guilt

one of the biggest challenges i face daily is my constant sense of guilt.

i feel guilty:
when i don’t visit “enough” people,
when i’m too sick to be “productive”,
when i get consumed with other activities and forget to call,
when i find a note a week too late that someone is sick or in the hospital or expecting surgery,
when i don’t get a visit in to the nursing home on the day i plan only to find out the person i was going to visit died that night,
when i’m on vacation or out of town/state and can’t get back for a visit,
when i spend more time in meetings or staring at books and computer screens than i do with parishioners,
when i declare that a snow day means i stay home and don’t venture out,
when i ignore phone calls on my day off,
when i’m relieved and excited that church is cancelled because this means i don’t have to finish the sermon that isn’t ready and i can sleep in

i know i only have so much time in a day, in a week, in a month
but the guilt arrives when my sense of priorities is thrown off, when i think i’m not earning my way, when i’m not doing what i believe a good pastor should do

yes, i know that some of my guilt comes from circumstances that cannot be changed.
life can get away from us far too quickly.
like when i am out of town attending a meeting and get a call that someone is dying and the family wants me there but i don’t arrive until their loved one is already gone.
when it’s times like these, i feel guilty because i wasn’t there and wanted to be, because i should have been even when i know that i cannot be in two places at once.

but some guilt comes from my choices and actions and poor planning.
i get consumed reading for a Bible study and forget that i was going to call someone about their day until it’s midnight and a completely inappropriate time to call.
i spend hours looking for resources for my sermon, glance up at the clock to realize that i didn’t get to the nursing home in time to play bingo that afternoon.
or most recently, when i choose to sleep and not visit on snow days.

i feel guilty when the weather messes with my plans. out of my control, yes, but what i do during that time is under my control.
lately i’ve rested (aka napped) on days when it’s too cold/snowy/windy to be traveling.
granted, this is probably the main reason i’ve not needed to go to the doctor with some form of an illness since i’ve spent most snow days sleeping over 12 hours each day in an attempt to stay healthy.
but instead of sleeping i theoretically could have been reading numerous theological books, or perhaps half the Bible, or have spent countless hours on the phone checking in on people, or, or, or…
but i didn’t.
and so i feel guilty for being selfish.

each decision and action affects my sense of what i ought to be doing compared to what i have done.
i know i can be better at managing time, and i’m trying.
but the guilt won’t go away until i have perfected my schedule.
i want to be perfect, not just good enough.
and so my guilt remains until my idea of perfect is reached, even when my standards might be unrealistic for my skills and my time.

i keep reminding myself that God didn’t create a perfect world with perfect people.
God created a good world with very good people.

but in light of tomorrow’s text (Jesus calling for repentance and for people to follow him), i am going to be intentional about making sure that my snow day starts in thanks to God.
even though i might feel guilty about my joy at not having services, i can be grateful for the beauty of pristine white snow and clear, crisp air and the wind that blows over all of God’s good creation.

so whenever i wake up (since i won’t be setting an alarm):
– i will read the scriptures for the day.
– i will reflect.
– i will share the joy of worship and praising God from the comforts of my home, even though i will not be gathering as two or three or more.
and if i’m very good, i will remember to share with others.

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