Best bumper sticker ever is the above title: “My Mother is my travel agent for a guilt trip.” I nearly wrecked my car one day when I approached a car with this funny phrase adhered to its’ bumper. I cried I laughed so hard.
I later recounted this to my Mother who found no humor in this whatsoever.
None, nada, zip. Hmph…
I don’t know about you, but it’s fair to say our boys would tattle on my mothering skills, saying I’m gifted in the area of guilt. Guilt, manipulation, control—they all go hand in hand, wouldn’t you agree?!!!
Years and years and years ago, back when John and I were dating…I’d drag him along with my parents to Owensboro, Kentucky. My Aunt, whom I’m named for, started a Thanksgiving tradition of hosting a boatload of relatives. (If you remember the children’s book The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant, it’s frighteningly similar!)
At the time, John and I were attending UK (The University of Kentucky) in Lexington, Kentucky. My parents lived in Lexington, so we all rode together to Owensboro. Three hours one-way gave us plenty of time to catch up. Mother was in her element. Daddy simply tagged along.
One year I suggested we try going every other year, thus skipping this particular one. “Oh dear, we couldn’t possibly not go…” Mother replied quickly, followed by a very, very, v-e-r-y long sigh….and then… here’s where she poured forth the guilt: “At Bem’s age… (that was my Aunt’s nickname), we just never know how many years she has left.” Daddy and I rolled our eyes over that one.
Granted Bem was Mother’s sister, and Mother wanted to see her and her other sisters, June and Louise. But, I’m here to tell you Bem lived twenty plus more years after that little discussion. God rest her sweet soul.
This week, from my new favorite attached-at-the-hip-handbook: Fear, Faith and a Fistful of Chocolates—Wit and Wisdom for Sidestepping Life’s Worries by Debora M. Coty, we’re going to tackle the topic of guilt. I know, I know, ‘tis a challenge du jour for most of us, therefore, well worth our time…
Chapter Four is very helpful for us addicted-to-being-guilty-for-something, while killer funny. It’s title? Had Your Vitamin G Today? (Guilt)
Note: Do NOT miss the cat story within the chapter. There is nothing more comical on the planet. I simply cannot reveal a tidbit. YOU must read it, and aloud, to all your friends!
Debora offers, “Guilt’s effect is kind of like a vitamin in reverse. Instead of nourishing our bodies, it depletes our spirits. And yet we faithfully keep popping that vitamin G (Guilt) every day as if we can’t live without it.”
Look at those last six words: “as if we can’t live without it”…Remember last week we talked about toxic talk? (For more information, click here) Wallowing in guilt, over and over, ranks right up there with toxic talk. And pretty much no one wants to jump in our trenches of guilt we keep digging.
Debora tells of a friend named Esther who “uses a great mental tool to help her resist picking guilt back up.” Esther said, “Guilt is a dead thing…If you think of old, already forgiven sin as a dead thing, imagine you’re digging it up from its grave every time you revisit it.” That pretty visual surely makes one think…
Corrie Ten Boom puts it another way. She said, “God casts our sin into the depths of the ocean and posts a ‘No fishin’’ sign.” Beautiful. God’s grace at its’ finest. We just need to remember it!
“How far has the Lord taken our sins from us? Farther than the distance from east to west!” Psalm 103:12 CEV
My Life Application Bible says, “East and west can never meet. This is a symbolic portrait of God’s forgiveness—when he forgives our sin, he separates it from us and doesn’t even remember it. We need never wallow in the past, for God forgives and forgets. We tend to dredge up the ugly past, but God has wiped our record clean.”
As Mother’s health deteriorated, especially after Daddy died, she used the phone less and less. Miraculously, I quit guilting over visiting every day. One day, however, we were talking and I said, “Well, Mom, I’ll come see you tomorrow, okay?”
Her reply sent me reeling once more…She said, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, always tomorrow…” Making me think she did realize I wasn’t coming every day. Right back into that pit of guilt I fell…
Friends, Guilt is not from God, it’s from Satan. The Holy Spirit may convict us of something, but shame and blame is Satan’s game.
Debora reminds us that “Satan, the archenemy of our souls, is using our guilt to separate us from our Lord. That’s what ‘the accuser’ does best. He accuses us mercilessly and racks us with guilt that makes us feel worthless and unworthy of Papa God’s love.” Noteworthy warning!
Oh, but there’s GOOD NEWS…Debora says, “The Accuser underestimates our Savior’s mercy. The all-encompassing forgiveness and acceptance led Paul to proclaim, ‘There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.’” (Romans 8:1-2 NLT)
Let’s all write that verse on a post-it note and stick it on our mirrors, our car’s dashboards, wherever we’ll see it daily. It is time to ditch the guilt. Especially with the Christmas season in our midst! The song doesn’t say, “Deck the halls with bows of guilt,” does it???!!!
Let’s vow to move forward, basking in His peace and His blessed assurance we are forgiven and there is no more guilt weighing heavy on our shoulders.
‘Til next time!
This post is dedicated to the famous Daves sisters: My Mom being one of ‘em. Seems our cousins who are still living, refer to us possessing “The Daves Factor”, as in a teensy weensy streak of some-kind-of-stubborn. So, in Heaven, we happily envision Bem, June, Louise and Mother having endless conversations.
They help us all remember Jude 21: “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”