I grew up with preacher parents who had high moral expectations. I don’t blame them; I will have high moral expectations for my children as well. All Christian parents should have high moral standards since being a Christian is more than just saying “I am a Christian.” But I think sometimes children of ministers put a lot of extra pressure on themselves.
With that said, we are born human. Yes, we arrive as sweet little bundles of joy that are seemingly innocent in all things. But the truth is that we are born totally depraved into a fallen world.
The world in which we live is a dark place. We don’t have to watch the news or take a ride through the scary end of town to know this. All we have to do is watch children grow – our children.
It does not take long for kids to start displaying their sinful nature. The nicest couple in the world can be blessed with a strong-willed, temper-throwing, devil child! They may wonder, “where did little Johnny learn this behavior? He has never been around anyone who acts this way.”
The answer is simple. Bad human behavior is only partially learned; the rest is inherited and rooted in the simple fact that we are people. A plant is a plant and it can never be anything more or less than a plant. Likewise, a human is a human and we can never be anything more or less than a human.
It is unhealthy for us to try and be perfect because it is impossible. My whole life, I have strived for spiritual perfection. I considered a good Christian to be one who rarely sins. Since sin is part of my nature, one can imagine how often I let myself down.
I tried to live up to an impossible bar that I set for myself and constantly felt like a failure. I struggled with agonizing guilt and condemnation. I felt as if God was constantly disappointed in me. I would always think, “If people really knew who I was they would consider me the biggest hypocrite alive.”
As a result, I began experiencing constant tension headaches and stomach problems (at least one reason for my chronic migraines). The guilt I constantly felt was literally making me sick, anxious and depressed. I never felt good enough – never!
Honestly, I began to seek out other answers to life because being a “good Christian” was too hard. I made a lot of poor choices and went against my conscience. I learned that living a life of ongoing sin was even more painful than living a life of guilt.
I had to find the middle ground, in which I still search for daily. But God began to speak to my heart and drew me closer to His heart. I clung to Romans 8:1: So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
I have never been a person who wants to take advantage of one’s good favor, but in the case of my spirituality, God left me no choice. I discovered that no matter how hard I tried to avoid sinning, I am prone to be a sinner. Does this mean I should just keep sinning and say “The heck with it?”
Of course not; sin always ends bad and I don’t want my life to be any harder! It simply means that I accept that I am human and I need Jesus’ grace every moment of every day. It means loving myself unconditionally, loving others unconditionally, and loving God unconditionally.
I no longer worry about the nitty-gritty rules of Christian thought and stay far away from “holier than thou” self-righteous people (these types stir ungodly guilt in others because they live in constant guilt themselves). I believe that God’s Word is true when He says:
Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
The answer to guilt is accepting Jesus and His sacrifice for you and allowing Him to be part your daily life. God is not mad at me and God is not mad at you. He is as a good father or mother who constantly and lovingly compels us to greater intimacy with Him.
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