I try to pray as I walk, and I do a lot of walking, so I should be doing a lot of praying. But that doesn’t always happen. A few days ago I saw a girl with incredibly cute sunglasses. They were pink and obviously very expensive, and I wanted a pair. I’ve never wanted a pair of expensive sunglasses; I’ve never had a pair of expensive sunglasses. In fact, I absolutely don’t deserve a pair because I lose mine so often. But I actually began to justify my need for incredibly cute—and incredibly expensive—pink sunglasses.
Then I remembered God, and I felt bad: this was supposed to be my prayer time; time I set aside for God. I felt guilty. I told myself, “Elizabeth, those sunglasses are nice, but so are yours. Thank God for all of your blessings.” I could hear the words ringing in my ears.
Later that evening it started again. I started praying while I was washing dishes. I began to engage in prayer but, slowly, my mind switched over to thoughts about the next day. I drifted off into thinking about all the things a had to do. And I became, once more, ashamed and full of guilt. Why couldn’t I just focus on prayer? Although water is often considered to be a symbol of cleansing, at this moment, the clear water flowing out of the faucet symbolized only my feelings about my own Christian-walk and myself. My guilt was flowing like a river. It was flowing out of the faucet and over my dishes, covering my hands and my heart.
I started to pray again; but this time it was for forgiveness—forgiveness for wallowing in needless guilt when I could have been praising my Lord.
Although I believe guilt plays a role in our lives by making us conscious of our higher calling, I also believe that if we get caught up in feeling bad about minor things, we are wasting our time. Hebrews 10:22 tells us that through Jesus’ body and blood we have “our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience.”
Guilt is a tool that can tear us away from God, making us believe we aren’t worthy of forgiveness and love. It can damage our relationships with friends, spouses and families in the same way. And it can tear away precious moments that could be used for so much more. Every moment we spend living in guilt is a moment we could spend praising God in and through our lives.
It’s not a sin for me to want cute pink sunglasses, and there’s nothing wrong about making a list of things I need to do tomorrow. And instead of feeling guilty over passing thoughts, I’m going to remember the cleansing blood and go back to talking to my Creator and Lord.