When Guilt Steals Time You Don’t Have To Lose

by Renee Swope February 16, 2022
“Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me …” Psalm 25:4-5 (NIV)
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While I was working one evening, I heard my husband, J.J., and our daughter, Aster, having “doggie playtime” with our two dachshunds. Soon he and Aster would read a book and say bedtime prayers. I longed to be with them, relaxed and carefree, connecting with my girl.

As I reminded myself that I had a deadline, which had already been pushed back, my thoughts were interrupted by a cruel and condemning voice of “mommy guilt” telling me I hadn’t spent enough time with Aster that week. Guilt had bullied me earlier that day, too, telling me I was irresponsible for extending my deadline, even though the extension was due to circumstances I couldn’t control.

Laughter and playful dog barks sounded from the hallway, making it even harder to keep working. I wanted to be with my family, but I didn’t want to be led by guilt. I wanted love to lead. As I started to form a prayer, today’s key verse popped into my head: “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me …” (Psalm 25:4-5).

So I whispered my prayer, asking God to show me the right path and lead me by His Truth …

After I prayed, I sensed God nudging me to take a short 10-minute break and trust Him to help me meet my deadline. I also sensed guilt had taken enough of my time, and He didn’t want me giving it one more minute. Unless I detected that Aster was upset, He didn’t want me to gush — “I’m so sorry I haven’t spent time with you, and I feel so bad about it” — or secretly hope she would say something to make me feel less guilty.

I wanted to give my daughter my undivided attention, hugs, laughter and love during all 600 seconds we had together. As a mom, I wanted to be compelled by love and not guilt. 

When I got into Aster’s room and told her I wanted to be part of doggy playtime, she didn’t mention that she missed me. She didn’t ask why I hadn’t spent more time with her. She hadn’t been thinking, Where’s my mom? I can’t believe she isn’t spending time with me. She’s such a bad mom! We enjoyed that 600-second break without one second of it being consumed by “mom guilt.”

When guilt came that night, it tried to steal my focus and take time I didn’t have to lose. And I had gone along with it so many times before. But thankfully God helped me recognize what was happening and shift my focus off the time I didn’t have, so I could offer what I did.

Unlike conviction from the Holy Spirit, which lovingly urges us to turn from sin for our own good, guilt steals from the past and the present. Guilt steals our time, our energy and our focus by getting us to think about all we are not doing or “should” be doing — when we could just do the thing. Spend the time. Say the apology. Send the text. Leave the sticky note.

God doesn’t desire for us to live from a place of guilt. Instead, He wants us to live from a place of His love and grace, especially when it comes to spending time with our kids. He extends His grace to us so freely … whether we have 6 million seconds to spare or only 60.

Mama, God knows you’re doing the best you can. We can mother confidently when we unwrap ourselves from the chains of guilt and instead wrap ourselves in God’s love and grace for us.

“Mom guilt” tries to convince us we are not doing enough and our children think we’re the worst. But our kids are willing to give us so much more grace than we realize. We simply need to step into that grace and be what we can be.

We don’t have time to lose. And we don’t have to lose the time we have by giving in to guilt. Let’s live fully in what we can do while refusing to feel guilty for what we can’t do.

Lord, help me to give myself grace when I feel guilty. Instead of giving guilt my mental and emotional energy, help me to follow as You lead me with Your love. Help me do what I can to make the most of the minutes and moments You have given me with my children. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Transform your perspective on parenting and change the way you see yourself as a mom, and as a child of God, with Renee Swope’s newest book, A Confident Mom: Simple Ways to Give Your Child What They Need Most.


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Romans 8:1, “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

How often does guilt steal your attention and time with condemning thoughts about what you aren’t doing enough of?

In what area of your life do you especially need Jesus, not guilt, to guide you in the way you should go? 

© 2022 by Renee Swope. All rights reserved.

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