Guilt

This past weekend I attended my 45th high school reunion. Seeing many of the people that helped shape who I am was so much fun.

Barbara was one of these individuals. We lived just around the corner from each other. I have such fond memories of us riding bikes, playing dolls, going to the playground to swing or climb on the monkey bars, and just being typical kids of the ’60s.

One day while I was at her house I stole a small toy black plastic scottie dog. As soon as I arrived home the guilt was overwhelming. Back on my bicycle, peddling as fast as I could I returned to her home. Riding past her yard I quickly tossed the toy onto her lawn.

I’ve often thought about how it looked after the lawn mower got ahold of it!!

Now, some 50 odd years later I still remember that day!! How in the world can I still be holding onto that “guilt”?!!!

Well seriously, it has not kept me up at night, but whenever anyone has asked if I have ever stolen anything this is the first thing that comes to mind… plus shoplifting about 20 cents worth of candy from GC Murphy’s Five & Dime. (I walked out of the store and immediately returned, threw the money and the candy at the cashier!)

So goes my life of crime.

When I saw Barbara at the reunion this weekend one of the first things I shared with her was my criminal activity of stealing her toy scottie dog. We laughed. Today I posted on her Facebook page a photo of such a dog and said “I found it!” LOL

If these two silly childish actions have stayed with me for my entire life , imagine what real guilt can do to us. It eats away like a poison. Sometimes our guilt is from a serious offense, but many times these feelings are triggered by the littlest things.

We have all made mistakes. Embrace your stumbles, learn from them, and grow.

Years ago while attending a women’s Christian retreat the main speaker started her presentation with the words, “Ladies, you are NOT GUILTY!!”

To my surprise just about all 300 ladies started to shout out with enthusiasm. Who would have thought that so many of us carried around that burden of guilt. Is this a male / female thing? I don’t know. I will need to ask Cece and Melinda. (Two lovely friends I grew up with and also saw this weekend… both psychologists.)

What were these ladies at the retreat feeling guilty about? A wide variety of things…

  • Leaving their husbands at home to watch the kids.
  • Spending too much on their outfit or wearing an old one
  • Not inviting that friend to the retreat…or wishing they had not!

It appears to me that women tend to experience feelings of guilt more often than men… we may feel guilty when…

  • We attend a baby shower and we spent too much on the gift or not.
  • We should have gotten that degree or studied harder.
  • We should have written that friend or perhaps not written that email.
  • We should have gone to the doctor sooner.
  • We should have eaten carrots and not those candy bars.
  • We should have ____________….. you fill in the blank.

Many of us carry around a bucket of “Should Haves”.

What “Should Haves” are cluttering your mind and heart?

REPAIR those feelings.

R – Realize you have these feelings of guilt

E – Examine the validity of these feelings

P – Pinpoint if the guilt is rational

A – Address any  legitimate unhealthy deeds

I – Identify those minuscule actions

R – Repair and make amends when appropriate, but RELEASE yourself from unwarranted guilt.

Only Christ was perfect.

He never did one thing wrong,
Not once said anything amiss.

(1 Peter 2:22)

We may view other’s lives as perfect, but know that all of us have shortcomings. If you did something wrong, learn from it. Move on. Move forward.

Life is too short to fret over a toy scottie dog!!

Blessings, Susan

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