Confession: I don’t like reading Christian self-help books because they make me feel guilty. “Be Radical, and Not a Fan. Do Hard Things and don’t be a part of The Slumber of Christianity...” there are so many more. The books tell me that where I am is never good enough. They tell me to press on, work harder, and become a better Christian, as if there even was such a thing. Or maybe that’s not even what they say, but it’s what I perceive them as saying because I struggle with guilt. I’ve written about that on here before. I struggle with guilt, and lately I’m struggling with whether or not it’s ok to have guilt as a motivator. Because it’s probably not a healthy motivator, but it is effective, but I don’t want my relationship with God to run off of guilt…And so the vicious circle of thought goes. I’ve come to no conclusion.
I once read a commentor on a Christian blog say that she refused to read her Bible out of guilt. She would only read it if she truly wanted to, and thus hadn’t read it in quite some time. But, I said to myself, good habits never happen if you don’t start. And you won’t want to read it if you don’t start and get a taste of it for some reason. So in that case denying guilt its motivational power hurts you deeply, yet doing everything out of a sense of guilt has to be just as bad. “It is for freedom’s sake that Christ has set you free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1) Guilt has no part in freedom.
I recently listened to a friend talk about getting back with God after not having spent much time with Him in a while. She talked of picking up right where she left off, of grace, and fulfillment. I was happy for her, but also envious. Why can’t it be that easy for my heart to accept the truth of grace, love, and forgiveness that I believe in my head? I’m technically free. I’m not supposed to be a slave to guilt anymore, but I am because I let myself be. I am choosing chains. Why is it so hard for me to accept that while progress and growth in Christ are important, I am accepted, loved, and cherished…that I am good enough where I am? Because really it doesn’t matter how much of a better Chrstian I become I will never be worthy of the grace and forgiveness God has lavished on me. I will never be worthy of His love. It’s a gift, so why can’t I accept and embrace it as such instead of trying to earn it?
Guilt is futile, a needlessly stressing, unnecessary indulgence. I hate it. I hate the weight I bear while carrying it around, but I just can’t seem to get rid of it. I can’t seem to unclench my little fists long enough to let God take it. And always, just when I think I’ve given it to Him I take it back again. I know that “I can’t fly ’til I step aside” and “rest easy” in the grace of God. I know that this relationship wasn’t meant to be guilt-ridden. It doesn’t have to be. I know that I am the one who is making it so. But I am bad at stepping aside. But I need to, oh I need to!
I yearn to feel freedom. I long to be rid of this churning, nagging weight. I want to live as I am called to because “My sins are erased, and they are no more. They’re on the ocean floor.” I desire to believe with my heart as well as my head the truth of my identity as the cherished, worthy daughter of the the King. Maybe that should be the goal for this segment of my journey–embracing grace. It has a nice ring to it. If only doing that was as easy as it sounds.
*Disclaimer. I really do like the books I referenced here. Read them. They’re amazing. They just make me feel guilty sometimes…