Shame and Guilt

I’m a guilty person. By now, you’ve already figured that out. I screw up a lot. A lot. I know that no one is perfect. But on a scale of 1-10, I probably fall around -3 or so. It’s taken me a while to realize how wrong I am. Not only am I guilty, but I’m proud too. If I think I’m right about something, then you can’t convince me I’m wrong. If you think I’m being too loud, I’ll be louder. Stuff like that. I stand my own ground. I stick up for myself. I take care of my own. That’s just how it is. I run my life according to my rules. Sounds awesome, right? Well it’s awesome until it isn’t.

Let me explain.

For months and months, I’ve lived the “college” life. Drinking, hooking up, doing whatever I want whenever I want. All the while, I knew what I was doing was wrong. I was suffering from the Christian guilt. It was that nagging feeling inside of my soul that says, “do you see yourself right now? are you glorifying God?” I chose to skip those questions. Kind of like a multiple choice test, I’d skip them for now but you have to go back and fill them in eventually. Well, that “eventually” is happening right now. Obviously. So, my past is catching up with me. I told a friend last week that I wasn’t going to be drinking anymore, at least for while, until I got things straight and I knew I was strong enough to go out without the temptation of drinking. Well, yesterday was a different friend’s birthday (a pretty good friend) so I promised I’d stop by his house – he was throwing a huge party – so that I could say hi and wish him happy birthday. So, I showed up around 11 p.m. and saw all the same faces that I see at every other party. Everyone was hammered. It was 100 degrees in that house, or so it felt. It was miserable. Then I saw the guy that I had talked to a few days before about not drinking. He was proclaiming (very loudly) how drunk he was and he called me over to him and was yelling “OHHH Kayla’s here. I thought you weren’t drinking anymore. I thought you were going to be miss goodie two-shoes now. I thought you weren’t partying.” He went on and on and on until I was so upset that I yelled at him about being a complete ass and walked away. I saw my friend whose birthday it was, wished him well, and left. I was in such a bad mood. I was at that party for maybe 30 minutes. Then the guilt set in. I shouldn’t have even gone, I thought. Here I was, thinking I was being a good friend, upholding a promise to see a friend on his birthday, and I’m leaving feel so completely guilty that I could hardly bare it. My guilt was so bad, in face, that I was too ashamed to pray last night. TO PRAY. I buried my head in my pillow and thought to myself, God saw that. He knew I was there. He’ll never forgive me. I promised that I was trying to turn things around, and I’m still going to parties. I was there for 30 minutes. No, I wasn’t hammered. No, I didn’t do anything stupid. No, I didn’t do anything that I regret. Well, maybe except for just going in the first place. That was my life and it was awesome. Until now, when it’s just not awesome anymore. That wasn’t fun for me. Two weeks ago, I would’ve had a great time (that I probably wouldn’t remember).

But things are different now.

Things are harder now.

And because I think that way, I feel guilty. And ashamed. Sometimes I think that following God is too much work. I’m giving up everything that I know. Everything that I’m comfortable with. I try to remember that God is carrying me through this. But I thought that by now, I’d have this passion for Him that was uncontrollable. I have friends from church that live and breathe God’s word, God’s will, everything. I thought that it would just happen for me. And it hasn’t yet. I don’t know what to say to God when I pray because I don’t know if he really wants to hear it. So, I’m plagued with guilt. And shame. And guilt. And some more shame.

So here I stand (well, actually I’m sitting on my bed) before you, whoever is bored enough to read this blog, asking for you to not give up on me yet. God is doing work, I just don’t know exactly what it is yet. I don’t know my next move. I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow. Or the  next day. Or the next. And that kills me. I love knowing everything. And I’m so lost because I don’t know anything anymore.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope & a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11. My life is in Your hands. Please take it from me because I’m certainly not doing things right. Here’s my leap of faith that You’re going to take care of me. I can’t’ wrestle with this guilt anymore.

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One comment on “Shame and Guilt

  1. Kris says:

    It will get easier. There’s a reason why the cheesy slogan “One day at a time” became so meaningful to so many people. All you have to do is make it through one more day. If a day seems too long, make it through just one more hour. Or one more half hour. Or one more minute. As the minutes pile into hours which pile into days which lead to weeks and then months, it will get easier. It will.

    What’s interesting about these very painful words you’ve written is that your very guilt is a sign of the fact that God’s hand is on you and that you belong to Him. You are not your own but were bought with a price. If you WERE your own, you wouldn’t be feeling this sense of conviction. Do you see that? Your conviction and your sick-of-yourself-ness is a total sign that you do indeed belong to God.

    And that He is carrying you through this. He has brought you to this place.

    I spent many years longing and searching for that passion for God that you describe. I thought I had it for awhile. When I went through my severely “Pentecostal/Charismatic” phase, I used to liken the change in me to what bariatric surgery does to a person’s appetite. Instead of “dieting,” where you feel like you’re constantly having to TRY, it was basically easy to do what I was supposed to.

    Interestingly, though, that “bariatric surgery” phase didn’t last. I’ve pondered that and wondered about it and still haven’t quite solved that mystery.

    But I’ve come to discover pieces of how I think this “passion” thing works. Haven’t solved the mystery entirely, but I do think it’s true that God’s ownership of us manifests itself in different ways, depending on the person and depending on the person’s circumstances. There are times when we hit that place where it seems so easy, such a no-brainer. Then there are the times where every step feels hard. And then there are all the days in between. I would recommend studying Psalms. Read through the book from start to finish and pay close attention to David’s amazing ups and downs. There are times when he expresses the ecstasy of someone who is sailing through. Then there are times when he out-and-out accuses God of leaving him alone.

    Yet David was called a man after God’s own heart.

    If that is true of David (and of course it was), then it is true of any of us who have our highs and lows.

    The important thing to keep in mind is, no matter where we are in our emotions, the FACT remains that we belong to God. We are not our own – we are bought with a price.

    It will get easier.

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