MY JOURNEY TO REDEMPTION



Hosea 6:1

Come and let us return to the Lord

For He has torn, but He will heal us;

He has stricken, but He will bind us up








We cannot do great things on this earth, only small things with great love - Mother Teresa

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

GUILT



God’s Word tells us that there is no condemnation in Christ. John 3:17 tells us that Jesus did not come into the world to condemn it, but that the world through Him might be saved.

Much of my own life has been lived in the shadow of a guilty conscience. I have made many mistakes in life, and have many regrets. I have also asked God for forgiveness, and grace to move forward in personal freedom. I believe God when He says that my many sins have been forgiven, and I avow that His word is true. Believing Him is a choice that I have made, and despite my own occasional doubts, I know that God’s word remains immutable. Thus, I believe I am forgiven, even when feelings of guilt creep into my mind.

I have always been one to blame myself when things go awry. I chose to stay in a physically abusive relationship for several months, because I was convinced that the abuse was my fault. I kept telling myself, if I could only change, then he would, too. The rational part of me knew that the beatings had less to do with me, and everything to do with his own demons, which manifested themselves through his inner rage. He was a tormented soul with deep scars that fueled the fires of his intense anger, which he directed at me on a regular basis, with the aid of alcohol. Like most abused women, I blamed myself for the beatings.

By that time, I had been out of the porn industry for several years. Early in the relationship, I came clean to him about my past, not knowing that he would use it to justify his fits of rage upon me. I was living a nightmare, but because of my own guilt issues, I felt trapped. Part of me believed him when he said that I could never get anyone better than him, because of my whorish past – but that part was strong enough to keep me in bondage to that relationship. Looking back, it was my guilt that kept me there. I did not see myself worthy of love or forgiveness.

I continued in this abusive relationship, blaming myself, until reality kicked me in the face that horrific afternoon when, in a drunken rage, he tried to kill me. I managed to lose the relationship, but on a deep emotional level, I was crippled by the beatings, which I was told for so many months that I “deserved” because of my time in porn. This only exacerbated the feelings of guilt, abysmal shame, and worthlessness. Selling my soul to porn was bad enough, but being beat down day after day – being told that I am worthless, damaged goods, and a “whore,” – was a constant, violent reminder of my past offenses. Whenever I went out in public with a black eye, everyone else knew I was worthless, too.



Deep inside, I knew that my involvement in porn was a sin against God, but rather than forgiveness and grace, I chose humiliation and violence, which only increased the feelings of guilt, which I still struggle with to this day. Even in the light of my walk with God, having experienced His love and grace on such a profound level, my mind occasionally drifts back to the notion that I deserved these beatings, for my sins against God, my child, and anyone struggling with porn who may have watched my movies.

I know that this is the work of the enemy in my life, but even so, I am weak, and am a creature of impulse. The burdens and hurts that I carry are products of a lifelong journey. I remember, as a young child, 5 or 6, wondering why I didn’t have a daddy like the other children, and concluding that it was because of something wrong with me. If I was rejected or bullied or made fun of, it was because of me….because I was ugly or stupid or weird. Guilt and self-deprecation are Siamese twins.

Guilt is not a simple character flaw that can be dropped at will. I have been walking with the Lord for about 6 years now, and guilt is still an issue that I struggle with. I have made so many mistakes in my life, and I cannot blame anyone else for the choices that I have made. Though circumstances or people may have contributed to the choices that I made, it is still I who made them. At times, I am confronted by the remaining fallout of some of my choices, and the guilt resurfaces.



I’ll admit that, for a while, I fell into the trap of blaming others and/or circumstances for my bad decisions. It was an easy trap to fall into, as it provided a convenient, albeit not entirely successful, method of alleviating the guilt that was so internalized. How better to admit that you have made mistakes without having to absorb the guilt, by blaming others for your bad decisions. Sure, you made the decisions, but not by your own acumen. Your judgment was clouded, by whatever exigencies, and you become the victim.

Even so, this does not entirely dispel the guilt, because deep inside, you know the truth. We all have a conscience, and we can choose to listen to or ignore it. I chose to ignore it, just as I chose to ignore the guilt – on the surface, that is, but it still existed on a deep level, gnawing at my conscience, bringing me into a state of depression, for which I eventually sought treatment.



I have since come to the Lord, and He has forgiven me of every sin and trespass. I believe this with my whole heart, but as someone who is pre-disposed to feed off of guilt, especially in my relationships, I find myself, effortlessly, drifting back into that self-condemning mode of guilt, which has surfaced in my relationship with my heavenly father.

In Christ, there is no condemnation, yet so much of the time, I feel guilt and remorse in my relationship with God. If I do not read the Bible or pray enough, if I do not witness, if I do not tithe, or do all the things which are supposed to define me as a “good Christian,” I feel guilty…..bordering on legalism, but not quite, as I do not hinge my salvation on it. I suppose you can look at it more as a child seeking the favor and approval of a parent.

The Lord has given me a second chance at life, and He continues to transform my heart, heal, and refine me. In order for Him to do this, though, I must stay grounded in His word, continually feeding on it and saturating in its truth. To do otherwise would be rebellion; even so, I find myself struggling to read His word on a daily basis, thus hindering the work He is trying to do in me. God has been so gracious, and I am being willful.

This is the struggle that I face every day.

No longer do I harbor the guilt of unrepentant sinner, but of a child who has displeased her Heavenly Father, although I know this condemnation does not come from God. Rather, this is the manifestation of something unresolved in my own heart. Some days, I am overwhelmed by it. I know that I have drifted from God, and I desire to draw closer to Him.



When I observe the condition of my heart, my attitude, and the way that I let people down, I know that it is displeasing to God, but rather than allowing these realities to draw me into His love and grace, I find myself guilt-ridden and begging Him for forgiveness, as did the tax collector in Luke 18:13.

I do understand it’s God’s will that we seek His face, and draw closer to Him, but I also know He does not want me to live in guilt. The Lord’s Spirit is not one of condemnation, but of conviction, and does not draw us away from Him, but into His arms. I suppose I could alleviate the guilt by immersing myself in the word, paying the allotted 10% tithe, and doing as much good as I can to please the Lord. That might temporarily resolve the inner conflict, but not so sure it would resolve the deeper issues, or the guilt that arises every time I fall short.

I realize that God’s love cannot be earned, and is not impingent on anything I can do; even so, the child inside of me is afraid of letting God down and the awful guilt feelings that resonate. I have failed on many accounts, and have disappointed many people in my life, as I continue to do, even to this day. I know that I have disappointed God, as well, and will continue to do so unless I allow myself to be led by the Spirit through a close walk with Him.

I do not want my relationship with God to be defined by vexation and worry, or the works that I do for Him motivated by feelings of guilt or self-reproach. I do not want burdens that I have carried in the past to weigh down my relationship with God in the present.

Jesus Christ tells us that His commandments are not burdensome. Guilt, on the other hand, is an undue burden that breeds feelings of condemnation. Obedience done out of guilt is obligatory in nature. I, personally, do not want to serve God out of obligation, but out of love. There is so much that I owe my Savior, for all He has done for me – much more than I could ever even attempt to reciprocate. Even so, I hope that my loving service to Him comes from a place of freedom, rather than bondage.



Guilt is bondage, which keeps a person from fully realizing the grace of God. So, then, why do I continue to hold on to it, and allow it to dominate my thoughts? Perhaps it’s fear. Perhaps it’s because that is all I know….or perhaps it’s because I am looking to my own performance, rather than the grace of God. Perhaps it’s a combination of the three.

One thing I do know – when I finally learn to walk in complete freedom, I will finally be able to leave the past behind – completely!!!

3 comments:

  1. You are wonderfully well spoken, and everything you said resonates deeply with me. Guilt is a cruel master, one that is never satisfied. Yet your strength in Christ shows deeply. You are definitely in my prayers!

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  2. Thank you so much for reading my blog, and especially, for your wonderfully encouraging comment. What a blessing. Thank you so much, and may God bless you!

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  3. This is hilarious to me that you used the cover art of an old 7" (titled Empty?) by the hardcore band Guilt. Nice.

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