Tag Archive | regret

Guilt Extinguisher


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.

I regret it.

Jesus hugging a teen
Did you ever say something that was taken the wrong way? Last Saturday, I unintentionally hurt someone I care about.

I managed to make a gifted artist feel discouraged by asking one simple question. Ryan Jackson is the illustrator for a new picture book I wrote. He studied under Chris Van Allsburg, the author and illustrator of award-winning children’s books such as The Polar Express, and Jumanji. So, it’s not surprising that Ryan’s illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful. When my husband first saw Ryan’s work, he literally was knocked off his feet. Howie had to lie down.

Ryan has almost completed all the pictures for our book. Howie and I met Ryan and our graphics designer for some last minute planning. At that meeting, I casually asked, “How hard would it be to change Beth’s hair color?” Since Beth is the central character, she’s in every scene.

That one impulsive inquiry caused Ryan to feel as though I wasn’t happy with his work. Which couldn’t be farther from the truth! The poor young father of three darling little girls has been working through the nights to meet our April deadline. Along I come with a comment which sounds like criticism.

In tears, I apologized.

Saturday must have been the day for accidental misunderstandings. Howie casually reminded our son that it was daylight saving time…time to move clocks ahead an hour. Chris mistook Howie’s reminder as a lack of respect. He was insulted and angry.

Ever since Chris became a teenager, he hated hearing advice from us. Now that he’s 32 yrs. old, he resents it even more. More than anything, Chris would love to own a home rather than live with us. While he saves money toward that goal, he endures living under our roof.

Is it possible to stop parenting? Maybe when a child turns 18, goes to college, enters the military, or gets married, it’s possible. Painful, but possible. Young parents know a day will come when their children will no longer need them. The days of nurturing and providing will end.

A friend once said, “Parenting is demanding. When children are toddlers, it’s physically demanding. During their elementary school years, it’s mentally demanding (helping with homework). Along come those turbulent teenage years and it’s emotionally demanding. Finally, when they become adults, it’s spiritually demanding (as you pray for their bigger needs).”

But, how can a mom stop parenting a child with serious mental illness (MI)? Affection, once happily received, is suddenly rejected. A teenager with MI recoils at a loving touch. Encouraging words once restored joy to a sad child. But, sadness has become depression and loving encouragement doesn’t soothe emotional pain.

We need to find different ways of showing our love. It’s not giving up parenting…it’s giving our parenting up to God. We seek Him in earnest. Our prayers become deeper and more heartfelt. We commit our child’s thoughts and emotions to God who is able to do exceedingly abundantly more than we ask.

The One who died so that we might be forgiven, is there to help us each day. Because He lives, we can face tomorrow.