I don’t know about you, but sometimes I allow guilt to tag along and even climb up on my back. (Keep in mind, guilt is not the same thing as conviction where we’re definitely going against God’s will, and He’s letting us know about it.)
Guilt is like this monster with jagged teeth crunching when it whispers in my ear, insisting I’m doing it all wrong and reminding me how I’ve failed so many people. And every time I listen to it, it’s like it’s feeding off of me, getting heavier as my soul starves and I lose more of myself.
I’m pretty tired of it. I’m pretty tired of worrying about what other people think and the guilt that I’m letting someone down no matter what I’m doing. I’m tired of trying to live up to other people’s expectations of what my life should look like. I’m tired, tired, tired.
Am I the only one who feels this way? I don’t think I am or God wouldn’t have brought this up to me when I prayed and asked Him what He wanted this post to be about. So let me ask you: Are you hauling around the same guilt monster who’s getting bigger and bigger and you’re wondering how long you can last under its weight, wondering how long before it crushes you completely? What in the world are we supposed to do? I’ve been praying…
We stop focusing on people and really fix our eyes on God. It sounds easy. It makes sense. But doing it is a whole other thing. That means when someone asks and maybe even expects you to do something, you go to God first and ask Him what you should do. If He says, “Yes,” then go ahead. But if He says, “No” or you don’t have any peace about it, then respectfully decline. Be very clear that you are honestly trying to follow God’s plan for your life. If people get mad at you for that, pray for them. They’re probably hauling around the guilt monster’s cousin, overload.
Let me be clear. I’m NOT saying we shouldn’t serve and help others. We absolutely should! But if we are motivated by guilt and not love, are we really serving others or are we just trying to outrun the monster?
How can you tell if you’re motivated by love or guilt? Are you praying and asking God to lead you in all you do or are you so worried about letting others down that you run ahead of Him and agree to things without waiting on Him for an answer?
Here’s an example He showed me: If you were to give someone flowers out of guilt, the flowers may as well be dead. There’s no love, only obligation as if you were saying, “Here. I did this for you. You’re welcome,” as you walk away feeling relieved.
But if you’re serving out of love it would be like picking flowers for someone because you saw something beautiful you wanted to share with that person. There’s excitement and joy in giving those flowers. There is no guilt involved, only love for that person. (Monster? What monster? Love is the antidote that makes it shrivel up and fall right off your back!)
And we shouldn’t feel guilt when we seek God and refuse to be sucked into the people-pleasing centrifuge. You know, where you’re stuck against the wall and you can’t move or do anything new, not even what God has gifted or called you to do. You’re stuck doing the same thing or stuck doing all the things other people bring to you to do. What about what God wants you to do? There will be no time for that. You’ll be too busy focusing on the crowd around you, their demands, and their wants while God waits. Maybe the world is waiting too. Waiting for you to show up and be who God created you to be, and who we all need you to be.
“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” (Galatians 1:10 NLT.)