Guilt or Love?


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.)


The First Snowflake


I remember art class in grade school and how we passed around a leaf pattern made of cardstock. After we traced, cut-out, and colored our leaves, our teacher would hang them somewhere in the classroom or out in the hallway.

The leaves were basically the same. There was a difference in the way we colored them of course, but the shape and size were identical.  Why wouldn’t they be?  We used the same pattern.

The idea of using the same pattern as everyone else is fine for an elementary art project, but what about real life? Are you using the same pattern as everyone else so you’ll fit in or you’ll just feel better about yourself?  Maybe you’re afraid of letting other people down instead of considering that you’re letting God down.  Are you choosing that worn-out, old pattern others are using instead of being who God wants you to be?

It’s hard to turn down the pattern, to go against the norm and stand alone. But sometimes you have to do it to become who God wants you to be.

He doesn’t want you to be just like everyone else, or He would have made you that way. In a world full of cut-out leaves, He wants you to be His one-of-a-kind masterpiece, unique and memorable like that first snowflake of a new season; one that will astonish the world.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing, and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV.)


The Eye of the Storm


I was talking to God about you last night.  I asked Him what He wanted to tell you, what you needed to hear.  We were about to watch a movie and during the previews a Scripture came to my mind, and I knew it was for you.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Maybe you’re overwhelmed, stressed-out, burned-out, or just plain worn-out right now, and you’re wondering how long is this going to last?  Do you feel like you’re in a storm, a chaotic rush of things needing done or people demanding more of you, and you feel you have nothing more to give?  Do you feel like it’s knocking the wind right out of you and you can’t breathe?

Jesus knows.  He sees you right now.  Imagine Him offering you His hand with this sort of expression that says, “Come here and catch your breath for a minute.  Rest with me.”

Maybe you’re wondering, “How can I rest?  I have too much to do.”

Let’s keep going with what Jesus said:

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”    

Okay, what in the world?  A yoke?

A few years ago we went to an Amish farm and saw this massive, black ox yoked to a smaller one.  I had never seen an ox up close before nor had I ever seen one yoked to another.  When I started to pet the big guy, he turned so I could scratch his face in another area that must have itched (or maybe he wanted to get a better look at the woman who was “oohing” and “ahhing” about how beautiful he was).  Whatever the reason, when he turned, the little guy beside him did too.  Whenever the big guy stuck his mouth into the food trough, the little one had to follow along.

So I have to ask, who or what are you yoked to that is wearing you out?  What are you following?  The world?  Let’s narrow it down a bit…are you yoked to people instead of Jesus?  People may try to go easy on you but sometimes they’ll hurt you or overwhelm you.  Some may even load up the guilt if you don’t perform to their standards or do what they think you should be doing.  Not Jesus.  He’s “gentle and humble in heart.”  He’s not going to burn you out.  Why would He?  He loves you, and He doesn’t want to see you suffering with anxiety or panic attacks.  He has more for you.

But isn’t a yoke a form of bondage?

Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

What?  Something that’s easy and light?  That doesn’t sound like bondage but freedom. If you yoke yourself to Jesus you’ll not only be able to breathe and the heaviness you’ve been carrying will be lifted off your shoulders, but you’ll be doing what you were created to do.  No more overload.  No more panic attacks.  Just like the eye of a storm, there will be peace like you’ve never imagined.  It’s as if God will hold back the world from burning you out like He held back the Red Sea.  No more guilt (unless you allow it), no more hives (unless you eat something you’re allergic to), and no more wondering what in the world you’re supposed to do with your life.  Jesus has it all.  All the answers and all the calm.  Yoke yourself to Him, and you’ll see and do things you never dreamed.

How do I know?  Because this wasn’t just for you…it was for me too.  And I’ve finally come to the eye of the storm.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV.)