Job 10:15 - If I am guilty--woe to me! Even if I am innocent, I cannot lift my head, for I am full of shame and drowned in my affliction.
There it is again. Guilt. Yes, guilt. Guilt we feel because we’ve failed our families again because our chronic pain or illness causes us to no longer be able to do what we used to do. And, someone else has to pick up the slack. They have to do extra chores or even show up to family gatherings without us.
I know how that feels. It plagues me around every corner these days especially because a family member’s birthday is coming up and my family is gathering out of town. It’s difficult for me to travel long distances because of my health.
Sometimes my family is very understanding and don’t try to push me to attend such gatherings. But at other times, they think that I should and could travel out of town for events. In other words it’s all in my head.
Out comes the measuring spoon, no, out comes the soup ladle as I’m covered with a cloak of shame and guilt. We must remember that just because you fail at something and you’re no longer able to participate it doesn’t mean you have to be riddled with guilt.
Have you been there? If so then you know what I’m talking about. So what’s a person to do? Should we “push” ourselves and go to events anyway? Yet, if we do, what happens? When we push ourselves when we’re really not supposed to, we end up with a pain flare-up right there. Right on the spot for all to see.
Then another series of guilt shows up as we quickly step out on the stage of pain and miss that last jump of the ballerina and fall flat on our face. It’s not something we planned. Not something we can control. We’re really not guilty of anything. We love our family and friends. Our hearts break to let people down.
And there we are just as the Bible verse above says, even if we’re not guilty of doing something wrong we become drowned in shame and our affliction. Thankfully God does not hold it against us when we must turn down an invitation to attend an event. If we ask him, he is quick to show us what we can and cannot do. He will never judge us.
So what can we do about this “guilt”? WikiHow, in their article, “Eliminate Guilt,” provides us with some tips on how to eliminate guilt. It can help if we try to understand that we can feel guilt when events are out of our control. Also, guilt can be helpful if it helps us change behaviors that aren’t appropriate to a situation. In addition, regardless of the reason, forgive yourself when you fail.
Finally, we all see things differently. It all depends on the circumstances. There will be times when events come around that you can attend. And on a good day, you might be able to do a few of those chores that don’t press your pain button.
As mentioned above, even if you fail, give yourself credit for at least trying. And as for your friends and family and how they feel about your limitations – show them grace. They don’t always understand what you’re going through and that when you miss events or doing things on your own it hurts your heart.
With God’s help and if others have an open heart, step-by-step we can gently try to explain what we’re feeling about failing to be able to do what healthy people can do. Then we can take off the cloak of guilt and put on the joy that’s around us.
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.