Yesterday as I made my morning five-minute flip through Facebook while offering birthday wishes, I saw pictures of a dear friend’s family and guilt almost knocked me off the sofa. This friend is faithful to check in on me, initiate get-togethers, and offer encouragement when I’m down—all good things. So why the guilt?
Well, this friend is usually the one to initiate contact. In fact, it feels like most of my friends are the ones initiating contact. I think of them, but then life piles on and I forget to hit send on my “how are you?” texts.
I feel guilty that my kid is wearing pants that aren’t long enough…and I lack the energy to get to the store to remedy that.
I feel guilty that my other kid isn’t sitting up yet…because clearly it’s my fault from lack of time spent sitting with her on the floor.
I feel guilty that my counters need a good scrub.
That I have yet to visit my sister’s new home.
That I’m behind on entering records.
That I don’t iron.
That Little Miss is on formula and Little Butt eats hotdogs for lunch.
That I take naps.
That I don’t cook…even though My Guy prefers to be the household chef.
That my flower beds look like a prehistoric jungle and I managed to let the mums on my porch die.
That I need help more often than not.
That I don’t do more.
Basically, I feel guilty that I’m human. That I somehow don’t measure up to some imaginary, Pinterest-driven yardstick of who I should be.
This guilt tells me something significant about myself: I am seeking approval from sources outside myself. There’s some random checklist in my brain of what a good wife and mom and friend and housekeeper and business owner looks like, and I’ve somehow missed the mark too many times to count.
For me, a good way to combat this guilt is to ask myself, “Would doing this thing be good for my soul?” In other words, will it help me to live a more authentic and joyful life to obsess over food and cleanliness and keeping up with everyone? Chances are the answer is no more often than not. Yes, reaching out to friends will benefit me—but only if I have the emotional capacity to do so. A clean house will help lift my mood, if achieved without sacrificing something greater such as time to fully meet my family’s needs and giving myself space for adequate rest.
Basically, guilt is a liar at worst and a twister of truth at best. When he whispers in my ear, I must hold up a hand signaling him to wait while I pause to determine what is best. Then I can walk forward confident in my decision and free from his awful burden.
Life is too short to live subject to a dictator like guilt. What are you going to do to fight him?