Jan 17, 2012

Promises and Guilt

Promises promises... My mom used to tell me when I was a kid not to swear, because God doesn't like it. I think the lesson was left over from her rigorous Catholic school training. As I grew a little older, I was like "You mean 'swear' like to say a bad word, right? Not like "I swear..." Nope, she actually meant that I shouldn't say "I swear I will..." I remember being really surprised that God supposedly didn't like this. It seemed to me like promising to do something is something he would want us to do.

I still don't actually understand why God would have a problem with me "swearing" to write a blog post every single day for a week, but I do kinda get now why it is a problem. It's because we just do what we can do. We can't determine the future, so how can we promise that we will absolutely do something in it? For me, promising to do something and then failing to do it just adds to my never-ending guilt, and believe me that's the last thing I need in my life.

Guilt has been racking my mind and body my whole life, and it seems to have only gotten worse as I've aged. I decided in late 2011 that 2012 would be the year of "Guilt Free" for me. I feel like I should clarify, however, that this doesn't mean that I'm going to go hog wild doing things that I know are wrong and not atone for them. Rather, I'm just going to do what I can, and not freak out and kill myself with guilt over the things that I can't do, the situations that I can't control, or the people that I can't please every single time.

I have thought about guilt a lot in the last few years, actually, and I've come to the realization that

  1. God doesn't want me to feel guilty
  2. Guilt keeps me from doing things that are good for me 
  3. Guilt cultivates within me horribly negative thoughts about myself and my abilities

Based on these, I have determined that since God doesn't want me to feel guilt, and guilt causes me to think horrible things about myself, that guilt must from the dark place within me that I do not want to feed. Feeding that part of me can only lead to sadness. There were times in my life when I lived mostly through that other me, and I was absolutely miserable, and miserable to be around. I won't ever go back there. 

So, 2012 is the year of Guilt Free for me, which also means not making promises that I may not be able to keep. I will not "swear" that I will do something, I will only try my best to do it. When I realize that all I can do is my best, and I do my best in every endeavor, I feel closer to God than ever. And that's the best feeling.


Yum Yucky said...

It's so refreshing to read this. Not only because of how you feel, but also because it's really touched me as a reminder of these very same things for myself --touch me straight to the heart. Our Lord is a God of freedom, not burdens.

Laura said...

Thanks, Josie. That means a lot. I have to remind myself every day... :)

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