As mothers, we are constantly threatened by the specter of guilt.
Another mother bakes cookies with toddlers.
Another mother makes handmade Christmas cards every year.
Another mother scrubs her bathroom. Every day.
Another mother wakes up at 4:30 AM to exercise, read her bible and make a homemade breakfast for her family.
Another mother makes her children homemade halloween costumes.
We find ourselves feeling guilty. We feel guilty when we take time for ourselves. We feel guilty when we lose our patience, our temper and our car keys. We feel guilty when we open a box of mac-n-cheese or order dinner from Domino's.
I wanted to share some really good news with you today. Namely, this truth:
"Feeling guilty is a choice."
My mother quoted that to me more times than I can remember. As a Christian, she explained, I am freed by the knowledge that feeling guilty does NOT come with the territory of being a mother, a woman or a human being.
Romans 8:1-3 has this to say about guilt:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation [guilt] for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (emphasis mine, NIV)
Feeling guilty is not from God. When we accept that Jesus has saved our life, and offers us a guilt-free existence, we receive, among so many other gifts, the gift of a life free from guilt.
And let me explain - guilt is different from conviction. When the Holy Spirit is speaking truth to your heart and you try to ignore it, you'll feel a sense of pressure and heaviness. That's conviction.
I wanted to talk about guilt now, because holidays are coming. And with them come all the comparisons, the expectations and the crazy schedules. And I want to encourage you to explore the concept of guilt versus conviction now, so that when the pressure starts to mount, you can examine the emotions and ask yourself - 'Is this guilt (not from God) or conviction (an indication of necessary course correction)?'
Guilt is generally that feeling you get when you compare yourself to others, judge yourself too harshly, or set an unrealistic expectation on your life that is not in line with what God has planned for you.
Guilt renders us victims of our surroundings, emotions and relationships.
Conviction empowers us to ask God to show us the needed course correction - and when we make the correction, the pressure lifts.
Feeling guilty? Let it go. It's not from God, and as a child of God, it's not FOR you. It's a distraction. Brush it off, and if you need to, speak the bible verses aloud.
Feeling convicted? Get into your bible and discover what God has to say - he'll provide you with answers.
Remember - Feeling guilty is a choice. Just say 'no'. Live free, and breathe easy.
"We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well."
(1 Corinthians 10:24b MSG)