I Am Not a Bad Person. I Am Not. I Am Not.


got guiltI felt as if I’d been slugged in my stomach. Emotions began right in my gut and spread throughout my body as waves of fear and dread crashed through all sense of what’s good and right in the world. Sadness pervaded my soul.

Immediately following were feelings of guilt which begged to evolve into the voice of shame. The devil’s basic arsenal of shame messages whispered to my heart, “You’re a bad daughter. You are failing. You are a failure.”

And all this happened in less than 30 seconds.

I was at work when I answered the call from my mother’s assisted living facility during which I was asked to take my Mom to the hospital today for 7-10 days for a medication evaluation from the geriatric psychiatric doctors.

I struggled to offer meaning to myself and Mom’s caregivers about Mom’s current refusal to dress, bathe, and take her medication. She fell twice last week. We spent hours in the ER. We’ve been pushing her to use a walker, which is a new skill for her and not one she is easily learning at this stage. Mom’s had lots of family visitors. Surely she will get better in a few days, but her care facility owner suggested that there may be more going on. The disease may be progressing.

My mother has dementia and Alzheimer’s. Any new situation is difficult for her. She becomes insecure, even more than she already is with her declining ability to express herself and process information. I am her secure base in those moments.  

I feel as if I am being asked to leave my two-year old at the hospital for 7-10 days. Yes, I can visit, but no, I cannot stay with my mother. Mom’s ability to understand is gone. In all likelihood, I will have to leave her anxious and afraid. Beyond that, there is the fear that she may not continue to be a good candidate for assisted living which brings its own set of fears and decisions.

Tears are ready to stream down my face at any moment. I hate this. I hate having to be the one to make these decisions. I hate having to do anything that makes Mom even more scared or unsettled. And yet, a change in medication may improve her life for a while.

I recognize these feelings of guilt. I felt this same guilt when I took my firstborn to school at age 5. When I put my daughter in daycare so I could work while my husband was in seminary. When my third-born son had his first asthma attack at age 2 on the very first night I ever left him (and he was home with his daddy!) When I took my baby boy to Mother’s Day Out. Shoot, I even felt this when I left my kids in Sunday School.

Even in writing these scenarios, I hear the voice of the perfect mothers who would never do such things and I feel the need to defend myself.

I am not a bad mother. I am not a bad daughter. I am not. I am not.

Recently my kids were telling mother stories, meaning stories about me, and I remember jokingly saying, “Not something else to feel guilty about!”

We women seem to have this intangible standard we are trying to attain. The standard is perfection. Rationally we understand that perfection is impossible. Emotionally we find ourselves working really hard to meet that standard. The perfect mom. The perfect wife. The perfect daughter.

You know the one, the one who never disappoints. Never fails. The one who can calm every fear and meet every need. The one who is always there. Always.

These struggles with guilt and shame lead me to the cross where I wrestle to accept my humanity. My limitedness. My imperfection. And there I know I can exchange all that for His strength and power and perfection.

 I come face to face, for the millionth time, with accepting that while I am not a perfect mom or a perfect daughter or a perfect wife, I am a good one. And today, as I struggle to find the grace and strength to release, again, my mother to God’s care, I am thankful that God teaches me that it’s about my heart, not my perfection.

And my heart is good. I love my mother. I love my kids. I love my husband.

And love is enough. Love covers a multitude of sin and imperfection. Love never fails. God commended His love to us all through Jesus Christ. The one who never disappoints. Never fails. Calms every fear. Meets ever need. The One who is always there. Always.

Even today.



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    Categories : Aging, Guilt

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