"...for though the righteous fail seven times, they rise again . . ." (NIV) Proverbs 24:16
I'm driving behind a school bus the other day. It stopped and to my left was a little boy, about 6, and his younger brother and mom. The boy crossed the road, hopped onto the bus, and found a seat by a window. He turned to wave goodbye and his little brother and mom waved in earnest as well. It was a beautiful sight. It also brought back an enormous sense of guilt that I have carried with me for many years.
Guilt can be a powerful emotion. It can drive us to act out in rage, retreat to our deepest inner beings, or can eat at our hearts and souls until there is nothing left. Today, I share with you guilt that I have had for many, many years. I trust all who read this can relate to the guilt that I have held on to, and may even have their own "guilt world" that they have lived in for a long time.
Mine surrounds my children. I grew up always wanting to be the mom who put my children on the bus and the one that was waiting for them at the end of their school day with cookies and milk. I'm not sure where this picture came from. My mom was a teacher, so growing up our days were very similar. We all left for school around the same time - she got us on the bus and then left for school. At the end of the day, we would go to a neighbor's house until she came home. So I'm not sure why this other picture was so prominent to me - but it was.
Yet, my career took me in a different path. That path had me leaving for work early in the morning and wouldn't have me returning until late afternoon - well after the school bus would have arrived. Therefore, our children went to a day care center for before and after school care. They were safe, well taken care of, and many of their friends were in the same boat.
There are many ways that I have failed at being a parent. I believe we all try the very best we can, but there have been times that I have lost my patience and yelled when I could have responded better. There have been times when my "body language" has been anything but supportive and kind. There have been times that my decisions may not have been the best. There have been times - times I have failed. I always felt that not being there to send my child off to school or be there when they arrived home was one of those times. Yes, I may not have had other choices, yet, the guilt of that has haunted me for many years (considering our children are 19+ years old now).
Then I saw this verse and it helped me to understand that although we may fail, we can rise again. We get that opportunity because we have Jesus, who forgives our mistakes without holding a grudge, who died on the cross for our sins so that we can have freedom in His name. We may fail, but we can rise again. So, I decided to talk to my children and let them know the guilt that I felt (and I'm sure the scarred memories that they must have had), because I wasn't there at the bus.
Yes, you know the response that I got, "Really? That has bothered you all these years?" Yes, children, it has. As I am sure you expected, they were absolutely fine with it and certainly had moved on - much quicker than I had. The guilt was lifted. The pain was released. I was free. This same thing happens when we go to our Jesus and share our guilt with Him. He has already forgiven us for the mistakes that we have made, for the sins that we have done. When we go to Jesus to ask forgiveness, it is for us, for our guilt to be released and for us to be able to get up again.
Take the time, right now, and go to Him for forgiveness of the guilt we may be feeling. If necessary, also go to the person and ask for their forgiveness. It may be small or large, but guilt can weigh us down - let it be lifted to God. That is our blessing for having simple faith - we are blessed to have Jesus on OUR side, waiting for our guilt to be lifted. Let your guilt have freedom!!