OH my lands, the pace. I am feeling (and probably looking :) like an old woman.
A friend who knows me well emailed me today, without me saying anything about it, and asked me not to choose guilt. To go, to rest, to choose rest. She even asked me to "enjoy."
As soon as she said it, I realized again how the enemy hardest for me to fight is almost ALWAYS guilt.
Even when I am self-professed tired, and I don't get there easy. Even when Granny brings me a huge list of meat and milk and produce that need processed and paid for and supplied by Monday morning, and I feel uncharacteristically overwhelmed by it...and I know I need a break. Even when we're cooking for 18 while chatting with Dorothy tonight, and I realize how the 4 weeks a semester of visitors we used to have when they lived here is now about 4 weeks a year total without visitors. (You KNOW I love all of our fantastic visitors and am blessed beyond measure to care for them...but it does wear a girl out!) Even when cleaning up the girls' legos is getting impossible over my growing belly...
Having others here so that we can go makes me feel guilty. Leaving our Emmaus team to cover everything makes me feel guilty. Leaving before the year is over makes me feel guilty...missing graduation (Matt will be back for that, but the girls and I won't...), not doing and being what it feels like I'm supposed to be doing and being. All of it makes me feel guilty.
And I will feel guilty next week eating ice cream the Heckmans want, too.
What is that about so many of us? Plagued by guilt? Often controlled by it.
I even find myself feeling guilty for things that have absolutely NOTHING to do with me, it runs so deep. Guilty that I am pregnant when so many wish to be. Guilty that I am married when I can't seem to find the perfect man for you. Guilty that I'm so far away when family and friends would rather us there, guilty we're coming there when friends and family wish we were staying here. Guilty buying plane tickets when so many are hungry.
Yeah, it runs deep.
Not long after my mom passed away in 2003, I was back at Asbury, trying to keep it together, and someone told me I should go see one of the college's free counsellors. I resisted the idea for a long time, having grown up in a very opposite to "get help" kind of culture.
But for the first time in my life, I could NOT seem to pull myself up by my own bootstraps, couldn't seem to carry on, couldn't chin up, couldn't smile it through. Eventually, this newfound total weak brokenness led me to a whole new walk with the Lord, (praise Him) but at the time, it finally led me to sitting with a kind but straightforward older lady once a week, mostly just bawling my eyes out on her couch and knowing that this was NOT going to help, because even in needing help I didn't need help. pride.
She let me blubber and eventually led me identify this same enemy of today as the true culprit in my inability to eat, my inability to sleep, my inability to find the Lord in the midst of it, even my inability to breathe, it felt like.
I felt SO GUILTY. Guilty for so much. From little things I'd done or said over the years to mom, to little ways I'd failed her, from awful moments in the hospital when I should have been a better friend and not so selfish, even for the moments of her death when I thought she was sleeping and sat idly by. Totally paralyzed, not only by sorrow over the death of my mom...but totally paralyzed simply by my own guilt.
It was in this realization that I remember the lady saying to me, "So, is that guilt from the Lord?"
I remember my first thought being, "Of course, I deserve to feel guilty. Didn't you hear all of that awful stuff I just told you??" to realizing as I said it out loud that that didn't really SOUND like my Lord.
As we started to talk about guilt and how it differs from conviction, I started to be able to take each ugly pain in my heart and bring it to the Lord, asking Him if this was a conviction of sin, or if it was guilt not of Him. I began realizing that our loving God CONVICTS our hearts...not plagues them with guilt. Started to realize the huge difference. Started to see God meet each pain, either with conviction met with my devastated confession of sin and His forgiveness and healing, or Him taking burdens of guilt away, burdens He'd never bestowed.
As I sit here tonight, thinking about all of the guilt for x, y and z I am tempted to be consumed by right now, I remember her few words, and ask Him if my guilt over ice cream is conviction of the Holy Spirit. If my guilt over others helping us take a short break is guilt or conviction. If my guilt over NOT cooking for others for a few weeks and finding a Wendys, a Bob Evans, an ANYWHERE instead is conviction of His Holy Spirit, or life-sucking, joy robbing, weighty deceiving GUILT.
Of Him, or NOT of Him.
We've been through a lot, together, He and I, praise the Lord. So have you.
And we know His voice. I know my Father's voice.
Well enough to know, as soon as I force myself the true reflection of each dark spot, each lie and each Truth.
The real question is: when we recognize the truth from the lies, when we recognize His voice, do we TRUST Him? When He shows me the conviction from the guilt, do I TRUST Him enough to give up the guilty spots and to embrace the truth with His freedom?
Today, as He died, do I not only KNOW His voice, but do I TRUST it? Enough to let His conviction change my heart and His desire to take away my guilt free me? Walk me into freedom?
Do I trust Him?
Does my life reflect it?
Let us trust Him in a way that changes our hearts and lives...the only kind of real trust there is.
He is at work. Let us trust Him, that He might continue to be.