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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Guilt No More!

A few weeks ago I was assisting with video taping the testimony of a woman that aborted her second child.  I'll have the link to this video below.  She had been raised Catholic, actually in a Catholic orphanage, so she knew that abortion was the killing of a baby, and she had not been deceived that what was being aborted was pregnancy tissue, so she knew even as she drove there, waited in the waiting room and laid on the steel table as the procedure was done, that she was having her unborn baby killed.  She just thought there wasn't any other way.  She was divorced from her husband and she could barely support the first child they had together.

She mentioned there were no crisis pregnancy centers then, back in 1973.  There were no sidewalk counselors.  She wishes now that there were.

She says how her friends and even her ex-husband tried to cheer her up, from what followed: a very long lasting depression.  She would go out with friends drinking and such but essentially every night finished the same way, for 20 years, with her crying herself to sleep.

Not everyone with guilt from sin cries themselves to sleep, but there are some who do know this prison of guilt, sadness, and sorrow.

Some of us let our minds be taken back to our failings, when we hurt others, or simply repeated the first sin in the garden, believing a lie that we could know good from evil, and think and do what was pleasing, or expedient for the god of self rather than surrendering to the will of God, and falling at his feet as Mary did (see John 11:32), but instead deliberately choosing to do or to enable sin to happen.  Sin that caused pain for others, including the pain of the Savior during his passion.

There was something I learned at some point and then was rather clearly written about by St. Ignatius in his teachings on the discernment of spirits.  Dwelling in guilt is a state encouraged by evil spirits that want to keep us from the peace and joy, and abundant life that are Christ's gift to us.  He has already won the victory, and already suffered the penalty of our sins.  We can and should feel sorrow and regret for our sins and failings, but we should refuse to let them distract us from the goodness and love, the forgiveness and mercy, the healing that Christ wills for us. 

  • If something keeps us from rejoicing in our salvation (see Psalm 51:12) due to Christ's obedience and love,
  • If something keeps us from knowing the freedom that comes from surrendering our hearts daily and throughout the day to the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit,
  • If something keeps us from the confident trust that no matter how badly we screwed up, how hurtful and damaging and far reaching the effects are from our sin, the truth is we are loved, and blessed,

then that something is not from God! 

That something is being orchestrated by those fallen spirits that followed Lucifer out of heaven and are at war with the children of God as described in Revelation 12.  That something is keeping us from a fuller experience of the love of God so necessary for us to grow in faith and to bear fruit for our Lord and King.

Yes, we are weak, we are selfish, we are proud in our intellectual myopia and encouraged by the secular, moral relativism of our peers and society.  Yes, we have been given much, the Gospel has been read to us and hopefully preached to us in words and by the example of those God puts into our lives, and yet we sinned and continue to sin.

But the thing I am trying to get those of you to know, those of you like Maria in the video to know, is how much Jesus truly loves you.  He suffered not just out of obedience but to pay the price for my sin and yours, no matter how serious, how grave, how undoable, how awful that sin and its effects are. 

Maria said at one point in filming the video that she still feels the guilt from the abortion.  I asked her does she mean guilt or regret, because I think that is a key part of her testimony.  She agreed it was regret now, not the guilt that imprisoned her for so many years.  She went on to explain that when she responded to an altar call the counselor told her all her sins were forgiven.  Her question was whether the sin of abortion had been forgiven.  And the counselor told her, "All of your sins."  This sin of her abortion had been confessed many times, but she still had that question if it had been forgiven.

Now, she believed God forgave her, but it was still many more years before she forgave herself.  She still regrets the abortion as she thinks about how that baby is the missing sibling in her older daughter's and younger daughter's lives and the missing aunt or uncle to her grandchildren.  They needed that person in their lives and they are missing out because she had the baby killed.

So, the regret lingers and surfaces.  Still, she is free now.  What does that mean?  She describes it as finally accepting that Christ's sacrifice was to bear the guilt of her sin, and accepting and believing and trusting in his love meant forgiving herself too.  She says the door to leave her prison was open the entire time, but it was years after responding to the altar call that she finally walked through that door and accepted the healing.

Only this past year did she begin speaking about her abortion.  She told the leader of our Prolife club at school, and then was asked by him to tell her testimony in the high school chapel.  She then began attending our Saturday "Witness for Life" visits to two abortion clinics in the Chicago area.  Her granddaughter, that she is raising as her own child, comes with her.  You'll see her in the video too.

  • Are you prone to experience guilt for your past sins and do you want to be free of it?
  • What is keeping you in that prison of guilt and shame? 
  • Do you want to be free of it?
Recently I noticed a verse reference written in my daughter's yearbook by a friend.  I wonder if her friend wrote it there because she knows we are Catholic, and she is taught that Catholics, just like Martin Luther, are paralyzed in their guilt.  This is why they use the word "Liberty" in the naming of their schools and churches.  The verse really provokes much thought:

12as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

First thing that hits me is this is in the OT - the Old Testament.  It isn't Ephesians or Romans or Galatians.  This is back during the time of King David.  Yet here is God saying he removes our transgressions from us.  Now, in the light of Salvation History, we know he does this through God becoming incarnate of the Virgin after she was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, and then as the Lamb of God, (prefigured by the sacrificing of unblemished lambs exemplified in the sacrifice of Abel, later the sacrifice of Abraham in place of Isaac, by all the Israelites the night of the Passover, and then established for the Israelites by Moses at the command of God) suffered torture, persecution, bore the punishment in his soul for our sins as he hung powerless on the cross, and died.

You know what?  God wants us free.  He loves us and wants us to walk out of the prison of guilt, and jump into his arms like St. Therese described so beautifully:

The depth of her spirituality, of which she said, "my way is all confidence and love," has inspired many believers. In the face of her littleness and nothingness, she trusted in God to be her sanctity. She wanted to go to heaven by an entirely new little way. "I wanted to find an elevator that would raise me to Jesus." The elevator, she wrote, would be the arms of Jesus lifting her in all her littleness. (Guy Gaucher, The Spiritual Journey of Therese of Lisieux, p.2)
God taught me more about this through my youngest two children.  My daughter will misbehave in some way, and it soon becomes a battle of wills.  She stays entrenched in it, gets angry and pouty, and will not accept a hug or anything to try to bring it to a quicker and happier end.  Eventually, usually after she gets a nap, or some other means of a longer timeout, she does accept the hug, and all is better.

My son, on the other hand, as soon as he does something he knows is wrong and he shouldn't have done -- could be hurting me, his sister, wrecking something in the house, he very soon, almost immediately, realizes what this has done to our relationship, and gets very sorrowful and wants a hug and kiss. 

Now some of you may be saying my younger son has me wrapped around his finger, but let's get back to my point!  He is very confident in my love for him, and my forgiveness when he comes running into my arms.

That is what I think Jesus meant about becoming like children, and is the core of St. Therese's spirituality, that she learned as a child jumping on her earthly father's lap, "Fortunately I could go home every evening and then I cheered up. I used to jump on Father's knee and tell him what marks I had had, and when he kissed me all my troubles were forgotten...I needed this sort of encouragement so much."

2He called a child, whom he put among them, 3and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 18:2-3)

So if the devil, the evil spirits want to keep you from jumping into Jesus's arms, and thanking him for his victory over evil, over sin, and for bearing our guilt, do you want to do what they want, or do you want to walk out the door of the prison of guilt that has been open for you all this time?

Walk through, and experience the lightness and joy that are yours, because of the love of your God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

My words are not as helpful as meditating on scripture.  As Jesus so perfectly put it:

"If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free."  (John 8:31-32)

So let's start now, and please join me in committing to read the Bible every day!  This is what Billy Graham would say when looking into the TV camera during his crusades, right after leading people in the sinner's prayer.  "Read your Bible every day!"

Please pray to the Holy Spirit, and slowly read and absorb the love and truth in Psalm 103 below.

Here's quick prayer to the Holy Spirit:
Come Holy Spirit!  Come at the most powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, your well-beloved spouse.

10He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
13As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
14For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.
15As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field;
16for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
18to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
19The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
20Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obedient to his spoken word.
21Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers that do his will.
22Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul. (Psalm 103)
 
Receive the unfathomable compassion, and mercy, and blessings of our God---Sovereign, Holy, and Loving!  This means forgiving yourself too!  Wouldn't it grieve our Lord whose compassion and sacrifice of the Lamb of God have made you free?  Jump into his arms, just like the beloved child that you are. 

When you-know-who encourages you to indulge in guilt, tell him, as Jesus did:

23“Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” (Matthew 16:23)

I think Mary's recent post at the Beautiful Gate also helps us learn the true humility, and peace that comes from trusting that the Holy Spirit is working on us according to God's will and timing. 

Here is the video testimony:
If you can't see the video below, please try this link to view it on YouTube:  http://youtu.be/Z7NS8KNelRI



6 comments:

  1. Colleen,

    Oh this is wonderful. Thank you for sharing her testimony and your insights on guilt. What an amazing grace the Lord has given you to be a part of His hands of healing mercy.
    Blessings +

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement, Caroline. This was a post that laid on my heart and mind for awhile. I hope it does help someone break free and step into the merciful, loving arms of our Lord!

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  2. Excellent post on guilt, forgiveness and healing, Colleen. I love your thoughts on God's love and "spiritual childhood". Thank you!

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    1. Hi Mary, I very much benefitted from your recent post as you can see from the link above. I like the truth that the timing of the Holy Spirit's work on my soul is also in God's hands.

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  3. Thank you for sharing this, Colleen!

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  4. Thank you for stopping by Colleen! It is always good to hear from you!

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