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Posts Tagged ‘parental guilt’

Poor sick baby drinking pedialyte.

August 2012 will always be remembered as the month I wish to forget.

We have spent the entire month thus far being ransacked by the terrible Mexico stomach bug that hitchhiked its way back to Texas with my husband’s mission trip team. David came home from Juarez feeling awful. About five days later, husband still sick, Solomon came down with it. Five days later, I followed.

I’m a pretty energetic person, so slowing down and taking care of myself is always difficult. Inevitably God has something more up his sleeve in those times when I can’t get out of bed. Usually He has some talking to do while He has me as a captive audience. One of the things being something I will call “misplaced guilt”.

Now maybe I’m the only one who ever struggles with a sense of guilt when other people are in pain. But I think I’m a normal enough person, and with that said I’m going to go ahead and assume other people struggle with this too. Are you a person that feels a sense of guilt when other people are suffering? Do you feel like you need to fix other people’s hurt, pain, or trials?

For me this is an issue of a good thing gone bad. Because, of course, it’s a good thing to be empathetic, to be able to feel for others, to have the drive of justice for people, and to nurture and help hurting people, but it’s a bad thing when you feel a sense of guilt or responsibility for others pain. Often times, I literally bare the burdens of others and feel devastated and like a failure when others hurt.

Sure this seems noble enough… but is it? Is it really a noble thing to feel the need to personally save another person? Or is that just a gracious cover up for pride and self-sufficiency?

This stomach bug was the first time my little boy has been sick. It totally freaked me out! I was home alone when his fever spiked to 104. As the numbers on the thermometer were rising, my heart started beating faster and faster. My mind started racing. It went from, “What am I going to do?!” to “How to I make this better?” to “What did I do to make him get sick?” to “I must be a terrible mother!”…and commence downward woman spiral. A spiral that continued to run me down and keep me up until I was sick and in a position to ultimately listen to what God had to say about all of this.

What I realized was this, misplaced guilt thing isn’t noble. It’s sin. And it isn’t just something I do when my sweet baby boy is sick. It’s something I do a lot. The fact is this guilt doesn’t come from a place of love. It comes from a place of fear, a desire to control, and a deep sense of pride. I’m trying to be a savior, and I’m a really bad savior. And for that, I feel guilty.

My goal in this life isn’t to save the world and all the people I love from any hurt. The goal of my life is to simply point to the One who already did save them. It isn’t about feeling wonderful because of all the good things I can do. It’s all about what Jesus can and did do, and about Him getting the glory He deserves. I will fail people. But there is One that will never fail them.

When I take on guilt, I’m preaching a false Gospel, a gospel that doesn’t save. I’m telling everyone a message that isn’t true and changes nothing. The true gospel is about One who out of love humbled Himself and became a servant to the point of death. Not to erase guilt, or merely feel guilty, but to destroy the guilt. He placed my guilt on his shoulders. He is the One who could actually do something with the true weight of sin and pain. He bore my pain on his shoulders and defeated death once and for all. And he offered me his record of righteousness. He cloaked my broken shoulders with all that he has to offer.

Practically, it’s my job to trust in the finished work that Jesus did on the cross and to speak to others about how they can trust Him too. Living a life like that actually does something about what people are dealing with and going through. It gives them hope! Living a life like that teaches my little boy something real when he’s sick. Feelings of guilt are natural feelings that normal humans experience. There’s a longing in all of us to see guilt be reconciled. It’s our call to believe and declare in this life that, “It is finished” in Jesus, the true Savior of the world.

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