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The Chains of Guilt

January 6, 2017

 

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It is so important to do an emotional spring cleaning before the beginning of each year. To stop and take inventory of where we are emotionally. To heal the places where we have been hurt. To forgive those who have hurt us. To ask for forgiveness where we have erred. To accept the things we cannot change. To let go of those things that are beyond our control. And to forget what needs to be forgotten.
It’s so easy to continually hurt ourselves and others when we are not honest with ourselves. When we have not acknowledged that we are somehow wounded by life’s disappointments, failures and mistakes, we are in danger of repeating the same decisions and making the same mistakes. Only when we face our weaknesses and deal with our emotional scarring do we begin to heal and let go of destructive ways.
A few days ago, I wrote a note to a friend of mine about this matter. She’s one of the most loving people I have ever come across. A warm soul. A creative. With a troubled heart. The past few years of her life have been a series of searching for her purpose and not finding satisfaction in anything. She’s been carrying a load of pain, uncertainty, and family responsibility. And it robbed her of her zest for life. Seeing her pain, I sent her a few lines of encouragement.
She suggested that I share what I wrote to her here in hopes that others will benefit from it as well. I trust that these words will ease your anxiety and eliminate any feelings of inadequacy you might have had.

 
Dear friend,
Since high school, I have watched you work tirelessly to ensure that you and your family are well taken care of. You have made sacrifices that most of us (especially at that age) wouldn’t have, and I applaud you for that. Maybe we (as your friends and family members) have failed in telling you just how amazing you are. Perhaps we have not voiced this often enough, but we appreciate the example you have set for us about what a true leader and a solid family member is. I am always in awe of the grace with which you handle all the difficulties and misfortunes that have come your way. You have carried life’s burdens with so much maturity and humility that it challenges and inspires one to truly cultivate their faith in God. This is just one of many reasons why I look up to and admire you. You have faced life’s challenges with so much grace and ease that we all assumed you were just fine, we were wrong.


My prayer and desire for you this year is that you would walk in your glory! That simply means, be yourself and let go of all the expectations of who you think you should be! Over the years, I have seen glimpses of that glory, and you shine so bright! I have been a witness when you suddenly came alive every time there was a crisis; you always knew what to do and what to say! You are wise beyond your words!
I have also seen you excel at everything you touch! You are skillful and creative with your hands. Pursue that. Let that glory come out and fill the land. Let those things that make you truly happy come out. Share your wisdom and creativity with the world.
May the pressure of “I’m not there yet” be lifted from you. May you find courage to discover who you (really) are, and go after that wholeheartedly.
I think that journey begins with letting go of all the guilt you’ve been holding on to. When we talk, I can hear in your speech that there are lies you have believed about yourself. You say, “Why didn’t I?” and “If only I had…” Don’t you see what those self-defeating words are doing to you inside? Stop putting blame on yourself for things that were beyond your control. Stop harming yourself with these harsh thoughts that you don’t deserve. I know this is easier said than done but, please accept that sometimes things we don’t understand happen and that does not make you a bad person. Remember that there was no way you could’ve kept the death of your loved one from happening. Accept that you could not have prevented certain individuals from walking away. And accept that you tried your best to make a relationship work, but it still failed. And you studied something for which you had no passion because you thought it would give you a better future and it didn’t, but it’s pointless to cry about it now. Darling, nothing you’ve suffered has stripped you of your power and potential. Life happens. We make mistakes (big ones!) The mess is part of the journey. But you have to learn not to personalize failure. Those things happened, but they don’t define who you are.


It’s time to stop beating yourself up with “I could’ve done better.” You probably could’ve have, like most of us, but you didn’t know then what you know now. This self-condemning trend must end so you can hear heaven cheering you on. What matters now is that you are here. What will you do with today?
Rid yourself of the guilt that you are not where you thought you’d be by now. The guilt that you wasted your good years. The guilt that good opportunities (and a few potential mates) passed you by while you were chasing a career. The guilt that you didn’t say goodbye to a family member who passed suddenly.
Guilt often comes disguised as ambition but it is negative; discouraging, and deadly to your self esteem. It keeps the memory of your mistakes and misfortune so fresh in your mind that it becomes difficult to see past your own pain. Guilt robs you of the joy of today over the regrets of yesterday.
And worst of all, guilt prevents you from enjoying life. It makes you believe that you are not worthy of today, not worthy of good things happening and not worthy of your dreams coming true.


Let go of what didn’t work.
Accept it for what it is.
Let 2016 remain exactly where it is.
Receive forgiveness. And learn to forgive yourself. You might not be where you want to be yet, but it’s important that you enjoy the journey there! Today is yours, to be whatever you desire to be.
It’s not too late.
You can still try again. Love again. Apply again. Date again. Dance again.
There is still time to apologize, to forgive and to dream a new dream.
Don’t bash yourself, The One who created you is not honored in you crushing yourself this way. He is greatly pleased with who He made when He made you. He is in the business of turning messes into miracles! Be patient with yourself. Walk in your glory and in no time, you’ll find that all your dreams will begin to fall into place.

 
Love and light,
Nono Cele
Tweet Me: @Nono_Cele
Email: nono@nonocele.co.za

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