Archives For Guilt

He needed a refill of his Lomotil, the message said. Had he seen the gastroenterologist like I advised? No, but if I could just send some pills to the pharmacy, he’d appreciate it. I wanted my patient to feel better, but I knew that diarrhea can be a symptom of something much worse. Like the older gentleman who came in for loose stools and ended up with a twelve centimeter mass in his colon. My patient wanted a quick fix and–when it comes to sin–so do we. We want the discomfort go away without having to face an underlying diagnosis. But sin–like colon cancer–is easier to treat when we diagnose it accurately, and early.

Jesus came so that we could enjoy life to the full (John 10:10), but sin drains the abundance out of our lives. If we want abundant life with God–and aren’t experiencing it–we might want to check if we’ve been complaint with God’s treatment plan for sin:

Photo by Bryan Minear on Unsplash

1. Own the diagnosis

Something in humans dreads a diagnosis; we’d rather take a pill to make the diarrhea stop. If a hard day at work leaves us short fused and we snap at a family member, we might try to brush off the unease that creeps into our nervous system by grabbing an excuse about how much work drained us, offering a vague apology for being sorry if we hurt them, or distracting ourselves from the fact that we blew it by turning on Hulu.

But glossing over our failure is as effective as taking Lomotil for colon cancer. It might relieve our psychosocial angst, but the underlying tumor will just keep growing Continue Reading…

Thanks to Seana Scott for this guest post in the Finding God at Work series, on how she found God in motherhood and particularly in her struggle with double mom-guilt. Read more by Seana at her blog 

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My alarm clock vibrates next to my bed and I hear my 2-year-old, Judah, singing, “I like to move it, move it” and dancing with two minion figurines. I grab my iPhone and catch Judah’s dance moves on video for the grandparents. Best alarm clock ever.

 

Moments like these keep me loving motherhood, but often as I send my boys to sleep with songs and a prayer, a question clouds around me: Am I doing a good job? 

 

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Motherhood is my calling, specifically Christian motherhood. This means I live with a double dose of mom guilt. I feel the usual pressure from mommy groups and Pinterest to make healthy meals my kids will actually eat, bestow homemade gifts on the world at large, and teach my boys to read by the time they walk (just joking—well, kind of) Continue Reading…

When I sat down before a pile of old journals last month, I prepared myself for a barrage of adjectives and angst. The notebooks crowded around me like walls of a torture chamber—spiraled and thread bound ones, some covered with waxy Chinese paintings, others collaged with magazine cutouts. But I needed to fill some gaps in my memory and those journals held the clue. Two mornings and one headache later, I emerged, not only with the salvaged facts under one arm, but six surprising discoveries about myself under the other.

 

1. Some things never change. (A.K.A., I’ve always been a bit pretentious). 

 

The opening page of my first journal, which I penned around the age of ten, states, “In this journal I will write down all my memories from my early years.” For some reason, I thought that the story of getting my first bed from my grandparents’ basement ought to be saved for antiquity. 

 

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Like that diary, I bestowed a title page on every new journal I cracked open, inspired by the importance of the words I had yet to write. I find that propensity, which I still fight, embarrassing, especially given #6 below. 

 

2. My memory serves me well. (Or, at least it serves my ego). 

 

One of the “memories from my early years” shocked me with its rendition of a story I’ve told several times when proving the point that I’m an introvert. I’d cried at a birthday party in kindergarten because the piece of paper under my plate instructed me to sing “Jesus Loves Me”—clear proof that I’ve always been an introvert. But that wasn’t the whole story. My journal revealed that I cried, not just because of the song, but because I wanted my paper to say, “Spank the birthday boy.” Apparently, I wasn’t that much of an introvert Continue Reading…

Lord, 

We acknowledge that our lives in this country have differed from those of our black brothers and sisters. While we’ve experienced the common pain and grief of life, our skin color has usually exempted us from the cold looks, stinging slurs, and hasty gavels of discrimination.

We have, sometimes without even knowing it, repeated racial stereotypes in our hearts. We have at time, in our churches, failed to acknowledge injustice when it didn’t touch us personally. We have been inconsistent. We’ve prayed against the industry that rips fetuses from pregnant wombs. We’ve prayed against the beheading of Christians in other countries. We’ve prayed for villages ruptured by earthquakes and cities devastated by bombs. But we’ve ignored the injustice grinding down on the people who live in our own neighborhoods and cities. 

34136 Pray

Photo courtesy of Nancy Andrea D. via creationswap.com

We have failed to see. And failing to see, we’ve failed to care. And failing to care, we have failed to act. But as the list grows, of black civilians killed by individuals who’ve abused their power, we acknowledge that something is wrong. 

Help us face a problem that we would prefer to ignore. Help us to remember that, as your children, you hold us responsible to care for our neighbors. Help us feel in the bowels of our faith your heart for the powerless, your anger at their oppression, and how you sacrificed your own comfort to bring them peace. Help us to face the heat of your justice and our own failure in neglecting it Continue Reading…

When I first saw The Tortured Christby Brazilian sculptor Guido Rocha, it didn’t ask my permission, it just went ahead and seared itself into my subconscious. Every couple of months since then, The Tortured Christ pops up, uninvited. All of the sudden he’s there, blood splattering on the carpet of my brain and his screams ricocheting off the walls. It’s rather uncomfortable. 


I’d prefer a visit from the placid Jesus–the one who’s taking his torture like a champ, the Jesus that dangles on the end of necklaces, Jesus-asleep-on-the-cross. But, this Jesus keeps showing up–skin retracting between his ribs, muscles seizing in agony–and, honestly, when he stops by, I don’t start humming worship songs or try to gaze deeply into his eyes. I want to look away.

 

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The truth is, there’s a lot of things I’d rather look away from–not just Rocha’s Christ–11.4 million Syrians who have been displaced from their homes. Four and half million of them eke out an existence on the border of other countries, without heat in the winter or basic health care, relying on UN food coupons to keep them just beyond the grip of starvation.   

 

I’d rather not notice the man who holds a plastic cup at the intersection several blocks from my house. It gets complicated to think about the addictions that might be driving him to the streets, the shattered family he represents, or the burden of what it means for me to get involved Continue Reading…

I don’t really like confessing my sins. It’s a lot like going to the dentist, which I didn’t mind until last October. I sat in the exam chair, looking up at the X-rays and trying to process what my dentist was saying. Not me, I thought, not after thirty-two years. The tiny spot on the X-ray, though, refused to illuminate. My dental sins had found my out. After years of not flossing, I had a cavity. 

 

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The problem with confessing is that it requires us to face the decay inside. A pearly exterior doesn’t matter—how often we go to church or the amount of our charitable donations. Confession, like X-rays, looks for the evil rotting beneath the surface. 

 

Maybe we read our Bible several mornings a week and feel pretty “spiritual,” but that’s like showing up to God’s Dental with two rows of shiny teeth. He’s more concerned with what’s under the enamel. His radiographs might find that we’re rolling out of bed, not to hear from the God we love, but to manipulate him—we give up twenty minutes of our time and expect him, in return, to answer our prayers. Our devotions, held up to his light-box, might actually reveal self-centeredness Continue Reading…