I've been thinking about writing this post for about 2 years now. I just never got around to it. But let me start with two of my favorite scriptures:
2 Corinthians 7:10
"For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death."
2 Timothy 1:7
"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
Of all Holy Writ, these two are at the top for how much they have impacted my life. I bet you're not surprised I am going to tell you why.
Hand in hand with the self-loathing I explained in yesterday's post, I had a tandem habit of feeling guilty. Every time I caught myself doing something wrong or stupid, I would feel guilty about it. I figured, hey, it's part of the repentance process. If we don't feel sorrow for the "sin," we can't repent of it, right? So I'd give myself a hefty lecture about all the things I should have done better or differently or whatever that day. I'd set goals. I'd make charts to track my progress. I'd tell other people so they could "hold me accountable." Dang it, by SURE willpower, I was going to change!
But I wouldn't. I'd slip. I'd fall. I'd do it again.
And I felt so sorry about it, my mistake was all I could focus on. I focused on it so much, in fact, it usually got bigger or I would repeat it more frequently--because (as every mother of a whining child knows), we get more of what we focus on. So, to combat my increased mistakes, I'd just give myself more lectures...and then, predictably, feel miserable. But, "Hey," I'd say to myself, "Wickedness never was happiness, so I probably deserve the misery."
Enter Stage Right:
2 Cor 7:10. WHAT? Two kinds of sorrow? I wasn't sure what "godly sorrow" was. But you can bet your life that the kind of sorrow I had was "worketh-ing" death not only to my happiness but also to my will to keep trying. What did this mean? How could I have one kind of sorrow but not the other? What was "godly sorrow?"
Enter Stage Left:
2 Tim 1:7. My kind of self-imposed guilt felt very real--so real that I usually felt terrified of all the consequences that would surely come from my actions--rejection, failure, 10 extra minutes to clean the stupid spilled milk ... and *gasp* maybe even hell if I wasn't really careful. After all, it was Christ who said, "Be ye therefore PERFECT," and no one knew better than I how far I was from that mark. But here is Paul, telling the Corinthians about what kind of Spirit brought what kinds of feelings and all I knew was that I was staring straight down the belly of fear.
Then, suddenly it hit me. I reviewed my past, the times I'd been able to make permanent changes for the better, and noticed a trend. The change was always accompanied by a gigantic epiphany of some sort. With the epiphany, I could see with utmost clarity the incorrect belief that was causing the action. Then I felt both convicted and sorry at the same time--but not the guilty kind of sorry I imposed on myself. It was a liberating kind of sorry. A FREEING kind of sorry. Because I knew precisely what I needed to do better and I knew how much the Lord who loved me had provided a way to make up for all the time I had spent in the dark. Consequently, I wanted to do better so much that I would suddenly lose all desire to keep re-committing the same self-defeating action or thought. And you know what? The habits disappeared. Sometimes slowly, sometimes instantaneously. But I never felt miserable and I never had to give myself lectures.
When I finally put these two scriptures together, and linked it with my experiences in life up to that point, I realized the best way to determine the difference between "godly sorrow" and "sorrow of the world" was to ask myself how the thought made me feel. Did I feel fear? Depression? Loss of hope?
Or did I feel full of power, love, and a sound mind?
My self-guilt always caused the first set of feelings. This was a HUGE epiphany. I was letting Satan into my life with my little lectures! I had no idea! I genuinely thought I was doing a good thing that would help me change for the better! And then, I felt godly sorrow about all that guilt. I felt full of love--for myself and even for my mistakes--and then I changed.
No more "sorrow of the world" for me. EVER. Well, sometimes a thought will creep in, and sometimes I'll listen to it for a day or so. But all in all, it doesn't get much stage presence.
So why am I saying this now? Today? This post?
I got a lot of letters in the past couple days. Some private emails, some comments, you get the picture. I had the audacity to say public schools are horrible and home schooling is awesome. Just like cookies are unhealthy and whole wheat bread is awesome. Just like having a premature baby is tough and having a healthy term baby is awesome. Just like having a deaf child is challenging and having a hearing child is awesome. Just like divorce stinks and marriage is awesome. Just like being a working mom means a lot less time with your kids and staying home is awesome. Just like wool-lined boots in the summer start to reek and wool-lined boots in the winter are awesome.
Comparisons are everywhere. Some comparisons are of sins and righteous actions. Some are just a matter of preference or values. Some comparisons will remain true no matter what. Some change based on the situation. Some comparisons are within our power to control. Some aren't. But no matter what, we all find ourselves on the other side of "awesome" in at least SOME situation nearly every day. For example, I just ate a cookie today--okay, actually two. And who knows? Maybe something unexpected will happen in my own life and I'll have to put my own kids in public school.
If you choose to send your children to public school, do you need to feel guilty?
2011Res: To Matt: You call in the afternoon almost every day to see how I'm doing. I'm glad we're a part of your life even when you're off at work. To Heidi: I savored your little kitten-like tendency to "knead" me while you nurse. I savored it especially because I cut your sharp little nails today. Dear Mr H: today I made enchiladas because you were craving them.
Noah's 5th Birthday
2 months ago