Guilt took me on a walk around the block the other night. It was a perfect summer evening. The sun was setting, and there was a light breeze, a welcome relief from the intense heat of the day. Taking a deep breath, I tried to relax. But my route was dictated by my internal G.P.S. – Guilt Positioning System.
Taking an immediate left out of my driveway led me in the opposite direction of our 97-year-old neighbor of more than twenty years. I tried not to think of how long it had been since I had seen her. She must get lonely, at home all day with her cat. I really should visit her…
Crossing over the street, I chose to avoid the block where my Chinese friends with the adorable baby girl lived. Months ago, I had promised to invite them over for dinner with my family, but my schedule always seemed too full. Passing their street reminded me of my unfulfilled promise, and I felt the nagging shame of not being a faithful friend.
Blinded by Condemnation
At the end of the street, I turned towards the lake, carefully steering away from the house of my childhood friend from India. We had been best friends in 5th grade, but we lost touch when I moved out of the country for a year. When I got back, I tried to contact her, but she was hurt and angry, and didn’t want to talk to me. More than 20 years later, I’m still flooded with painful regrets whenever I pass her house.
My shoulders weighed down with condemning thoughts, I didn’t even notice the ducks on the lake or the pink crepe myrtles as I passed them. Guilt and shame threatened to overwhelm me, and I had to remind myself of the promise in Romans 8:1-2. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (N.A.S.)
I began to breathe the truths deeply, taking big gulps of the fresh air of freedom. I don’t have to believe the lies of the enemy that I am responsible for others’ feelings or reactions. My neighbors have probably forgiven me and moved on, so why do I keep beating myself up about these things? But even if others still hold onto grudges against me, if I repent for my part and surrender these concerns to God, He forgives me and gives me His peace.
Once again I was aware of the beauty around me – the sparkling lake in the fading sunlight, the geese flying in a V overhead. There is no condemnation. I can really be free of guilt and shame!
The next time guilt starts to lead me on a walk around the block, I’ll choose to walk in the truths of God’s Word instead!