The Unnecessary Burden of Guilt

I've a well-honed sense of guilt. Some days it doesn't come near me, but on others, it causes me to slump around and become lethargic. It creeps over as I'm gazing at some household chore I dread or some task I started and didn't finish. (Although, thanks to Real Simple magazine, I have been given a wonderful insight into chores...they said to check the clock and time yourself on whatever chore you hate the most, and be pleasantly surprised that it really doesn't take that long, and really isn't worth putting off. I mean, really, emptying the dishwasher and reloading it took all of 6 minutes. I dread 6 minutes? But I digress...)

This morning I didn't graciously allow my wonderful, hard-working husband to sleep in. I did let him sleep in, but not graciously. While he was sleeping, I was gracious, and fed Zoe and kept her quiet, but once he woke up, I was decidedly ungracious. I wanted him to pop right out of bed, raring to go, aware of all the chores I was quietly working on and rise to the occasion of helping me clean the house from top to bottom. Well, this obviously didn't happen, because he'd just woken up. He was still sleepy.

So this matter of feeling guilty. I felt guilty this morning about not being gracious, but mostly what I was upset about was that he DIDN'T feel guilty about sleeping in. Because I would have. So he should have.

Isn't that the most warped thing? So as I took our in-laws' dog out for a walk, I pondered my attitude. I feel guilty a LOT. And I know I do, and I know I shouldn't. And so I feel guilty about that. I feel that I should use my time better. I should read the Bible more. I should volunteer more often and take more meals to sick people or people with new babies or the neighbors across the street. (Although I did make a blueberry tart for our neighbors last week but they weren't home at the time I tried to take it to them, so then I brought it back home and stuck it in the fridge, forgetting about it until I threw it away this morning. But I don't really feel guilty about that, just forgetful.) When Nathaniel is gracious (and he is much, much better at this than me) and lets me sleep in, once I wake up, I feel guilty. I feel that I should have gotten up and taken care of Zoe and done all these things that he did while I was sleeping.

So I'm still working through all this and trying to figure out why my first inclination is to feel guilt. Perhaps it's my background of Calvinism? Sin is ever before me and in me? I long to move into the wideness of God's mercy, and as I learn it, to pour it out over others. And this thing of wanting others to feel guilty because I would have really has to stop.

Is it a faulty view of myself in light of God's grace and mercy? Or a correct one? The church we attend has a saying they often repeat: Until sin is bitter, grace cannot be sweet. When I first heard that, I thought, "Yes!" Until I can see myself in the light of God's incredible perfection, I can't realize how much I need Him and what He did for me. But on the other hand, He sees me as His child. When I think of Zoe, even when she does something I tell her not to (like throw Pooh Bear in the kitchen trash can), I still love her immensely. Do I feel that I let God down in my actions or inactions? As His child, He looks on me and smiles. This burden I carry over things that don't matter is unnecessary. An attitude of guilt keeps me from God's purposes of fully living.

And that's what I mean about moving into the wideness of His mercy. I want to learn to accept that for myself and be able to freely give it to others.

1 comment:

  1. I believe you have accurately described false guilt, as well as false expectations. My background isn't in Calvinism, and I would venture to say what you describe is our human condition. I still struggle with feeling guilty about what I did or did not do a lot, but I try to identify false guilt. (If I don't usually J does.) Then I can call it what it is, and focus on truth. I keep a tally of what I want to do, and I try to do it. No feeling guilty about it...God wants me to just 'BE' myself and loves me for it. And when I mess up I can repent if it is an actual sin issue. That's something to feel guilty about. But certain things aren't worth beating myself up over because they aren't sin issues, but more of time/treasure/talent issues. ;) Good thoughts, Carrie!


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