We are all overworked and tired and the bad conscience over things that we cannot do wearies us as much as the things we can do.
Living means choosing.
But do we always choose freely and consciously? Is our choice not frequently forced on us by circumstances, by our faint-heartedness, our habits or even our guilts?
What do you feel guilty about these days?
I'm re-reading through a book called Guilt and Grace by Dr. Paul Tournier. It's prompting me to think of how guilt shapes my life. As I consider the influence of guilt in my life, the list gets longer and longer.
Guilt is profoundly a relational issue. I feel guilty for not spending enough time with Tara. I feel guilty for not spending enough time with Emma, Levi, Isaac and Eli. I feel guilty for not spending enough time with my parents, my brother and his family, Tara's family, and my friends. I feel guilty for not spending enough time with members of Anchor. I feel guilty for not spending enough time alone. I feel guilty for not reading the books on my shelf I bought. I feel guilty for being overweight. I feel guilty for not doing enough to get healthier. I feel guilty for feeling guilty. Argh!!!
We can always find time to do what we really wish to do.
When I have a lecture to prepare, or a piece of work like this study, I always promise myself to take my time and do it carefully. Then I keep putting it off, I have difficulty in settling down to it, just because I am very keen on doing it well and am afraid of failing. I find all sorts of other things to do first.
Does this describe you? It describes me profoundly. Especially when it comes to my sermon preparation.
The subtle thing about this is that by wasting time, I am building up a sense of guilt which I need to drive me to work. It is as though I were building up the power of an auxiliary motor which will get me moving. On the eve of the lecture a moment will come when I shall feel so conscience stricken at having prepared it so badly that I shall rush to it, just as one must jump into the water from a burning ship. It will be a kind of excuse for the inadequacy of my work: it is a pity if it is less good than I would have wished, but I must be satisfied with what can be done in a hurry.
These paragraphs are convicting to me. And guilt-inducing. Sigh. But it is the truth, and that is important to face.
Time belongs to God, and we are stewards of time, we are responsible to him for every minute that he gives us. We all feel that if we listened to Him more carefully, our lives would be more harmonious.
And less driven by guilt. And more by grace.
Are you aware of the ways that guilt is driving your life?
What would your list look like?