What’s With the Guilt?

Every year around the holidays, people are encouraged to give to those who are less fortunate. Churches and other charitable organizations collect food for Thanksgiving, toys for Christmas, and more. It’s wonderful when we can ditch the commercialism and the selfishness that comes with this time of year, and choose to give to others.

This week my church gave food to those families in the community who struggle to make ends meet while their kids are out of school for the Thanksgiving break. A few days ago I went grocery shopping, buying the items that were designated for this specific drive. I had a set budget for this particular trip and I stuck to it – an alarmingly difficult task for me. As I was shopping, pulling items off the shelves, I wanted to give more than I had allotted. I felt so guilty that I could only give this little amount, I wanted to be able to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars and feed many families. I wanted to empty the shelves and fill my shopping basket to the brim.

The longer I spent in the store, the more my guilt rose. I felt like what I could do just wasn’t enough.

I tried to talk myself down, I tried to speak positively to myself, but it was of little use. I was still beating me up, but I bought the groceries that were in my budget and started the drive to the donation center. The whole drive, I told myself that what I had purchased was okay and that it would help families, but I was having a hard time believing me. I remembered what I wrote about just the other day, reminding myself that I didn’t need to be the hero or the savior.

When I walked into the donation center I breathed an immense sigh of relief. There were piles and piles of food in the warehouse that had already been diligently sorted by hard-working volunteers. There was more than enough!

The guilt I had been feeling was immediately removed – I had played my part. I did what I could. And other people did what they could. When we all come together something amazing happens!

Have you ever had a reaction like this?
Do you ever feel guilty about doing what you can do?

Know that you’re not alone. But when this happens, take some time to think about what’s causing that guilt. Then submit that to God and let his perfect love remove the blame and shame that we can so easily take on.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” Romans 8:1-2 (NLT)

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