Posts Tagged ‘guilt’

It was a Samsonite case; a good one — and a bargain too! Just $5 at a gargage sale. Not bad for a hardshell suitcase.. it was a perfect match for a poor college student….

That semester, more than forty of us travelled on the ministry tour.  (Almost double the norm — if I remember properly.) Thing was, there was limited room in the storage compartments in the lower levels in the bus.  Our ministry team needed room in the luggage area of the bus for musical instruments and sound equipment. So, our director had limited each of us to one suitcase. (Not to complain, but do you know how difficult it is to keep what you need to only one case, when you’re only twenty years old? And female? For me it was nearly impossible….) 

And then, there were the extenuating circumstances… ( host homes, outlet malls on the highway, etc.) When one travels, one finds oneself — — how shall we put it?  …. acquiring.  Its kind of like that junk drawer in the kitchen.  You know the one:  you open it, and the contents explode. (Does anybody even like that drawer?)

Well, by the time we were half-way through that January tour, it became necessary for me to sit on the suitcase, bouncing on it, over and over again;  squeezing the poor thing closed each morning. The task became more and more difficult as we travelled along. Close to the end of the month, my host home was gracious enough to take me to the store to purchase duct tape.  After all, my poor suitcase only had to make it through a few more days. Sadly, that was the day the $5 bargain latches failed.  That was the day the case popped open, spewing forth my unmentionables and dirty laundry all over the church parking lot. 

It was a very spiritual moment. Honest. Well maybe not……

Which brings me to a discovery I made not long ago .  Over a period of time, I had become increasingly aware of a repeating frustration in my heart.  Busy continually, I thought I was moving forward.  There was a degree of satisfaction in my day-to-day rituals.  But, at the end of the day, barbed thoughts nagged the back of my mind.   In fact, those very expectations began to intimidate me; wearing me down. After a season of days, I felt guilty over “all the things” I was “not doing.” 

Not doing?  All of my moments were filled.  The collections of my days were compressed.

Not doing? Simply put: there simply was no time.

So I sat down and made a list of all of the silent expectations I felt were looming over me, pointing their accusing finger.  I share it here:   

  1. “Get up earlier. You’ll be able to accomplish more.  You’ll feel better about yourself.”
  2. “Get more exercise….  20-30 minutes, three times a week.” 
  3.  “Prepare all of your meals from scratch; processed foods can hurt you.”
  4. “You need to communicate more completely.” 
  5. “Make longer and more detailed lists so you don’t forget.”
  6. “Be in church every time the doors are open. It’s important to show your committment.”
  7. “Send hand-written thank you notes.”
  8. “Take vitamins, and minerals every morning.” 
  9. “Prepare protein drinks and make sure to take your greens every morning.”
  10. “Buy raw and organic foods.” 
  11. “Buy a juicer. Your body will then absorb the nutrients missing in the foods you eat.”
  12. “Make telephone calls instead of writing emails.  People need personal contact.”
  13. “Keep exercising. Sculpt that body.”
  14. “Read the Bible every day, at least one chapter; more… no matter what.”  
  15. “Memorize a Bible verse each week.”
  16. “Show your employer you are a good worker. Stop being late to meetings.”
  17. “Be diligent, always energetic and upbeat.”
  18. “Journal.  Every day — your thoughts, feelings, discoveries.”  
  19. “Keep track of everything God says to you.”
  20. “Keep your environments organized. Emulations of “pack-rat-ivity” are not allowed.”
  21. “Be hospitable. Entertain your neighbors; open your house, your heart, and your home.”
  22. “Read at least one book a month. Maybe two.”
  23. “Volunteer to serve. You need to do something outside yourself.”
  24. “Pursue a project or a hobby. Expand your knowledge.”
  25. “Stay current with the news; remain politically savvy. Research the issues to protect yourself.”
  26. “Keep your cupboards and closets organized; your silverware organized; your home organized.”
  27. “Talk through the deep issues of life with your spouse.”
  28. “Don’t live on the surface.”
  29. “Keep exercising.”
  30. “Pray every day, for at least 30 minutes. Prayer is first foundation in a life of a disciple.”
  31. “Enroll in a class. Keep your mind active and developing.”
  32. “You can get it all done if you just stay up a few more hours.” “You can make up the sleep hours later.”

After the list was finished, I read back over these items, now known as the “Shoulds-List.”  Writing all of those thoughts down had helped to uncover something seeking to hide itself behind other labels in my life.  In actuality, a sense of false guilt, or shame, had been speaking to me; holding up fiery hoops of expectation for me to jump through. 

After the discovery, I thought I’d have a little fun with the list.  Considering each one, I assigned a required length of time to the activities listed.  The discovery I made was amazing. In order to satisfy the “Shoulds-List,”  I would need an additional five hours each day

No wonder I was tired.

Each of us on the planet has a “Shoulds-List.”  We drag it along like my over-stuffed suitcase, as we make our personal Life-tour.  We regularly struggle to squeeze everything back into its confines, hoping the “dirty laundry” doesn’t pop out at the wrong time.  But we’re human. And sometimes, it just does. Sometimes, we just bolster ourselves. We pick up our bootstraps, and grab something to keep the cover on… By the way, do they even make emotional duct tape?

After a season, however, we have difficulty getting that latch to close.  Overwhelmed, we become frustrated.  “I’ll just get up a little earlier,” we tell ourselves, or, “I just need to work a little harder.” 

In the Bible, Psalm 127 says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows; for He  (God) gives His beloved sleep.”  (NKJV)

You are……. we are………  beloved.  Beloved!!

If you are struggling with your God-relationship; if you have thought you had to somehow do more, or be more in order to gain His approval and acceptance; this is the time to allow the Holy Spirit to take you off the hook.

You see, our Heavenly Father never drives us.  He doesn’t push.  He doesn’t pull.  He holds no hoops for us to jump through.  He does not expect us to “find the hidden formula.”  (And just for the record — He’s not mad at you, either. Take it from me…. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t really know His character.)  He is the God who leads. The Greek language calls Him the “Parakletos” — the Helper/Teacher who walks alongside…. 

So let me ask you something…. What’s on your personal “Shoulds-List?”  If you need a place to start, you could look at the list I provided here of the thought patterns I struggled with. Ask God to help you let go of them.  He wants to breathe His Peace, His Mercy and His Healing into the “shoulds” in your life.  You already make Him happy.

You are beloved.  

(C)2010 — DG – Awakened to Grow


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