When my last post about guilt cross-posted over on Facebook, I got a lot of comments agreeing and sympathizing with me. One of my friends (hi Lindsay!) said "Guilt.Guilt.Guilt. I live with it daily. I would love to be FREE from it.
Please, oh please." Her use of the word "free" really hit me, and I started mulling over the concept of freedom and what it means to be truly set free from something.. in this case, a crippling mindset.
I wrote in the FB comments: "Honestly, I don't want to come under condemnation for 'how good I am' or 'what I do', because that is just NOT from Christ. It's self-imposed. And I'm the only one measuring me against some unrealistic ideal woman-mother-wife that lives in my head. (She has a flat tummy, by the way. haha) And I really don't want to be characterized by feeling guilty about what I'm 'supposedly' failing in. What a killjoy, huh?"
I think the thing is that I am imposing this guilt-complex on myself. No one tells me I'm doing a bad job as a mother or a wife (or friend, or daughter, or sister... the list goes on). In fact, I hear the opposite 100x more often that I ever hear any whisper of missed expectations from anyone. It's all in my head. That same friend also commented "I compare myself to "PerfectWoman" all the time. The thing is, I take bits of "perfection" that various friends have, then combine them all into SuperWoman and expect myself to live up to her. It's not easy to let that go." So we make up a composite woman who has every skill we think we need, then come under self-imposed guilt when we don't live up to PerfectWoman.
So that's the crippling mindset. Where does freedom come in? My friend Johanna wrote: "And also? There is therefore now NO condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. So take that fail/guilt!" There is a difference between condemnation and conviction. As I've been thinking about this, I think that condemnation is this self-imposed guilt that I've been battling and talking about here. It's not *only* self-imposed, it can come from others too (more on that later, maybe!), but in my case, it's all me, baby. It's me telling myself that I'm not living up to something that I'm simply not called to live up to, Biblically speaking. I think that conviction, on the other hand, is from the Holy Spirit and points out the places where I'm not living up to what I AM called to do... like say, live peaceably with all men, or any number of Scriptural mandates. The hard part is figuring out which one I'm feeling at the moment. Sometimes it's clear to me in my head, and sometimes it's really confusing. And understanding is only half the battle, the other half is actually pulling out of the fog of feelings. Reminding myself of scripture verses helps, listening to friends speak the truth is a huge help for me too. Sometimes I just have to beg God for grace in the moment to get me out of the slump, and keep me out. And He will... He does. It was for freedom that we were set free!
I know I've quoted this song here before, but I can't get over how good it is... the message of freedom- freedom FROM my sinful self-centeredness, and freedom TO confidence, love, joy, and peace- is HOPE, even for selfish, whiny, self-condemning people like me.
Derek Webb's Lover. Watch it.
Lyrics | Derek Webb - Lover lyrics
My favorite verse is the last:
"I am my beloveds and my beloved's mine
so you bring all your history and I'll bring the bread and wine
and we'll have us a party where all the drinks are on me
then as surely as the rising sun you will be set free "
It's just humbling and amazing to me that His blood + body are for ME right now, and continuously, as I struggle through the daily ins and outs of life, not just for "my past". That's power and promise that changes me from my fog of self-centeredness, (*whine, whine* "I'm not doing everything right" "I'm not PerfectWoman!" *whine whine*) guilt, and shame, to humble confidence that my God is (right now!) supplying what I need to do what He as asked me to do. He is enough. And that brings me freedom.
(Now I need to remember this "preaching to myself" post tomorrow- when PerfectWoman appears in my mind again, wearing heels and an apron around her 25-inch waist, pulling rack of lamb out of the oven!)
6 years ago