The guilt starts early. I wake up and look at the clock, blinking the sleep from my eyes to make sure. The digital numbers proclaim 8:06. I've done it again. The alarm went off at 7:30, but I silenced it and fell back to sleep. Instead of spending that half hour with God, I spent it with my face smashed against the pillow.
Rolling out of bed, I stumble to the closet to find an outfit, then downstairs to eat a speedy breakfast. Having made no conscious decisions, I am sitting at the kitchen table, indulging in a plate of syrup-drenched waffles.
Oh, wait. The first bite is sweet. Warm butter oozes from the waffle. I was going to eat oatmeal this morning. The decadent waffle adopts the flavor of sawdust. So much for eating healthy.
On the forty-minute drive to work, a stream of songs from the radio lulls me into a stupor. Much later, I remember my intention to use this morning's commute for prayer, since several friends are in the midst of difficult trials. I groan and hit the steering wheel. The weight of guilt gets heavier.
So it continues. Good intentions melt like chocolate in a hot car. A day of purposeful living turns into one of laziness and apathy. By the end of the day, I'm staggering under the weight of accumulated guilt. Like Paul in Romans 7:18, "I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." With minimal resistance, I yield to the surrounding temptations and choose to indulge my flesh. Instead of serving God and others, I serve myself. It's easy. It requires no effort. Selfishness comes naturally. Guilt follows at its heels, falling on me with the weight of a thousand bricks.
This type of guilt disguises itself as humility. Shouldn't I beat myself up for skipping quiet time? It seems right to feel guilty.
The problem with accepting such guilt is that it allows me to continue the self-deprecating thoughts. I'm a failure, a loser, and a lousy Christian. I shouldn't bother trying again tomorrow or pausing at this moment to check in with Jesus. I'll only disappoint Him again. How can He put up with someone who professes to know Him but forgets to spend any time with Him?
Sometimes I feel like God can cover the "big" sins but not the "little" sins. Why can a person fall on her knees to receive healing and forgiveness for a sexual sin, but she can't accept the same grace for surfing the internet during her prayer time? Perhaps because the little mistakes—the daily ones—seem "easy" to avoid. I should be able to get up and read the Bible every morning. I should remember to pray for my friend who has cancer. If I can't even do these things, well, I'm a failure at life.
That's right. On my own, I am a failure at life. I can't remember to seek God or even desire to seek Him without the work of the Holy Spirit. In life's darkest hours, I realize that and depend on Him for the strength to do the simplest tasks. When life is numbed by routine, I forget my weakness and try to use willpower to serve God. But it doesn't work. Because I can't measure up, the weight of guilt comes crashing down instead. I end up believing end up believing that God's grace is not available every day: only on special occasions.
The language of the New Testament confirms that God does not want me to be trapped in an endless cycle of guilt like a hamster on a wheel. Paul writes that "the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:2). He tells the Galatians, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1). It's clear that Jesus came to set His people free from sin and its resulting guilt.
According to Paul, the secret of evading the magnetic pull of life under the law is to live consciously in the Spirit. Life in the Spirit does not mean complete avoidance of temptation and sin. In the world, I will be tempted and make mistakes. These facts are depressing, but there is better news. Christ's sacrifice is complete. He has paid for every sin and for every mistake—past, present, and future. When I confess sin, He forgives it. Just as a musician stops at the moment he plays a wrong note and goes back to get it right, so I must stop at the moment of self-indulgence and settle the matter with God. Yes, it's disappointing to fail. I'll accept the natural consequences. But I won't shoulder a single brick of guilt. God says that confession results in forgiveness, and forgiveness means freedom from guilt.
It's the twilight of a long day, and the drive home after Wednesday night Bible study provides time to think. At the study, I felt led to share something. Because of fear or laziness, I didn't say it. As the sunset's rosy fingers splay across the western sky, a familiar temptation approaches and I can almost feel the weight of guilt. Something prompts me to stop, consider, and remember. I take a reluctant moment to pray, admitting to God that I didn't obey and asking for His help when another opportunity comes.
I take a deep breath. Freedom. Finally, I'm weightless.
Welcome to Ungrind!
Do you want to be inspired, motivated, and equipped to live the everyday story of your life well?
If so, you’re in the right place. Whether you need encouragement in your relationships or in your faith, I hope you’ll find the transparent voices of mentors and friends here at Ungrind.
So, grab a cup of coffee and keep reading. We're so glad you're here!
Ashleigh Slater, Founder & Managing Editor
Get Our Free Ebook!
What Not to Say to Someone Grieving a Miscarriage
Here are a few things not to say to someone grieving a miscarriage.
To Those Who Want To Be Truly Happy: Stop Chasing Happiness
Chasing happiness isn't all it's cracked up to be. Here are a few reasons why.
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions
The Psalms is a book that's rich with the reality of what life's like in this fallen world. Here are...
3 Ways to Navigate Personality Differences
Sometimes personality differences can wear on us. Here are three ways we can navigate them in a loving manner.
Surprised By ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’
If you haven't seen this film, God may speak to your heart through it in ways you weren't expecting.
The Wedding Ring
Are you struggling in your marriage? Here's how a wedding ring helped one wife fight for her marriage.
5 Ways to Live an Out-of-Control Life
Here are 5 ways to let go of control and trust your present and your future to God.
What Women Are Saying
-- Sarah Martin, author of Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties in a Decade of Drama
"Real life is not always pleasant. Every marriage experiences disappointments, misunderstandings, sickness and financial crisis. Ashleigh doesn’t camouflage the pain in her own marriage, and offers practical ideas on how to walk through the difficulties and find intimacy on the journey. If you are anything like me, I predict that as you read, you too will find yourself laughing, wiping tears, and saying 'Oh, yes.'"
-- Gary Chapman, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The 5 Love Languages
We are a member of the Amazon affiliate program and regularly use affiliate links. If you purchase an item from an Amazon link we provide, we will receive a small referral commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. We only share books, music, and products that our writers personally have used and highly recommend.
Faith4 years ago
When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds
Motherhood4 years ago
Surviving a Strong-Willed Child
Faith5 years ago
7 Ways to Create A Family Altar
Friendship6 years ago
Beyond the Registry: The Ultimate Gift Guide for Expectant Parents
Relationships9 months ago
5 Ways to Teach Your Child to Hear God
Marriage6 years ago
4 Reasons I’m Not Facebook Friends With My Husband
Everyday Faith5 years ago
6 Simple Ways to Give Thanks in the Thick of It
Articles6 years ago
10 Ways Life is Like a Box of Chocolates
Articles7 years ago
How to Lift Up the One You Love
Articles6 years ago
Relationships1 year ago
Facing Our Motherhood Fears
Digging Into Scripture6 months ago
How the Psalms Speak to Our Emotions