This post was originally posted last year… but I needed to hear it again while I take this week off. I hope it speaks to you too!
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Sometimes I think we love to beat ourselves up.
Guilt is one of those voices we have to stop listening to, if we’re to ever live up to our amazing potential.
Oh, there’s a lot of voices we listen to over the course of the day. Fear is the big one, Failure, Jealousy, Unhappiness, Defeat, etc… But Guilt has no problem sharing the stage with any one of those. It likes to tag team. It’s the back up plan. It’s a player.
We all struggle with guilt.
And Guilt likes to hide behind expectation, goals, plans, promises, and pressure. It’s Fear’s end game. If Fear can’t put the kibosh on something you want to do, guilt sweeps in at the back-end and gloats that you couldn’t do it all, after all. Guilt declares that you’ll never attempt anything like that again because you’re useless. Guilt berates you into feeling lower than the floor over the tiniest little things. Guilt demands that you grovel and chant “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy!”
Personally, I really need guilt to take a hike.
Mistakes happen. Things get forgotten. Tasks get sidetracked. Words get tossed. People become overwhelmed.
Where in the rules does it say you HAVE to get groceries on a Saturday? And that if you don’t do it first thing in the morning, you might a well forget doing anything right for the rest of the week? Guilt told you that didn’t it?
Who decided that if every task on your list didn’t get a checkmark, that it meant you’re losing your touch, that you’re lazy, and no good? That the rest of the day you need to meditate on the word accomplishment, and how it doesn’t ever apply to you? Ah yes, that was guilt.
You missed church, you forgot a lunch date, you said something you shouldn’t have, you did something you shouldn’t have, you were someone you shouldn’t have been.
And not only that, but Guilt will keep this tremendous record of your flaws, goofs, and wrongs. It has a mind like a steel trap. It has no problem sneaking in as you congratulate yourself on a decent day spent with your family, and reminding you of that one day back in ’76 when you had to work instead of going to the ballgame, concert, parent night, birthday party, or field trip.
Yep. Guilt needs to take a long walk off a short pier.
Guilt especially loves to target people with depression. We spiral from “wow, I got a few things done today!” to “but so what? So did everybody else. You still missed the good stuff. You still can’t hack it as well as you should…” and before we know it, we’re a heap of misery in a corner somewhere wondering why we bother, and what good is it to do much of anything. Nothing is right! And you spiral into a pit. And you stay there. Covered in guilt. No, smothered in guilt.
Guilt is a huge trigger for depressed episodes. Time to be tired of being dragged through the proverbial mud. Time to banish guilt.
Great! How the heck do we do that?
First, remember who you are. You are amazing. You’re cherished by the Father. You’re a child of the King. You’re the one He takes the time to bring up out of the miry clay, and what? Put you right back in it? No, sets your feet on the Rock. The sure foundation. Guilt HATES a sure foundation. It prefers wallowing in the mud.
We are destined for more than mud.
But we have to believe it.
That’s the second thing. We have to believe that we’re more important than any social rule, any house wife’s tradition, any made up expectation. Stop trying to live up to super human standards and embrace being you. Change how and when and why you do things. Define your life according to doable standards. Burden-free standards. The Father’s standards are a great place to start.
And finally, cut yourself some slack. Life is messy enough. Guilt loves nothing more than to get you to sling your own mud, at your own self. Guilt tiptoes away after you continue it’s awful dialogue, with yourself. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You’re complex, and complex can’t be stuffed into a box and made to perform perfectly. Start your day with some ideas, then see what you can do with them for today. Because there’s a tomorrow coming. You have day after day, and chance after chance, and guilt doesn’t belong in any of them.
I’m reminded of a certain product you can get at any hardware store. It removes the stickiest, tackiest, hardest goo from any surface. It’s manna from heaven. Okay, maybe not quite that epic but still. So instead of something like a Goo Be Gone type product, we need a Guilt Be Gone! We need something to wash that away without a hint of guilty residue!
That would be forgiveness. Forgiveness removes even the tackiest forms of guilt. Forgive yourself for being human. Forgive yourself for not being perfect, when in fact, no one is.
And know that you can access forgiveness from the Father. No mistake is too big when a wounded heart approaches His throne of grace. Grace! If forgiveness removes guilt, then grace removes shame. Grace asks you to keep moving forward. Grace sends you back out into your day with instructions to stop being so hard on yourself, to face your day with new dignity, and instead shine every time you take a small step forward.
So you can raise your voice, and say, “Guilt! Be Gone!”
image by c.duncan