I know that I’m “in the middle” of a series on chronic illnesses but I’m just not feeling it today. So maybe it’ll be a long-spanning series. Who can say? Ok, God can say. But I cannot.
What I can say is what God is teaching me about right now.
I have a lovely friend who has been talking to me lately about her marriage. She told me that even when things are going better, she still has this overwhelming feeling of guilt for all the things she has done wrong previously to this.
So even when it’s good, the good is overshadowed by past bad.
Tears rolling down my face because I KNOW this feeling.
Punch in the gut.
Lay in bed all day.
Ok. Deep breath. And another. And another.
What I’m about to tell you will (not) surprise you.
First, guilt is one of the toughest feelings that women struggle with. We wonder if we’re REALLY forgiven by God, by our spouse, by our parents, by our friends. We wonder if we’re screwing up our kids and how will we even know until it’s too late? We pile it on like junk in a closet – we keep throwing it in there, ignoring it, but when the door opens, it all comes crashing down. And that hurts.
Second, guilt is a choice. Yes, other people can choose words and tones that try to MAKE us feel guilty. Yes, others can bring up past mistakes and rub salt into a healing wound. But that’s not God’s way. In these cases we have to choose God’s way.
Which, is thirdly, to rest in His mercies which are new each morning. Yes, we made mistakes yesterday, the day before, and every day before that from our birth. Yes, we made mistakes today, and every day forward to our death. Which is bleak. UNLESS we rest in God’s mercies. We apologize for the wrong we do, and move forward, growing in the ways God has for us to grow – which are uniquely our journey, and know that He has mercy for us each morning.
Lamentations 3:22-23 22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Satan is crafty – he knows our vulnerabilities. He knows that if we are working on doing better in our marriage, that playing that card will have a bigger impact on us. Hey, remember last week when you were husband bashing with your girlfriends? How dare you go to his face now and tell him how much you admire him? And don’t bother trying to give him a back rub – he knows you only do that when you feel guilty, and you don’t want him knowing that you’re failing, do you?
There is so much about what we’re doing and what we’re fighting for in our marriages that is hard, maybe some of the hardest things we’ll ever do. And maybe not.
Either way, it’s a journey. A marathon, not a sprint. It’s growing, and changing, and maturing in our walks with the Lord.
And it’s multifaceted.
For one thing, we have to know who our motivation is. Are you trying to make our spouse happy or God happy? And by making God happy, sometimes, we are not making our spouse happy. Or sometimes we do not feel love from our spouse, even when we “get it right”.
I know, and I’m sorry.
Also, we learn along the way that no matter how hard we try, we cannot change someone else. So our motivation can’t be to change our spouse but rather to draw closer to the One who created us to know love. And sometimes we still don’t feel that from our spouse.
I know, and I’m sorry.
It’s hard not to feel love from the man who is supposed to be our example of Christ’s love for His Church.
I know, and I’m sorry.
But we cannot change someone else. We can only work on growing in our own journey with God. Encouraging others in theirs. But we can’t do for them.
We can’t earn our spouses love by getting it right, just like we can’t earn God’s love by getting it right.
And as much as we know that, it’s hard. Hard to be married to another sinner who is on their own journey.
Let me tell you, Satan knows that. And he’ll work his wedge right in there. With grudges. With bitterness. With anger and frustration. With hurt feelings. With guilt.
If you let it, the guilt always follows you – there is always someone to disappoint, someone to feel guilty about. The hardest thing I’m learning is that we’re not trying to please our husband or our kids – that’s just a nice by-product. Rather, we are trying to please God. The same God who sent His only son to die for each one of us and make it so that our sins would not show up under our name in the book of life. Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to grasp a hold of – God, can you really forgive THAT?!? And even if You can because You love me unconditionally, can my husband?
Today’s dare is on-going and not easy. I dare you to look for opportunities to NOT choose guilt. To thank God for His mercies and to keep working and keep praying that He would lead you to more of His ways. Not because you can earn love from Him or anyone else, but because as His precious child, He wants to impart more of Himself on you. WOW.