Women and Guilt

It seems to me many women spend countless hours feeling guilty.  I include myself in this group.  When I was working outside the home, I felt guilty because I had to put our oldest child (a nursing baby at the time) into day care.  Fortunately, we were both in the same facility on a naval air station and I could nurse him on breaks.  Also, I knew the ladies were pouring love on my little boy when I couldn’t.

Then, with the arrival of two more babies, I stayed home.  As a women’s libber, I felt guilty because I wasn’t bringing in my share of the bacon.  I felt guilty because my parents had taken out a second mortgage in order to pay for my college education.  I felt guilty I didn’t have a career.   I wondered if I was wasting my life cleaning the house, planning menus, changing diapers and intervening in sibling squabbles.  Add to that, housewifery can be a thankless job. It sometimes seemed the only time anyone notices how much you do is when you don’t do it.  Clothes pile up in the laundry basket, rugs show dust-bunnies, dog hair, debris brought in from the great outdoors and there’s no answer to the question: “What’s for dinner?”  Rick never complained, but I felt guilty over what hadn’t been done.

Then I became an in-home-career woman: a writer.  One would think the guilt would end.  I know I’m not alone when I say I felt there were never enough hours in the day to do all the things I felt I needed to do.  There was always something left undone on my to do list.  A wise friend told me to stop calling it that and retitle it possibilities.  That took some of the guilt away when I didn’t finish the tasks I’d set out for myself.  But the lists of things I needed to do and wanted to do just kept getting longer.

When I became a Christian, the guilt left.  For a while anyway.  All too often I revert to old habits of feeling personally responsible for a host of things. 

I can feel guilty about not being involved in missionary work or the local walkathon.  I can feel guilty about not serving as a deaconess or raising money for cancer research.  I can feel guilty about saying no when someone asks me to speak at a fundraiser on the other side of the country, or teaching writers classes at a conference.  I can feel guilty about not having enough time to spend with friends without taking away time from my own family.

And I haven’t even gone into the guilt of past sins, sins of omission, and a host of “why didn’t I” or “why did I” or “I don’t care enough” or “enough is enough!” situations. 

What do I do with this ocean of guilt? 

Give it to Jesus.  It sounds so simple; an act of will, an act of trust.  Jesus knows how to shoulder guilt and then shrug it into the abyss where it belongs.  I feel weightless, free.  Then I count my blessings, of which I have many – far more blessings than I can even count. 

Surrendering guilt is not a one-time deal.  Not for me, at least, a woman who too easily falls into old habits.

But I’m learning to take a deep breath, pray, and do what I can during this moment, this hour, this day while thanking Jesus for His many promises – not the least of which is a future home in a place of perfect beauty, peace, activity and purpose in His glorious Presence. 

Ah, Heaven.  It sounds heavenly.