear friend reminding me to "do the laundry for Jesus." When I change my thinking this way it feels different. Now if I just did not need to keep reminding myself over and over again.


Brandee Shafer
Reply October 3, 2012

Such wisdom. Thank you.

Reply October 3, 2012

head knowledge - check
daily, momentary application - uhh??


I will practice this, until my muscles and mind memorize it.

Reply October 3, 2012

I do the same, wrestle with my guilt until I finally fall asleep. Doing all for Him includes the way we serve the cold water and listen to the Lego stories. Yes. This is a beautiful and freeing post Amber.

the Blah Blah Blahger
Reply October 3, 2012

That gave me chills!

I love that when serving the Lord fully, we are more present, loving, and serving to those around us. Fabulous reminder!

Reply October 3, 2012

This is so powerful, Amber. I love these chains being broken as we call 'em for what they are. Guilt and the mama guilt I know so well cause us to believe the chains are these people to us, their demands pulling on us with jangling, heavy metal...and our inability to get it all right, give what's needed. I love this turning to look at the chains and declare the only one to whom we are to be truly chained. The one from whom comes all love and grace.

Reply October 3, 2012

Oh this made me cry. I feel so much of the time like I'm failing my kids. This is a shift in perspective.

Reply October 3, 2012

Ok seriously. You bless, over and over. Thanks for these reminders.

Tanya Marlow
Reply October 3, 2012

I am having a day where I am spiritually thirsty. This quenched me - thank you.

Kelly @ Love Well
Reply October 3, 2012

These are the only kinds of chains that are really a metaphor for freedom. When we only have to worry about serving Christ, it frees us to serve others without expectation.

Beautiful post. (My 8-year-old talks incessantly too. I'm also guilty of tuning him out. I know that guilt.)

Reply October 3, 2012

I love you. You are such a gift to me.

Reply October 3, 2012

This helped me a lot today. But how about serving Him so it doesn't become another form of good girl striving?

    Reply October 5, 2012

    So Amber I am replying to myself because I have been pondering and sensing God's response those words of Jesus in Mk 10:45 that He didn't come to be served but serve. And I know that's it: open to receive all He is giving is first how I serve Him. Thank you for making me think and pray. X

Sarah Bessey
Reply October 3, 2012

You write me right to worship.

Reply October 3, 2012

Oh the chains. Invisible, put there by the fall and by our own hand. In a zombie-like state we turn the key and then hear a clanking around as we try to live until one day someone points out there are no chains there at all. I love this. <3

Jessica Y
Reply October 3, 2012

Oh, girl. I love ya. I'm so tired I can't even comment. It just resonated. Deep, deep.

Jessica Y
Reply October 3, 2012

I want to travel light. I want to unload these bricks. It's hard. I need renewal.
I need to remember who I am ,now. I have a precious new friend who reminds me often. Thankful for that.

Annie | annieathome
Reply October 3, 2012

How to drink this up, and remember, whatever I do to the least of these...

Diana Trautwein
Reply October 3, 2012

Oh, beautiful, Amber. And true, right down to the bottom.

Shelly Miller
Reply October 4, 2012

Oh the mother guilt. I've tossed and turned awake many nights. And your conclusion in the wrestling, its mine too. Now if I can remember it every day, not just on some days. Love to you.

Reply October 4, 2012

I never seem to get to comment here as much as I want to...you continue to challenge and bless me everyday, and have I said 'thank you' for that?

You said this so clearly, so succinctly, in a way my heart heard.

It inspired part of my post today. Love to you...

Reply October 4, 2012

Its true and what a great reminder for me today ... I do that good girl thing too. I think it has something to do with being in the church for a long time and forgetting what the bible says and just being religious. The bible is so refreshing .

Reply October 4, 2012

I need reminding if this truth so often- the battlefield of the mind- I am so quick to condemn/beat up on myself-and thus put myself back in chains- thanks for choosing this topic- it is reaching out around the globe to many who need a month of these posts to GET IT !! Mary, New Zealand.

Deb Weaver
Reply October 4, 2012

I appreciate your transparent journey of faith. Thank you for sharing.

Deb Weaver

Reply October 5, 2012

That was beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

Reply October 6, 2012

Thank you for this post. It has been my heart, just fresh, for the past 3 weeks. How I don't listen or pay attention. You gave me an even new perspective that I serve Christ alone. My children don't bark at me as their servant. Caring for and loving on them is serving Christ.

Reply September 16, 2015

What's up, everything is going perfectly here and ofcourse every one is sharing facts, that's genuinely fine, keep up writing.

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