I was talking to my husband’s grandmother a few weeks ago, Mawmaw Lock, whom I love dearly. She talked about guilt over one issue after another. One thing she kept mentioning is that she felt guilty for not calling me back sooner and kept putting it off for fear I was upset with her. I immediately said “Mawmaw, you were in the hell generation.”
She laughed and then gasped, “Michelle, What did you just say?”
I said “Mawmaw, you were in the hell generation. The one where you were made to feel guilty all the time. Where you were threatened with going to hell all the time. Right?”
Her response was, “Well, yes, I guess. But hell is real and I do know I don’t want to go there.” To which I agreed “Yes, and I don’t want to go there either.” Then I went on to tell her that she needed to stop apologizing all the time. Stop feeling guilty. I reassured her that I was not mad. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t call me for two weeks; I still want her to call when she can so I can hear her voice. Because I love her.
Suddenly she softened and said “I guess that’s how people fall away from God. All that guilt.” I agreed again.
One of the reason’s I adore my (step) father-in-law is because he truly loves people and he loves God. I like that he doesn’t walk around feeling guilty and defeated all the time. I also like that I don’t walk around feeling guilty and defeated all the time. Of course I feel conviction at times. Of course I try to avoid doing bad things and sinning. Fact is, I do sin and fall way short of the glory of God, just like the rest of us. I also have ‘guilty pleasures’ like the rest of us. You have them too… music, sweets, movies, overeating, solitaire, Candy Crush, or whatever it is.
When people say horrible things about pastors or priest being too grace or prosperity driven and not serious enough about God it saddens me. How much more serious can you be to put His love, joy, and grace for everybody first? Do you have to put hell and condemnation at the forefront for people to believe you serve God? Do you have to talk about people going to hell to be a Christian? I know it’s hard to put love above all things; I fail at it regularly. What I do know is I don’t want to be weighed down with all the negativity. I want to have joy and spread it. (well, ok…anyone who serves me in the drive thru would probably disagree, but I’m working on it! My kids always say if I died tomorrow many people would come to my funeral though none of them would be my drive thru people; with the exception of Starbucks…they’ll be in reserved seating.)
Over the years I have met quite a few people who live with the hell mentality or even just a guilt mentality. It makes them miserable. It makes some of them even condemn others because they feel condemned all the time; it’s just what they were taught. And it’s sad. I want to give those people a big hug and say “I love you”. (Well, not always, some of them I want to slap over the head with my phone and tell them to stop making everybody else feel unwelcome by God.)
One thing about me and guilt is you can’t MAKE me feel guilty. People can try but that either annoys me or makes them look stupid – or both. If I don’t feel bad or convicted over something already then nothing you say will change that. Not to say I don’t take responsibility, because I do. I am a passionate person, so emotions are my thing! I just happen to be pretty fine tuned with what I do and don’t feel. And while I may be incited into feeling many things, guilt isn’t one of them.
“You know, I don’t think I can change that. Been too long feeling this way.” Mawmaw Lock added finally.
I am not perfect. However, I sure don’t want to live with guilt all the time. It’s too heavy for me. And I sure don’t want to be the person responsible for condemning other people. That’s too heavy for me also.
“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-34
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
“Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Matthew 9:13