Give Up the Guilt {Day 3 of Sorry, Not Sorry}

Guilt.  

A feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc. – whether real or imagined.

Do you know that feeling?  The one deep inside that says…it’s all your fault. Even if you’re not willing to admit this feeling to another single person, you know it’s in there, sitting and stewing.

You feel sorry for how “it” happened or turned out.  Maybe you didn’t even mean to – or maybe you did.  Maybe you knew your reply or action would be cutting and callus, designed to strike back against the one who had hurt you.  Who can blame you, right?  {sarcasm}

She started it!  He is so mean!  

You feel justified.  You feel right.  But you also feel…guilty.  And maybe you should.

Because deep inside you there’s some niggling notion that perhaps this isn’t how life should be.  You shouldn’t be avoiding so and so because you can’t face her.  You shouldn’t have to avoid that topic of conversation or that section of the Bible.

Whether it was something you did – and should own {go do that now before reading any further} – or something you did NOT do and carry anyway, ask yourself…

Why do I still feel guilt?

Day 3 of 31

{If the feeling is conviction  – you know you’ve wronged another and truly need to repent and apologize- then that’s different. Go do THAT, really.  Even if you have to swallow pride, even if it makes you look foolish, it’s worth it.  Trust me.  Better yet, trust Him and His Word.}

If you ask yourself this question and respond with…I owned that. I apologized to and reconciled with the other person as far as it depends on me (Romans 12:18). I know I had nothing to do with it.  

Then ask…why is the guilt lingering?  Or, why do I KEEP apologizing for the thing that’s been owned and reconciled?  And – the hardest of all – for the THING I had NOTHING to do with?

You’ll have to do some self-reflection and honest soul searching here.  I can’t answer for you.  But, I can tell you why I held on: Humility.  Comfort.  Excuses.

I embraced my guilt because it seemed the humble thing to do – take responsibility.  Even if I was 10% responsible to the other person’s’ 90% – even if I had worked through the issue with the other as much as I could.  It just seemed like the Jesus-y thing to do – show how humble I was to keep apologizing and “accepting responsibility.” (More in that in future posts.)

The guilt was also comforting.  I knew what guilt looked and felt like. Being guiltless was unfamiliar.  Guilt gave me an excuse to stay right where I was and not move forward. And its presence in me poured out as apology after apology, which also seemed a bit noble.  After all, I was not blaming others or shirking responsibility, I was owning my stuff, your stuff, any stuff I knew of.

This guilt was evident when I spoke of my parenting: I am divorced, single, living on one income, so I can’t ________ or ________ – and I feel guilty about it. I can’t pay for as much dance as I used to with this  tighter budget, and I can’t be present at all my kiddos activities because I can only be in one place. I used to feel so guilty.  Why should any of that make me feel guilty?

Guilt was evident in my friendships: I am not good at relationships – I mean, you know I am divorced and have little to none of the same friends I had when I was married.  So, I’d feel guilty that you had to try to be the friend of someone who failed at relationships.  Or guilty that I was so needy in this season, taking and not always giving.  Or guilty that you (good Christian wife) had to associated with someone “divorced.”

I could go one, but you get it: Guilt took root and permeated my being, and I allowed it to stay and grow because it was comfortable.  A good shield to keep me from having to really surrender to God, live out of who he made me to be, and walk in freedom.

So. I gave up the guilt.  Well, I am giving up the guilt.  I default to it sometimes, but I can hear it and catch it now.

How?

I considered all possible causes of the guilt.  I prayed/pray over those situations or people.  I rest in knowing…

If I confess my sins, He is faithful to forgive. (1 John 1:9)

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove my transgressions from me.  (Psalm 103: 11-12)

I can cast all my anxieties on him, because he cares for me. (1 Peter 5:7)

I am fearfully and wonderfully made by Him and for Him. (Psalm 139:14)

Once I’ve repented and sought forgiveness.  Once I have reconciled as far as it depends on me.   My Father does not want me simmering in the past, stewing in the guilt, and apologizing over and over for who He has made to be.  Or what He has allowed to occur in my life.  Or even what I have caused by walking out of step with Him.

He wants me to walk in the freedom of his forgiveness.  He wants to me to live as one whom He has made righteous through His death and resurrection. He wants me to give up the guilt and live out of His joy and love.

And, sister, He wants the same for you.  This is not 31 days to helping yourself become a better you and arrogantly deciding never to be sorry again.  This is 31 days to living in and through your Savior. To embracing your title as one he loves and walking like her. To not apologizing for what he’s brought you through or called you to.  To being the “uniquely you” that he fearfully and wonderfully made.

Give up the guilt.  Be her.

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