Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Guilt Steals Joy...

I recently read those words in Kristen Welch's awesome daily devotional "Don't Make Me Come Up There!" I'm enjoying this book quite a bit. Kristen has a wealth of wisdom, and a great sense of humor, about the everyday challenges of motherhood.

But really, those words ring true for everyone, whether you are a mother or not.

"Guilt Steals Joy."

I might have to incorporate that into my next tattoo. I definitely need a consistent reminder to let go of my guilt. We don't need to feel guilty when we sleep in on a Saturday. We don't need to feel guilty when we have that dessert after dinner (or before dinner for that manner). We don't need to feel guilty when we buy that pretty nail polish or purchase that large sweet tea (as in Kristen's case). We don't even need to feel guilty about those three boxes of Girl Scout cookies we have hidden in the chest freezer in the basement, conveniently tucked under a plastic bag clearly marked "chicken gizzards" (but which is actually full of some awesome wool for knitting)...

I'm sorry. Was that last one just me? I'm telling you, you can hide ANYTHING in a freezer under or behind a bag that says "chicken gizzards" and you are practically guaranteed that nobody in your family will go near it!

But I digress. When it comes to guilt, I have quite a bit of experience. I grew up with a mom who has a black belt in guilt. Although she used to heap a good helping of guilt on herself, she was like a ninja with the guilt. She'd sneak up on you, smack you with a healthy dose, and disappear in a puff of smoke without ever actually having been seen. Nowadays, she's a lot better about guilt in every way. I don't think she lugs as much around with her, and she very rarely sneaks it onto me (although I do occasionally get those voice mails about how I don't call or write, and she talks to my three sisters all the time, but she never hears from me, yada-yada-yada).

I have spent a lifetime feeling guilty about everything from that insensitive thing I said to a lady at the grocery store eight years ago to just plain not being as good as I thought God probably wanted me to be. I always assumed that I should feel guilty because I must be disappointing God in some way. Every minute of every day.

These days I'm getting better too. About the guilt. I still need to work on that whole keeping in touch thing. What can I say? I don't like to talk on the phone. Last year when I read the Bible in 90 Days, the biggest lesson I learned is that God is not who I thought He was. He is much better than I ever gave Him credit for. We don't have to drag all that joy stealing guilt around because Jesus already took it away. God created joy so that we could experience it. He wants us to have joy. He doesn't want us to simply exist with the joy stealing guilt monster looming in the back of our consciousness. He wants us to live with joy in our hearts.

So I have been choosing one thing each day that I feel guilty about. And I have been letting it go.

You should try it. It feels good!


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