I have a friend (or had one-- you decide) who would feel so guilty about not reciprocating my gestures of friendship, that she'd 'hide' from me. And then feel guilty some more.
Oh my. We'd have the best times ever when we'd get together two or three times yearly. We'd laugh and relax and watch movies in our basement or go out to eat or share lunch with our husbands or visit at outdoor church functions. We had much in common. But then Life would get in the way, especially for her since she has a real job, and too, she lives a distance away over the New York state thruway, the stretch which makes me oh-so-nervous. So always there were obstacles to our getting together, but as I said, when we did, we both agreed it was grand. Simply grand.
Once a couple years passed that we didn't see each other but I wrote letters, mailed a couple gifts and she called me sometimes and sent Christmas cards. More time passed then her husband called and asked if he could bring 'Sarah' over to our house as a surprise because he knew she'd been missing me, but she was imagining I was upset with her because she'd allowed our friendship to go stale. Silent, even.
So he brought her over and Sarah was so happy her husband had 'pushed' her into this visit. And after I assured her that I'd never been mad at her, we proceeded in having the sweetest fellowship ever. Well, except that she reiterated her list of all the things in this life which make her feel guilty.
Sarah had a long list. It wasn't a list with big-time sins--she's robbed no banks nor committed any murders and has never, ever even thought about straying from her marriage. No, not things like that, but rather, she still felt guilty that, when her daughter was young, she prayed she'd be popular because, Sarah, herself, had struggled with her own unpopularity in high school. Her daughter did indeed become popular, a fact Sarah regrets because she believes her daughter's popularity was the source of all her hardships in high school and ever since. With every mistake her daughter makes, Sarah blames herself for that long ago prayer.
That's the kind of guilt I mean, the kind which rides around upon your head like a heavy, uncomfortable bag of dry cement, veering you into a ditch to the left, a ditch to the right due to great imbalance. And slowing down every single journey you take.
Since moving to this farm we live even farther from Sarah and her husband and though I've sent a few cards and notes I've not heard back from my friend for at least 5 years, perhaps more. I've emailed her --unanswered, all. Sarah, most likely, has slipped back into thinking I'm mad at her, when actually, I'm just sad. Sad that, for the 17 years I've known her, Sarah's life seems to go from one sad happening to another, from one guilty ditch to another, seldom varying from the well-worn veering path where condemnation leads her.
And today if you, too, are walking that same path, I hope you will remind Sarah (and yourself) that Jesus died to carry all that guilt away. And the conviction He now brings is wrapped inside a Love so great, a burden so light, that there are never, ever any bags of dry cement within His outstretched hands. There's only guidance, light and freedom and a straight path to joy.
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." ... Matthew 11:29, 30
Need a laugh today? Read this. (I'd love to know if it made you smile.)
"... do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength..." ... Nehemiah 8:10
To everything, there is a season-- even friendship.