Shame, guilt and fear.
Those three words have stolen so much of the joy out of my life, but thank God, He is restoring me to sanity one small step at a time.
These destructive demons crouch in the shadow of my thoughts, ready to spring up with the slightest provocation.
Maybe it's a decision I've made - fear jumps in and fires the quiver full of questions:
What if I made the "wrong" choice?
What if I hurt _____'s feelings?
What will people think?
And on and on it goes. . .
I could spend my entire lifetime researching and analyzing all the facts about a single decision but I still wouldn't know with complete certainty that I had made the "right" decision.
And then there's shame and guilt.
I came across the phrase "Shame on you." yesterday in a devotional (!) reading. Those words hit me in the gut and made me feel physically sick. I thought of the many times I had heard that phrase in my life - probably most of the time in my own head. But I specifically remember a time in the not so distant past when a relative came to visit and actually spoke the words: "Shame on you for staying home with all this education you have."
I was devastated and those words still haunt me and caused me to question whether staying home was the "right" decision. As if my life can only be acceptable if I get it right.
The guilt holds hands with the shame as they stand against me staring with cold, disapproving eyes. The net they cast sometimes feels impossible to escape - all its threads twisting and trapping me in confusion as I try to figure out the "right" thing to do.
Thank God, He has shown me the only right thing to do.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
So simple to say but so difficult to actually live out. In our own strength it is impossible.
Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
We are not alone in this battle.
We have an unfailing ally:
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is to come. He will bring glory to me by taking what is mine and making it known to you.
May we all have the grace to hear His voice.