Wednesday, April 13, 2016

On Pinterest and Mommy Guilt

There are times when I feel like all is right with the world.

Like when my kids are being nice to each other and peacefully working out who sits where in the van. Sibling love? That makes me feel like mom of the year. 

But then, I hop on Pinterest. And all of those good feelings disappear faster than a clean house invaded by teenage boys. 

Pinterest, I feel like I need to drop you like a bad habit. 

Actually, it's not you Pinterest, it's the pins that barrage my feed. I don't know why they show up, but they have eye catching little graphics and headlines that say things like, 50 Things You Have to do With your Daughters, Why we Deleted the Internet at Home, 5 Habits Every Mom Should Avoid and Why It Matters, 1001 Prayers to Pray Over Your Kids Every Day. 

These aren't the actual titles of posts I've ever seen, but you know what I'm getting at. They are meant to be helpful. Unfortunately, sometimes they create more shame and guilt than their writers ever intended. At least for me. 

Here's why I'm sort of quitting Pinterest. (You have to know I'll still come back for recipes and home decor and silly pictures of pets doing silly things. And we're redoing two bathrooms this year. Have mercy. I need all the Pinterest inspiration I can get on cute bathrooms for cheap.) 

Pinterest opens the door to the comparison trap.

A friend of mine lamented to me recently that she easily gets caught in the comparison trap. I can certainly relate, I look at some posts on Pinterest and feel like I will never measure up to be the right kind of godly mom because I don't pray those 1001 prayers over my kids every day. And then I feel defeated and I wonder why I'm doing it all wrong and why all those other moms are doing it so right.

Pinterest won't ever replace real face to face relationships with others who encourage me to grow closer to Christ. 

We've been privileged to call a house church network our church home for the last three years. One thing that we love about it is that the way we're doing church right now leaves lots of room for life giving relationships. It leaves space and time to meet regularly with each other for accountability and to help each other grow closer to Christ. We ask each other hard questions and we expect honest answers. Those relationships are the ones I want to go to when I need advice, mostly because these close friends are usually quick to say they don't have the answers but they will pray for me, and often right then. That's so much more valuable than a blog post called 50 Tips to Being an Awesome Mom

Pinterest places undue guilt on me over the choices I make as a parent.

I know the majority of blog writers have no intention of creating guilt in the hearts of their readers. But it happens. Here's why-the enemy likes to create division among Christ followers. And if guilt trips will do that then he'll send us packing however he can. Even through well meaning advice articles. 

Advice on parenting and marriage is best found in community, in person to person relationships where you give each other the freedom to share honestly, and offer help when needed. Without a close relationship where you really know each other, a lot of advice comes across as a checklist. And unchecked check lists are really good at creating a deep sense of guilt and shame.

Take it to the throne before you take it to the phone.

My sister shared this idea with me a long time ago. It was from a book she read where the author talked about taking our problems to God first, instead of picking up the phone to call a friend, our mom, or whoever else. This was written long before we all started carrying tiny computers in our purses. This advice is more spot on now than ever. How often do I take my problems to Pinterest or a Google search or a text to a friend, before I take them to God? That should be my first move.

So here's what I'm doing to help me avoid the comparison trap and bring my problems to God first:
  • I've cleaned up my Instagram feed and my Pinterest feed. I no longer follow some topics or people because I've noticed that they produce a lot of guilt and shame in me. 
  • I've prayerfully sought God about the difference between guilt and conviction. Guilt is a tool of the enemy, used to make me feel generally bad about something vague that I can't even identify. Conviction is the Holy Spirit revealing a specific thing that needs to change. If I can identify why a certain post or piece of advice makes me feel uncomfortable, then most likely it's because the Holy Spirit is poking at me to change something. If not, it's guilt and I'm not taking it.
  • And finally, I've taken time to foster life giving relationships where I can seek advice, and even more importantly, seek prayer when I need it. 
So Pinterest, I think you're awesome. I really do. I just want to use you mindfully and prayerfully, like any other piece of technology. 

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