It was my first year teaching and already I felt like a failure. Every time I asked my supervisor for something, she denied my request. Each time I suggested an activity for my multi-handicapped students, she shot it down. “No,” was all I heard from her. Never any positive feedback. Only negative remarks.
I’m a rotten teacher. I thought I was well-trained. Obviously not. When am I going to figure this out?
I felt so inadequate.
After two years I got reassigned to a different unit. My new supervisor praised me often and supported all my ideas. Fellow teachers elected me to be their faculty representative. That’s when I realized I wasn’t a failure as a teacher. For two years I had accepted the lie my former boss had inflicted on me.
Some of us do the same to ourselves. Mental illness (MI) masks our efforts. Our child’s illness demands more from us than other children. Mothers of healthy kids enjoy seeing the fruit of their labors. Not us. So we assume we’re doing something wrong. Guilt contaminates our self-evaluation as a parent.
My child’s not getting better. I must be missing something. There must be more I should be doing.
Sometimes the smoldering guilt leads to searing shame of imagined past infractions.
Why didn’t I see this coming? I should have recognized the warning signs and gotten him help sooner. What did I do wrong?
Have you beat yourself up lately? Are you carrying around bags full of shame, as if on an endless guilt trip? Don’t get discouraged if you’re trying as hard as you can, but don’t yet see results.
The outcome doesn’t necessarily correlate to effort.
If our efforts can’t always improve our child’s state of mind or emotions, they do they matter? To God they absolutely matter! He alone sees all we do. He alone knows how long we’ve endured in the midst of our own sorrow.
Many moms raising a child with MI don’t get encouragement, acknowledgement, or praise. In the absence of positive feedback, feelings of inadequacy and guilt can creep in. What can eradicate needless guilt? Seeing ourselves as God sees us.
I think it helps to focus on what pleases God. To reflect on things that delight Him. The next time you’re tempted to feel lousy as a parent, study this list. Consider how much God is pleased with you.
God delights in:
You being His child: “For the Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with victory” (Psalm 149:4).
Your well-being: “May all who gloat over my distress be put to shame and confusion; may all who exalt themselves over me be clothed with shame and disgrace. May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, ‘The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant’” (Psalm 35:26-27).
God desired that David’s troubles would cease, and that he would enjoy a time of rest and tranquility. Our unchanging Father desires the same for you and your child.
Your hope in His unfailing love: “The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11).
Your prayers: “The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases him” (Proverbs 15:8).
A gentile and quiet spirit: “Let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” [1 Peter 3:4 (NKJV]).
The righteous that walk faithfully with God: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God” (Genesis 6:8-9).
Showing His kindness, justice, and righteousness: “‘Let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I ‘delight,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:24).
MI can be fertile ground for seeds of needless shame. Left unchecked, weeds of guilt can stifle healthy spiritual growth. The next time your mind is infested with thoughts of parental inferiority, focus on God.
Psalm 37:4 tells us that God wants us to delight in Him.
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”
The Destroyer of sin and death can eliminate your feelings of guilt. And replace them with an assurance of His unconditional love for you.