11/03/2021

Glorious Guilt

Posted in Encouragement, Finding Faith, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , at 9:26 pm by The Water Bearer

Do you ever look back at your past mistakes and still feel intense feelings of guilt, even long after you have made amends or been saved? Some of you may wish these guilty feelings away, but I see them as precious and life changing. Feeling guilty for those times we really messed up is the appropriate emotion. In fact I’d be worried if you can look back at something horrible you did and feel ok about it. Let me tell you one of my most horrifying actions that still causes me so much guilt!

One early November, when my daughter was 6 years old, she asked me “Is Santa real Mumma?” In our family I had never tried to sell that commercialised lie to my children. I let them get a book from Santa at Kindy if he was making an appearance, but I never put presents from him under our tree. If you’re curious as to why, when I am not from any religious group who all hold this same opinion, you can read my “Poem of Christmas Woe”. So when she asked me, I replied “Do you want me to tell you the truth or would you like me to tell you the story all children in our culture are told?” she looked me straight in the eye and said “Tell me the truth” So I told her the story of Saint Nicholas, and that he had lived a long time ago and that Santa was a way of carrying on his tradition and honoring his generosity but it had all gotten a bit out of hand.

I’ll let you in on a little secret though, I may have sounded strong and confident when I argued my reasons for this stance, but I had to hold this stance against every single one of our family and friends who all made their kids believe in Santa. I had to do it while I was suffering from serious mental health episodes and with the threat of being deemed insane as my father was whenever he stood against the crowd in his faith. So it was extremely scary to stand on my own like that. To protect myself and this stance, I made her promise not to tell this secret to her school friends because that would spoil all the efforts her friends parents made to keep the magic of Christmas alive and it was up to them to tell them the truth when they felt it was time. She happily agreed and kept our secret for the entire Christmas season, smiling along with all her friends as they discussed what Santa would bring them.

The following year, around mid-December, I got a phone call from one of my closest friends, she was pretty mad when she explained that my daughter had told her son about Saint Nicholas and that his younger sister had heard and came crying to her that “Santa was DEAD!” Her disappointment in me sparked a chain of events that I will forever feel guilty for. Just thinking about it it brings tears to my eyes. I was so embarrassed and scared of the rejection my friend could inflict upon me that I angrily called my now 7 year old daughter from her room to scold her for sharing the secret I had sworn her to keep. I wasn’t just mad as much as I was afraid, afraid of being a bad parent, afraid of being a bad friend, afraid of being a fanatical freak ready for exile. Terrified would be more accurate. As you know when fear explodes it comes across as intense anger. I really made my poor precious little girl feel like utter shit. She immediately burst into tears of regret. I put her on the phone to my friend so she could apologise and her little heart sobbed as she pleaded with my friend for forgiveness. 

When I saw her tears, and her big eyes filled with painful remorse I had a huge moment of clarity. I realised that she had done absolutely nothing wrong. I felt sick! I had thrown my poor daughter under the bus to avoid taking the brunt of my friends disappointment and anger. Immediately I ran into my daughters room as she soaked the pillow with her tears. I picked her up into my arms and held her and I told her “You did absolutely nothing wrong Hunni. I am so sorry for being mad at you. It was my fault and I was completely wrong for getting angry at you. I promise you from now on I will have your back, no matter what! I will never again allow what other people think of me to be more important than you. You told the truth and you should always tell the truth. You did nothing wrong. I was so very very wrong. Please forgive me!”

Recalling that moment triggers masses of guilt in me, but I do not wish it away. Do I wish I hadn’t done it? Bloody oath I do! But I can’t go back and rewrite history. I have to live with what I did and all the other previous times I likely had the same awful reaction when my children weren’t perfectly pleasing to those who I felt I needed to impress. But feeling guilty is the exact right and appropriate response. It is the shocking pain of that guilt that changed me from that moment on, it made me a better parent, and I have always had my two daughter’s backs since that day 10+ years ago, no matter who has an issue with me or my beliefs, or my children.

There is yet another glorious aspect to painful guilty memories, and that is the gratitude and humility that comes when we look from our guilt to the cross. The realisation of how desperately I need forgiveness, I need a Saviour to save me from myself and my guilt and my awful mistakes, is what brings tremendous value to what Christ did for me, and for everyone! I flood with gratitude when I see how much He has changed me from the person I once was. So if you find yourself looking back on your biggest mistakes and feeling huge amounts of guilt, take stock and be glad, don’t try to down play them, or hide them away, because they are your testimonies of God’s grace. If you find yourself looking back and being numb to your sins or convincing yourself they weren’t that bad, then you should be very very worried about the state of your heart. For through Christ’s sacrifice He can forgive everything….except an excuse!

 

04/02/2013

Fear of Mistakes*

Posted in Encouragement, Family, Musings, Self-Awareness tagged , , , , , , , , , at 11:50 am by The Water Bearer

I have another confession to make…

Deep down I’m petrified!

anxiety

Of getting it WRONG!

Am I alone in this fear?  … I doubt it.

This has been a fear all of my life, although I am only just recently beginning to accept and understand it on a new level. I can get quite defensive if I am accused of doing something wrong, especially when I know I tried my best and someone else assumes I didn’t. I take it as a personal attack, an accusation that I didn’t care enough to try.

This is not to say that I won’t admit when I am wrong, if I see my error first I will be the first to announce it, in fact I run to apologise and correct my err. If I have ever consciously chosen to do the wrong thing I expect to feel remorse and will take my punishment on the chin.

My fear is more that I will be deemed unworthy because of my short-comings, shamed to the point of rejection, rejected to the point of depression. It is those times that come unexpected, those left field errors, the times you thought you got it right and it turns out you got it WRONG! When you realise you have been deceived, by yourself, or by your inner enemies. Times like these I feel the colour drain from my face, my stomach does a flip and heat rises up my neck like a flame, covering my face in beads of sweat. My mind becomes a chaos of thoughts of shame and self-condemnation, justifications and desperation. In some cases tears well in my eyes.

As I mentioned in my last post, somewhere along the road of life I have subconsciously attached being ‘Right’ with being ‘Happy’, and therefore if I am wrong I am doomed to be ashamed and unhappy. Yet most of us understand we must make mistakes in order to learn. I love to learn so I should love making mistakes. Right? Wrong again!

As I’ve gotten older I have made many efforts to tackle this fear, after my car accident I suffered tremendous attacks of anxiety which made my ability to concentrate extremely difficult, if not impossible. I spent 3 years after my car accident, off work and in therapy, trying to recover both physically and mentally. I felt useless, I couldn’t imagine how I could be of any use to an employer or to my family. I needed quite a bit of rehabilitation to help me feel capable of working again, anxiety had me in it’s tight grip and I was sure my constant lack of concentration and focus would cause me to be punished and looked down on, viewed as worthless and perhaps even fired. I couldn’t bare the thought of letting people down, especially not an employer or a loved one.

mistakes

Therapy and working since then has helped me accept that we all make mistakes, human errors are unavoidable, I needed to learn to give myself a break.

My first job after the accident was with my best friend, she was extremely understanding and supportive. The boss of our department did me the world of good, He never punished his staff for making mistakes, he never made us feel like we had let him down if we didn’t reach perfection, in fact the opposite. He made fun of us in a joking, sarcastic manner, like a friend would, and always took our side against cranky customers. He made us feel we were good enough, even if we had done nothing but make mistakes all day. Lets face it, we have all had days like that..Haven’t we?

My recent breakthrough in therapy, made me aware that I allow this fear to infiltrate my parenting techniques, and I have been making every attempt to undo some of the damage this may have had on my children. It is not easy, I am still afraid, I wonder if I will ever be able to let these attacks slide off my back like water off a duck. (There are some great tips in this post how to prevent a cycle of this fear passing onto our children, also Brené Brown has done some amazing research in this area.)

I thank God so much for the realisation of this deep fear, because it is only when we accept something that we can begin to change it, we can place our fears in His capable hands. Our children deserve to feel good enough even when they make mistakes. We deserve to feel good enough even when we are wrong. Yeshua/Jesus would not have needed to come and suffer such a horrendous ordeal if we were capable of being perfect on our own. Our true happiness doesn’t come from getting it right all the time, it comes from knowing we are always worthy to Him, that He will never reject us, and that we will always be loved by Him.

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