"When we wallow in guilt, remorse, and shame over real or imagined sins of the past we are disdaining God's gift of grace." - Brennan Manning The Ragamuffin Gospel
Guilt. There's an unhealthy kind and there's a healthy kind. Do you know this? I do. Until I forget.
During this past year, as we were thinking and praying about adopting again...
Side note: I realize I haven't "announced" on here that we are adopting again! I'm not one for big, creative announcements so here it is: WE'RE ADOPTING AGAIN! We are in the process of fost-adopt with our home study being updated as we speak. We should enter the matching phase by the end of this month and then we just wait. It could be 6 months, it could be a year. We don't know. We're nervous and excited and just trusting the Lord to bring us the child He wants to bring us.
Back to this post! During this past year, as we were thinking and praying about adopting again, the enemy reminded me of all my failings and all my times of falling short in parenting my boys. (he can be a real a-hole like that) I began to wallow in guilt and shame. I questioned myself and my understanding of God's calling. I wondered if I was the right person to do this all over again. Parenting kids from hard places is HARD. And sometimes I don't have enough patience or gentleness or kindness. Sometimes I respond with too much anger. Sometimes I act more like another kid than like the adult in the situation. And all those times kept haunting me.
Brennan Manning explains unhealthy guilt so well in his amazing book The Ragamuffin Gospel:
"The language of unhealthy guilt is harsh. It is demanding, abusing, criticizing, rejecting, accusing, blaming, condemning, reproaching, and scolding...Christians are shocked and horrified because they have failed. Unhealthy guilt becomes bigger than life."
Have you been there?
I have. But eventually God reminded me of the difference between unhealthy guilt and healthy guilt. I felt like He said, "Okay, Laurel, you sinned. Don't try to justify it or make yourself feel better about it. Own it. Confess it. And then move forward because I have forgiven you."
"...healthy guilt is one which acknowledges the wrong done and feels remorse, but then is free to embrace the forgiveness that has been offered. Healthy guilt focuses on the realization that all has been forgiven, the wrong has been redeemed...you can forgive yourself because you are forgiven, accept yourself because you are accepted, and begin to start building up the very places you once tore down."
So good, right? I love that! Yes, we should acknowledge our sin and feel guilty about it, but we don't stay there. We move forward, realizing we are forgiven, it's done, it's washed away. God is a God who redeems and restores. And so we repent and we figure out how we're going to work on doing better next time.
And then we let go of the guilt and shame. We accept God's grace. And we live in that grace. Free, redeemed, grateful. That's where God wants us to live. In celebration of His grace rather than in disdain of it.
Let's live there, friends! It's time to leave the guilt and the shame.
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free" Galatians 5.1