This is the fourth post in our Parenting series – if you missed the others, you can catch up here.

By Holly Satterthwaite

I give thanks to my God always for you because the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and knowledge – even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you – so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:4-9

This Wednesday, after stress-eating my weight in office birthday treats, I found myself spending my 10 minute lunch break googling ‘dealing with parental guilt’  in an attempt to ease my overactive conscience that I was not a complete failure as a parent. After reading a couple of momentarily reassuring flash cards and facebook/Instagram slogans against the background of photos of impossibly perfect families with model-ready mothers, I shared with a whatsapp group of lovely mum friends. Their wise and loving response was the verse above.

Guilt is a slippery fish these days. I’m often aware of it lurking behind me, waiting to take ground if I allow it to. Sometimes the emotion of guilt can be helpful; it can lead us into repentance and cause us to take restorative action by showing us our (sometimes wilful) mistakes. I see it in my daughter, who sheepishly sidles up to me for a cuddle after drawing on the floor with felt tips.

But guilt shouldn’t linger if we love Jesus. Lingering guilt is false guilt, because in Jesus we are guiltless. While we were still losing our cool over tantrums, misplacing our priorities and not teaching our children with good discipline, Jesus’ death on the cross took the punishment for all our guilt. Not only that but he continues to be faithful, sustaining us until our last day by his spirit. He is faithful and he doesn’t hold us to account. His grace covers us and his spirit is doing a work of transformation in us – teaching us patience, compassion, self-control and endless other traits.

And this truth frees us. It frees us to keep going and to find joy in our parenting. To have hope in the purpose and work that God has given us as parents. It also reassures us that this job doesn’t rest on our shoulders alone, but that God, our heavenly and perfect Father, is there sustaining and loving our children when we mess up just as much as he is us.

So this lunchtime, full of that wonderful truth, I breathed a spiritual sigh of relief… and went for burritos and a glass of Prosecco with some colleagues!