The Gift of Self-Compassion
I’ve come a long way in my parenting.
For most of us, becoming our “best self” in parenting takes time. For me it took years. I had to learn from my mistakes. I experienced healing from my own life wounds. I leaned into God. The healing journey was at times excruciating, and at other times, nothing short of glorious.
Because of God’s healing and transforming work, I am a much different parent than I was 10 years ago. So this week, I was shocked that in a moment of stress, I let frustration get the best of me. It went beyond your typical “mom’s having a bad day” reaction. It was uncalled for.
I felt so much guilt over this encounter with my kids too. I apologized to them. I apologized to God. Yet, throughout the day I could not shake the condemnation and shame I was feeling for reacting so strongly to my kids.
Then God revealed that I was struggling to forgive myself. I was not affording myself the same compassion and understanding I would to any other mom who had messed up in a similar fashion. Offering grace to another human being is a beautiful thing. Why do we withhold it from ourselves?
I’ve come to believe that one of the most beautiful gifts we can give ourselves as moms is self-compassion. How do we treat ourselves when we mess up? This may be hard to hear, but when we beat ourselves up, we are partnering with the enemy, who is intent on paralyzing us with shame, condemnation or fear. These are fruits of the kingdom of darkness, not of our Father’s Kingdom.
In scripture, we are told to be quick to forgive (Colossians 3:13). Have we considered that this includes not only other people, but ourselves as well? For me, it is so much easier to forgive others. I’ve had to dig deep with the Lord to understand the reasons for this.
The Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). When we sin, his Holy Spirit convicts us and brings us into alignment with righteousness. This results in peace and joy. As mothers, we have the great privilege of modeling this kind of kingdom to our children. They will see how we respond to our failures. When we can extend grace to ourselves and accept ourselves, in all of our humanity, our kids will learn to do the same. And that, fellow mamas, is a beautiful thing.
The best thing you can do when you feel shame or condemnation is invite Jesus into your struggle. Satan’s primary tactic is to use shame to break your connection with Jesus. What did Adam and Eve do in the garden when they felt shame? They hid. Freedom comes when we let Jesus in to minister to us with his truth and his healing.
Here is a tool that you can use the next time you are struggling with guilt , fear, or condemnation. I encourage you to write these questions on a 3 x 5 card and keep it in your Bible or journal. Allow adequate time for Jesus to do a healing work in you as you process these questions with him.
1. Jesus, why do I feel ____________________________? (Examples: shame,
guilt, condemnation, self-rejection, self-hatred, fear)
Quiet your heart and let him speak to you.
2. When did this take root in my life?
He may reveal to you a memory or a lie.
3. Ask him to show you what is true.
Listen, and write this down.
4. Ask him what he would like you to do next?
Examples: He may show you how he wants you to release self-rejection; he
may ask you to repent for partnering with condemnation; he may ask you to forgive someone in your life who played a role in your struggle with shame.
Holli is a wife and homeschooling mom to Lydia (13) and Sofia (11). She is passionate about equipping others to encounter God in prayer and to learn to hear his voice. She loves the mountains, the ocean, blue skies, and sunny days (which is why she enjoys taking frequent vacations in the winter ☺). She lives with her family in Maple Grove, MN.