By Miriam Rossow
I sat in the car, I drove, and I cried. I prayed. I wanted to know why this guilt and feeling was overtaking me. I did not get an answer. I did, however, feel a little relief. Crying and praying tend to bring relief!
I was feeling guilt and sadness from a decision that I/we had made for our family. And it seemed to be the right decision.
My daughter has always loved gymnastics. We started when she was just a toddler going to the mommy and me classes at the Little Gym in St. Louis. She was strong, flexible, and relatively fearless. I knew this was going to be something she would enjoy doing and be good at for many years. I also knew it took a lot of time and money to participate.
We had always been of the mind set that as our children grew we would not be over scheduled. I know as an educator that free play time to make believe, explore the world, and rest is very important to and for children. So having our kids in many activities was not going to be an option.
And as I continued to have children, this became more and more necessary for my sanity. I could not imagine lugging the 2 oldest to different activities while dragging the toddler and baby along as well.
The last couple of years we were more involved trying volleyball, cheer leading, Christmas pageants, cooking classes, Science Olympiad, swimming, and gymnastics! And that was just the kids activities!
All of these are wonderful things and very beneficial to the education and enrichment of my children. In fact, there are even more things that I would love for them to do and try. Being on teams and in productions and outside lessons teaches them to work with others, gives them self confidence, pushes them to do things they did not know were possible.
And it can makes our lives crazy and hectic and feel out of control!
So the time came for gymnastic evaluations in which my daughter who has had on and off again lessons would be placed in advanced classes, a star team, or a pre-team. The last two would involve practice twice a week, more money, and competitions. She was so excited!
She was placed on a star team for gymnastics, and so the decision had to be made. Were we ready to add not only the monetary commitment, but the time commitment to our family for this new thing?
Was it the best idea to allow our 7th grader to do this and then because it has a higher commitment not do the other things she was interested in during the last year? Could I be expected to drag my younger children to and from the gym 2-3 times a week?
As this happened, we also had the oldest transitioning into high school and getting excited about being involved in swim team and drama and I was starting a new job!
So the guilt starts!
We made the decision to slow the advancement of gymnastics down and place her in a higher class, but not on the team. She understood and was disappointed. And to be honest I felt sad and also guilty as well.
I felt guilty for not placing her as high as she could be placed. I felt guilty for not allowing her the highest experience in gymnastics possible. I felt guilty for not allowing her the experience she had wanted for so long and even worked hard to get. I even felt guilty for not giving my oldest an experience she didn’t really want so she would be better prepared for the experience she was having in swimming.
So much guilt!
How could this happen when I did not even believe in over scheduling kids? Where was this guilt coming from when I have always chosen to be less busy and when most of my friends believe this also?
I don’t have the answer, but I know it was consuming my feelings and thoughts. So much that when I took her to the first class I broke down in tears talking with another mom. As I left with an overwhelming feeling that I was disappointing and letting my child down, but knowing full well I did not want to be running around like a crazy women to make practices and meets happen nor did I believe she needed to spend all of her extra time doing only gymnastics, I cried!
I sat in the car, I drove, and I cried. I prayed.
The next morning I had some focused, intentional prayer time with a friend. One of the questions was is there something you are holding onto that Jesus is asking you to hand over? Is there a feeling you can place in His hands and release to Him and let Him do what He wants with it? Guilt.
He said give me your guilt. He said, ‘You are good mom.’ ‘You do not have to do everything.’ In fact, He took the guilt I placed in His hands and He chucked it! He threw it far so I would not have to think about it.
He said give me your guilt.
There is no place for this guilt in my life. There is no reason that I have to compare myself or my family to what others are choosing. There is no reason I have to compare my decisions to those of other families. I have to make the best decision for our family right now at this time. And that is true for each of you!
If you are feeling the call of Jesus to look at the choices and decisions you made or plan to make for the fall, then do that and ask Him what He thinks about them. Is He asking you to make a change? Is He saying yes or no to that new activity? Or is He saying stay the same… You are doing fine? Only use my example as a place to look at what you are doing or choosing through Jesus eyes, not to add guilt or concern. That is what I was doing.
You are free. You are loved. You have grace to make mistakes, say sorry, and change! Lean not on your understanding, but trust in the Lord.
Check out more from our Summer Discipleship blog series.