Church of England & Ministry Curate's Life Ministry Mum Sermons & Scripture

More on Marriage, Motherhood & Ministry // The guilt factor


Ok so this one isn’t just about being in ministry, I think it’s common for many Mums, and probably Dads too, but why do we, as working Mums, feel so damn guilty all the time? Guilty about not getting enough work done, guilty about not spending enough time with the kids, guilty about not fitting in a date night, guilty about not helping with the school PTA, guilty about not doing the housework, guilty about using Amazon and not going to the High Street, guilty about having to take time off when a child is ill, guilty about taking time off when we are ill, guilty about taking 5 mins for a cup of tea in a long day, guilty about wanting to have some time to ourself, guilty about not wanting to spend that time with our husband/wife/child, guilty about not going to child’s rugby match, guilty about paying for childcare, guilty that we aren’t f**ing perfect…?

I mean listen, this is not the 1950s, it’s ok that we, as women, go out to *whispers* work. As much as some of the older generation may at times question it, it really is not a big deal. We are not expected to swan around at home in a perfectly pressed, and home-made day dress, whilst scrubbing the floor, darning socks and making jam that will keep us going all year. This is the 21st century and society, largely but let’s not dwell on that here, has accepted, even embraced and welcomed women in the workplace…

But often I think it’s us that hasn’t quite embraced it. I mean many women work as many, if not more, hours in paid employment than their husbands. So for example in this house, everything around the house is shared, from housework to shopping, to kids school runs and playdates, Christmas planning, and my husband cooked Christmas lunch last week because, of course, I am working. We haven’t got the balance right, we’re transitioning from me working part time, where we still shared the home admin but I did more as I was at home more. Now it’s all shared and we are trying to get the right balance. However I still find myself feeling guilty when I haven’t got the time to do something I used to do, or that my kids would like me to do. I feel guilty when my husband does the ironing or goes to Tesco late at night because there is no food in the house. Why do I feel so frikin’ guilty? It’s no more my fault than his that we have no food, and 99% of the ironing is his shirts anyway!

My husband is a total love and said to me he loves that I work, and I quote ‘you have proper cojones‘ which is a total compliment but I’d like to point out he means metaphorically… 😉 but still the guilt is there. I mean last year alone I have missed my Brother in Laws 40th birthday do, a family get together, had to organise my kids birthday parties around work weekends, finished the Christmas shopping with one day to spare and that’s just a few things.

But here’s the thing, we are our own worst enemies. I think guilt is about 2 things: fear and condemning ourselves which in itself about identity.

So, fear… what are we so afraid of? are we worried what people think of us if we don’t volunteer for the local community charity in our spare time? or whether our kids will turn out as delinquents because we didn’t make them home made organic humous? or that our marriage may fail because we’ve not cleaned the toilet for 3 weeks? Seriously what are we so afraid of? I’m not saying let’s ignore our kids but we survived eating additives and shed loads of sugar before humous was even an odour in the air of middle England didn’t we? We stayed out late playing in the road not giving our parents a spare thought before it was essential to spend “intentional family time together”; sometimes we just need a bit of perspective. And that is where identity comes in – we need to know, truly know, who we are. And that is we are all daughters of the king. THE king. We are adopted into his family, as we are, warts and all. And He just loves us…

1 John 4:16-18 says this:

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

So, we are loved and we need not fear because we are filled with God’s love. As this says, fear is to do with punishment – interesting – are we punishing ourselves? for not being perfect?

The bible also says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). So if God does not condemn us, why do we condemn ourselves? For those of us in ministry, do we not feel called to this? Did we not feel an urge to do this, a calling we could not ignore? If God has called us to this then he is with us in it. He is the author of time (a fact I remind myself of daily!) we can trust him with all we have to do and know that he is in it.

So come on sisters! We are 21st Century women, let’s be strong, be confident, and let’s not fear, let’s not feel guilty. What the heck, spend intentional time with our family, eat organic humous, do the ironing if you want, and if not I dare you to put your feet up for at least half an hour, watch crap on the TV, eat cake and be ok with it! And in that let’s just recognise who we are and who God has made us to be…

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    January 2, 2017 at 8:33 am

    It’s interesting to contemplate the role of Mothers today and perhaps that of those who had children 60 or 70 or so years ago.

    Most mothers were expected to stay at home and look after home and children, they also were often the main cleaner, washerwoman and defacto mother and father, as fathers were often absent, some off fighting wars (not of their making) or even working away in heavy industry on war work or just simply being unable to find paid work local to home. (in that not a lot hasn’t changed, many fathers and mothers live a week of work and weekends with family, many miles apart) I experienced this in my Army Career, and doubtless thousands of service families are going through the same. Living on the patch means separation of spouses and children from support networks in the local community, so families buy a house and settle the family, than endure years of separation due to their circumstances.

    For you, as a stipendiary curate, have had to upsticks and move away from your home, to a new town and parish, and the sojourn there is probably around 3-4 years, before you will have to move again. A bit like service life, without the turbulence, as they can often move every two years.

    The guilt thing isn’t new – I when separated from my family, missed them, and felt guilty about that, I felt guilty about not sharing the load of raising the children (my Ex once said that she had raised the children alone?) but I was following the flag so to speak, and had little choice in how my career developed and postings came along. And in service training often took me away for several months a year, let alone deployments on exercise or training at least once a month.

    As an absent parent, I had the consolation of phone calls and snail mail – nowadays, at least technology has advanced enough to allow more regular contact via skype and messenger services (that of course depends on broadband and wifi – not always regular available overseas).

    For you in ministry, you have your family with you, not ideal in a busy work-life balancing act, but the support you describe from your spouse, is a wonderful thing to hear. And his recognition of your call to ministry from the outset must have been a boost to your confidence and state of mind as you went through the modular training package that you endured, along with the injury and illness that you also endured.

    The perseverance you have displayed and continue to display is admirable, and if we compare our circumstances to those, who are not so fortunate, we have much to thank God for – I most certainly do – and doubtless so do you.

    Going back to the comparison with 60-70 years ago, poverty and deprivation marred my childhood, as did time in care when our parents separation and divorces left my father ill and destitute. He couldn’t raise 3 young children under six and continue to work, so we were removed from the environment for nearly six years – we returned to a stranger, and a situation 10 times worse than it had been in care. Many of today’s children also are in residential or foster care, and their futures are in real jeopardy – care leavers are among those most vulnerable to the social ills of poor educational attainment, drugs and addictions, and crime. At any one time, a high percentage of the prison population is from those who’ve been in care.

    The point I suppose from my perspective, is that there is so much work to be done – and so few hands available – and your call to Ministry seems to me to be about that. Meeting those in need and ministering to it – what else is the Church for, but that. It’s not a club or clique for the worthy – it should and must become the place of safety for those who need them and the path to salvation for all, just as important. And you are an important cog in that machine.

    I pray that your feeling of guilt will reduce as your cement your ministry in the next year or so.

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