So I found myself in bit of a melancholy mood this evening and as usual began to analyze the cause. Then reprimanded myself as I ate something I thought I shouldn’t have. Then I continued to procrastinate cleaning up the dishes and started beating myself up over that too. Then I tried to distract myself long enough to do the dishes as I began to dream about what I would be doing right now if I could do anything I wanted (if money and logistics were not an issue). As I dreamed I found myself again giving myself a guilt trip because I kept thinking of all the “shoulds”.

In my mind guilt and sin are the main robbers of joy. They’re connected obviously, and for good reason. But I can also see how they can cause problems in and of themselves. Even if a person does not feel guilty about doing something wrong they will not feel joy because they’ve hardened themselves enough that they won’t feel (or acknowledge) guilt so thus they will not be able to feel joy either. I think the same holds true for guilt. We can feel guilty even when we’ve done nothing wrong simply because there is an expectation set in our mind that says what we are doing is “wrong”.

I actually thought of this earlier today when I began to scold my 3 yr. old for getting into my scone batter for the 100th time (yes, I exaggerate). Then the thought came to me, is this REALLY something I need to make a big deal about? And even if I do need her to stop do I need to make her feel GUILTY about it? Isn’t there another way? So I explained to her that I needed her to move so I could finish getting the scones ready and when they were done she could have one. There you have it, she moved, no harm, no foul.

Do things always go this smoothly when I try to be reasonable, rather than reprimanding? Nope. Is there no place for guilt in the realm of discipline? No, I think guilt is a very useful and necessary part of discipline. People need to know when they’ve done something wrong and guilt can be an excellent indicator of that. But, I don’t think it needs to be a primary tool for parenting. I also see that many kids today do not answer as well to the “guilt-trip”.

I’m no expert but I see a difference in kids of this generation. They are more intense, smarter, innovative, and fearless. I’m finding children now-a-days answer better to love, compassion, respect, and logic. If they know you love them, that you are trying to understand them and you think they are important, they will listen and if you’re being fair or at least honest they will usually oblige. Besides, I don’t want my kids to grow up feeling guilty every time they start to feel happy just because they’ve had an unrealistic expectation placed inside their mind, by ME.

Here’s the thing. I’m tired of being robbed of joy simply because I think I “should” have done something else. Maybe I should have. Does that make it “wrong”? I’m not talking about morality here. I’m saying, do I have to be robbed of the pleasure of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich just cause “I shouldn’t eat that.”, do I have to be robbed of the peace that comes from writing in my journal simply because “I should have done the dishes first.”, do I have to be robbed of the happiness I feel from actually sitting down and having a real conversation with my husband or watching a movie with him just because, “I should have mopped first and I should iron while I’m watching.” If I’m not degrading myself or anyone else by doing it than kick the guilt to the curb and feel the joy!

P.S. Don’t worry. The dishes will still be there when you’re done…..


2 thoughts on “Trippin’

  1. My dear Megan,
    Guilt is Satan at work; Joy is God at work. We get to choose. There will always be temptation; there will always be choice. We will always at times choose wrong. There will always await the hammer of guilt; there will always be offered the Grace of forgiveness and learning.

    “Count it all Joy my brothers (and sisters), when you meet trials of various kinds.” James 1:2

    Long ago I learned the when trials are faced we should always, (figuratively speaking) turn to the right. Turn into a problem; never away from it. And consider ‘right’ or wrong; make a decision and then move into it and move on. If you make a wrong choice, turn to the grace of Jesus, repent, accept forgiveness and move forward a wiser person for the experience. We should feel guilt for sinful decisions, but we repent, accept God’s gracious forgiveness and we don’t have to and should not drag guilt along afterwards. Holding onto guilt after accepting God’s forgiveness is a sin. It is rejecting God’s promise.

    But enough. I love your heart for walking the Way of Jesus. I enjoy your writings.

    Always for what its worth,

    Uncle Ron

    1. Thanks Uncle Ron for your eloquent words. You’re right, guilt does not come from God. It is a consequence of sin and we have the miraculous power of the atonement to wash away it’s affects. Unfortunately, Satan knows this as well and uses guilt as a tool to rob us of joy, by tricking us into unrealistic expectations and/or worldly expectations. And as you so validly pointed out, we always have a choice. What a great plan of happiness our Father in Heaven has given us! Thank you for your kind and insightful words and have a great 4th of July!

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