Monday, August 26, 2013

Ten Things I Feel Guilty about

On a recent trip to South Bend, my wife and I began to confess all the things we feel guilty about. I'm not sure what prompted the conversation, other than guilt, but I found the entire experience to be cathartic. I've thought regularly of this subject in the days since, because I've come to realize the powerful role guilt plays in our lives.

Before jumping into my list, I'll add a reflection from author Andy Stanley on the topic. He associated guilt with indebtedness. "I owe you," guilt declares, over and over. These debts compile emotional interest, and lead us to avoid our many lenders. When I verbalized some of these guilt issues, however, I found that others were not to blame.

I chose my own guilt, and for that I feel ashamed: I owe myself better treatment than that!

  1. Feeling too much guilt: It's neither fair to myself or to others to assume we have a debt/lender relationship. Certainly relationships require some give-and-take, but the keeping a record of wrongs or advances, does not reflect biblical love (1 Cor. 13).
  2. Not visiting Great Grandma Anna (GGA): Recently, GGA was moved into a rehabilitation unit. For the past few years she lacked energy and felt poorly. She cannot explain her slow recovery, but I attribute it to life in the mid-eighties. We didn't visit her much before her admission to Grace Village, but I've not visited her at all since then. A benign source of guilt has turned sour.
  3. Not flossing my kids' teeth (or having them floss): I'm pleased when the girls brush their teeth at the end of the day. When they add a morning brush to their routine, I'm thrilled. Flossing might set me over the edge. However, after my eldest daughter had a cavity filled, I started to feel bad about how we enforce oral hygiene.
  4. Rust stains on my car: The general state of both our cars is poor. Crayons, papers, and fast food wrappers cover the floors, streaks mark the windows, and rust has slowly consumed the edges of its exterior. I'm sure I could research how to get rid of the rust and protect it from future wear. Usually, I don't fret about it. But when I pull into my parents' driveway or notice someone I know driving behind us, the feelings of guilt arise.
  5. All the phone calls, texts messages, encouragement notes, and thank you cards I never sent: Half of the people who attended my and Liz's wedding twelve years ago are still waiting for a Thank You card from us.
  6. Abandoned goals: I have many: marathon training; book writing; learning archery, the banjo, and how to fix a leaky pipe; developing a stand up comedy routine; praying. My ambition is inversely related to my daughters' ages. The older they get, the less drive I have. By the time they're twenty, I may be dead.
  7. Not saving money: I could probably increase my giving, too, but my savings patterns have already made the 62-year old version of myself cringe. That Tim is planning to work until he's seventy-two. Fortunately for him, I will have left much to be finished by him.
  8. Eating: I can't pass up on a dessert or side-dish that someone made but no one else is eating. I hate for a cook to feel slighted.
  9. Waste, excess, and consumption: When I hear our faucet drip; or I see food scraps on my kids' plates; or I add up the monthly expenses of our cat and dog; or run to the store for batteries, vitamins, and Ibuprofen, I can't help but think that our level of gratitude does not come anywhere close to our access to goods. We owe God more thanks. We owe other nations more giving.
  10. That pesky thing called sin: I know there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1), but I cannot help thinking I owe him. I'm eternally indebted.