Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Living With the Heavy Weight of Guilt

I have a confession to make. I feel guilty bringing up the subject of guilt on a blog that's all about encouragement. It just seems wrong. But bear with me...

Over the last &#@! months (who wants to be reminded of how terribly slow their spiritual walk is, huh?) the Lord has been gently washing away layers of the sticky grime coating my heart and mind. And as dark as that may sound, those merciful and loving actions of my Saviour are perhaps the most encouraging thing I've ever experienced.

Do you live with guilt? Are the words "I'm sorry" emblazoned on your tongue? Do you constantly strive to please people no matter how it affects you?

Are you compulsive? Do you throw yourself into busyness in an effort to reach... something ever unattainable? Can you remember the last time you felt acceptable or good enough?

I'm with you.

And you know what? Apparently this is not how God wants you to live. How do I know that? You see, there's this book that God wrote...

Try doing a keyword search for "freedom" in your Bible concordance. My favourite result...

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Cor. 3:17

Honestly, I still haven't figured out what freedom tastes like. I'm only beginning to smell the aroma of liberty pie coming from the Lord's kitchen. But I'm getting pretty tired of my strict diet of heavy guilt and incessant striving. I'm ready to indulge in what God has for me.

Hard as I tried, I could never really do enough to take away the guilt. Burnt out emotionally more times than I can count, in many cases the only thing that brought me out of that place was a new idea, a new compulsion, another path to run down in headlong abandon.

So I asked the Lord what He wanted me to do.

In my exhaustion the still, small voice hit with the gentleness of a warm spring breeze.


"But God, don't you want me to work hard? To do the right things? To be a good wife, mom, friend and ministry worker? To stop making all of these mistakes?"

Relationship. And faith.

"But, but, but... what about assuaging this guilt? How will I ever scrub it away? What can I actually DO?"

Relationship with Me, dear child.

Verses are beginning to come back to me through the fog of busyness and guilt. Scriptures about a righteousness through faith, about God removing my sins as far away as the east is from the west, about becoming a part of God's family.

And God is teaching me that what I have to do is concentrate on my relationship with Him. (Well, obviously I'm expected to do laundry, kiss my husband, read to my kids and file my taxes as well, but not with the same motivation that has driven me thus far.)

God is revealing that much of what I have been carrying around as part of my emotional wardrobe is false guilt. And I'm getting an inkling of what Jesus meant when He announced that Isaiah 61 was fulfilled with His coming -

"He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor."

Sigh. My spirit is getting lighter already.

thanks to sxc/secureroot (shackles), sxc/luzdesigns (pies) for the photos


  1. My Dearest Diana,
    This post hit me in the solar plexus--for you because you are a lovely woman--for me because I am a "doer". God has been working on it with me, too. There's an older woman in church losing the battle with an eating disorder, and other than prayer, there's NOTHING I can DO. And I run an advice blog. And I know that every answer to every question is Prayer--but then I add to it.

    I have to ponder your words and figure out "relationship" and what God wants from me.

    Love you so much, Diana--you have an amazing, passionate heart--and I believe that is completely of God. xoxo

  2. Thanks for this word, Diana. Experiencing true freedom in Christ is often an elusive thing, cluttered up with things God has already forgiven and removed but we haven't let go of yet. I posted this morning on my blog a reminder to myself to let God take the garbage out and it dovetails so well with what you've said so well.

  3. We all try too hard, when all God wants is our faith and trust, so we can rest, no matter what comes our way.
    Bless you for your honesty, Diana...God wants to be our friend, made possible by the shed blood of His Son...and He wants us to be friends with Him! Pure and simple!

  4. I agree that on one level it is pure and simple, but on another level it isn't--at least not for me. I love Jesus, and because of that, I love my fellow man. There is work/love/the use of gifts related to family, church, our fellow man. Figuring out what God wants us to do in that realm, takes a close, close constant walk at His side. And that's not always easy.

  5. We so often hang on to forgiven sins and nourish our guilt. The chains of guilt keep us from moving forward and embracing the vision that He has for us.
    Thank you for this post on guilt. It's one that needs to be read again and again.

  6. You were talking to me, Di. This is so powerful and - YES - encouraging. Entirely too easy to hold onto that guilt when what we really need is that relationship.

  7. Dying to the fear of man.....I am thinking especially of your quote: " Do you constantly strive to please people no matter how it affects you?"

    If this were a college course I have retaken this final over and over but I can see that I am growing in the area of knowing God knows my heart and my intent and I really can "die" to the fear of what others are thinking....Yeah!

  8. Wow, how did you know what I needed to hear??? Oh, that's right - the Holy Spirit. He is the BEST encourager, isn't He? Thanks so much for this blessing today, Diana!!!!

  9. Thanks for all of your kind and super encouraging words. I'm thrilled (and kinda surprised :o ) that so many can apply this lesson. Not because misery loves company (really), but because God is so good, faithful and ever patient, isn't He? Knowing that firsthand is the definition of bittersweet, with the emphasis on sweet.

    And I agree with you Lisa, although it sounds simple (and on certain levels it really is), dealing with that 'simplicity' is a complicated thing indeed. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

  10. And sometimes, it's a matter of becoming comfortable with freedom, peace, rest and joy.

    We wonder what is around the corner--another battle while we are still in the midst of yet 'another' one?...another burden to carry?...another fear to conquer?...and so on. We stay on alert (not necessarily ready) : )for the next ball-to-drop. Our hearts, spirit and soul are on guard for the next attack.

    And yes, we are armed and dangerous with the Divine weapons God has provided, along with His Power that grants all things possible.

    It's just, for me, this journey of finding freedom, peace, rest and joy, and THEY becoming the norm for my soul and spirit, has been a very difficult journey. There has been nothing easy or gentle about it. Yet God has been so faithful and comforting, and His deep, sustaining love has uncovered a treasure of reasons why Christ died for us--to give us freedom, peace, rest and joy...and life--to the full! And not just during the storms.

    Freedom, Confidence, Expectation.

    I've come to love those words.


  11. My sweet sister... how great to read the first entry on this blog and have it be about relationship vs. religion.
    Can't wait to keep the conversation going!

  12. Processing through something like guilt-fog is life changing. When we learn to accept forgiveness and focus on that relationship, we will experience that great phenomenon called Peace that Passes all Understanding and, yes, our spirits will be lighter.

    Great thought provoking words here. Thanks Di.

  13. Thank you, Diana, for such a great article. I was visiting with three young mentorees just last night and one of them questions her salvation because of her struggles.
    You've given me a great direction for our next visit. God Bless.

  14. I think it's time to lay down some of that heavy guilt. Thank you, Diana.

  15. I'm also a doer and then I grow weary from all the doing and become discouraged. Thanks for the insight.



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