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Lindsey Mitzel offers words of encouragement to moms who struggle to forgive themselves and accept forgiveness.

As I was talking with a friend about parenting our young children, she suddenly paused and said something along the lines of, “I feel terrible when my kids tell me I’m the best Mommy in the world, because I know I’m not.” 

“I can definitely relate to that,” I responded, “Though mine usually then take the opportunity to add that Mary is actually the best Mommy in the world because she’s PERFECT, which helps.” As I thought more about it, I realized that what my friend shared is such a familiar struggle for me—beating myself up for my perceived (and known) failures as a parent, and struggling to forgive myself for not being better, if not perfect. We all know that perfection doesn’t exist for us, but the reality is parenting is really difficult, and we want to raise our children to know how priceless and unbelievably loved they are. How difficult a task that is sometimes, especially when we’re burnt out, exhausted, stressed, or when something our sweet kids do pokes at an old wound that has never quite healed.

As I continued chatting with my friend, I realized that my kids particularly tend to tell me I'm a great mom after I do something less than stellar, am asking for their forgiveness, and explaining what I was feeling and how I should have handled something differently. I begin to see that in their innocence, my children forgive me far more readily than I forgive myself. Likewise, just as I forgive them easily when they offer their little apologies, I know our Father in heaven feels similarly when I contritely confess the ways I’ve missed the mark. After absolution, when my sins have been cast infinitely from me, do I still forgive myself for falling short in the first place? Perhaps that ready-to-forgive-and-lavish-with-love-and-affection that our children show us in these moments of our weakness and imperfection is a taste of the Father’s limitless mercy and love for us. 


mom and daughter hugging


If this is a struggle that you relate to, I’d like to offer a few ideas of how we can practice Divine Mercy with ourselves, particularly as mothers, based on the Marian Fathers’ mnemonic for the Divine Mercy message, “ABC.” 

A: Ask for mercy

B: Be merciful

C: Completely trust Jesus. 

God calls us to ask for His mercy, particularly in Reconciliation, in praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, in praying for others, especially for conversion of souls, and in praying for ourselves. As mothers, we can ask for mercy by praying for others, especially for conversion. We can ask God for his mercy and forgiveness when we sin, and ask our children for their forgiveness when we do wrongly by them, even in little ways. 

Jesus asks us to be merciful as He is merciful. We can live mercy by persevering in the work to forgive those in our lives who have hurt us. Sometimes the Lord will reveal minor incidents that we need to offer forgiveness for. We aren’t always aware of how minor wrongs can impact us in greater ways. As mothers, we can choose to forgive our children readily, and work to forgive them if it feels challenging to do so. There is always grace to forgive if we ask for it; however, that doesn’t mean that the work of forgiving is easy, even with our children. We can also work to forgive ourselves when we are impatient, raise our voices, or handle a situation in an unloving way. In Christ, and with Him, we can work to forgive and learn how to be merciful with ourselves. We can grow to love the daughter of God who we are and who He desires us to be. If God is so merciful with us, how can we be less with ourselves?

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If God is so merciful with us, how can we be less with ourselves? #catholicmom

As we celebrate Easter, we celebrate Jesus’ defeat of death and His incredible love for us that truly has no bounds. He is the Good Shepherd who leaves and searches endlessly to find us when we stray and lead us back home. Jesus is the persistent lover who willingly was tortured for us while we rejected Him. God is the Good Father who gave His Son for the life of a slave. God is so trustworthy. Nothing much is trustworthy anymore, so it's easy to get into the habit of distrust and skepticism.

The good news of Easter, however, calls for a pretty radical trust in a God who would offer this incredible undeserved mercy to us. St. Catherine of Siena said, “God is more willing to pardon than we have been to sin.” One practical way that we can work to increase our trust in Jesus is by repeating “Jesus, I trust in You'' throughout the day in those difficult moments that tempt us towards impatience, anxiety, anger, or fear. Another idea is praying for the grace to trust in Jesus more, and to begin to pray a daily Rosary, especially with the whole family if possible, and ask especially for the grace of increased trust in Jesus as an intention. 

Being a mom is really wonderful and also really hard. There are a lot of tools that can help us in our journey to become the mothers God desires us to be. Above all, prayer triumphs, and the need to forgive ourselves and others is a critical aspect of the healing process that the Lord gives to us to free us from sin and bondage to a great many things. Most importantly, we are not defined by our successes or failures. Rather, our identity comes from God alone; redeemed, beloved, and desired daughter of the Father.


child offering flowers

Copyright 2022 Lindsey Mitzel
Images: Canva Pro