Thursday, December 18, 2014

Facing Guilt

One thing that seems to keep coming up this holiday season in social media circles, conversations--hey, even at the store-- is guilt. Have you ever noticed that the higher the expectations or excitement, the more the feelings of insufficiency seem to grow? One of my new-mother friends posted on Facebook that she is forcing herself to stop looking at Pinterest until after Christmas, because every time she sees pictures of beautiful mantles and perfectly-wrapped gifts under the tree, she finds herself playing the comparison game and realizing she doesn't measure up.

Photo by By Feelart at
See, the problem with comparisons is we're always comparing our reality to someone else's fantasy. Our brokenness, our imperfections--to someone else's Sunday-best-smiles.

The only person we know intimately enough to truly be honest about strengths and faults is our own selves. So comparing ourselves to others is only robbing us of seeing the beauty of who we are in God.

The thing is, guilt that leads to feelings of worthlessness is not from God. Genuine, helpful guilt grows us-- it leads us to repentance and makes us stronger as we are prompted to better see who we are in Christ. False guilt does the opposite. It keeps us from seeing who we are in Christ, because it weighs us down.

It's amazing how in holiday seasons in particular, the guilt can rush in fast. Maybe you haven't finished your shopping, or you're not feeling crafty enough with your desserts, or your holiday lights are subpar. Stop. Worrying. Over It. Seriously. Instead of beating yourself up all day and all night, remember that God created you with a beauty and a purpose all your own, and He wants to spend time with you this holiday season.

It's difficult to see ourselves as a people who are sought-after, prized by God, when we're so worried over our burnt Christmas cookies that we've convinced ourselves we are failures at life.

And it is oh-so-easy to allow this tendency to slip into our perception of our writing. Maybe you're reading a good book right now and feeling like you'll never write like that. Well, guess what. You won't. Because that author is following God's plan for her writing, and you have an equally unique, equally powerful calling for your own. By worrying about being as good as someone else, we strip ourselves of the ability to see the gifts God has put within us.

I think sometimes we consider ourselves "humble" when we look at ourselves with these guilty eyes. It's a "good job, me-- I'm living in humility" kind of moment. But we've got it all wrong. Why stumble and hobble through the writing life, convincing ourselves of our many faults, when God has called us to leap and dance and run? Confidence has never been the same thing as pride. And false guilt has never led to productivity-- in writing or in our spiritual lives.

So here's to taking a break, slipping on some fuzzy socks, grabbing your Bible, and enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate today. Who cares if you haven't wrapped all your gifts, finished your word count for the day, or even put your tree up yet? You are loved, precious, and sought after because you are God's. Take a few moments to reframe your perspective today, and I think you'll find your list of perceived failures much shorter than you once thought.

Since I won't get another chance before then, I'd love to wish you all a Merry Christmas! All the Alley Cats appreciate each one of you readers and the time you spend with us on the blog. Enjoy this holiday season!


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blog, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Ashley, what a great post! You're so right that comparison is a deadly practice. We always compare our greatest weaknesses with someone else's greatest strengths. No win for us.

And you're right that when we can see ourselves through God's perspective we have peace to walk out the callings He gives us with confidence.

Merry Christmas my friend!

Ashley Clark said...

Thank you, Jeanne! Merry Christmas to you as well! <3