A (Un) Healthy ‘Guilt’ Gland

TheDiscipleMD

A hyperactive ‘guilt’ gland seems to plaque many of us regarding our lives. Never before in history has a people been so inundated with mountains of expectations, most of which is fabricated by the society in which we live. Because of the constant 24 hour barrage of the internet, television, and social media, we are constantly being exposed to the lives and accomplishments of others. The temptation to compare ourselves with others is overwhelming and the result is a constant nag of the conscience regarding our personal failures, or the failures of our kids. This, of course, leads to an unhappy life.

When we internalize and compare our lives to others it will always come up short; always! We have a tendency to pull bits and pieces of others lives, put them together and construct an unachievable ‘straw’ person who really doesn’t exit.  Against this person we fail on all counts.  We find ourselves lacking in all aspects of our lives when we do this. Our church service or calling is not as important, we don’t make enough money, our house is not as pretty, our kids aren’t as succesful. The list of failures is endless. This type of attitude is not of Christ.  Could the teachings of the Savior help us regarding this great plaque that threatens the mental, emotional, and physical health of us and our families?

Found in the 20th chapter of Matthew is the story of James and John who approached the Savior regarding their ‘rank’ in the eternities. Their presumptive questions regarding their status in Christ’s kingdom perturbed the other ten apostles. And although the Savior had made it abundantly clear that service was the greatest measure of a person, they still dreamed about what honor and rank they might have in his kingdom. It appears they were comparing themselves with the others and were in need of some assurance that they were on the ‘top’ of the Saviors list. The Savior rebuked them and reminded them of his earlier teachings that they needed to humble themselves as little children to become the greatest. When we develop humility, we stop comparing and begin to rejoice in the accomplishments of others. We also stop feeling guilty about our ‘lack’ of worldly success because we understand that the kingdom of God is not of this world.

Feeling guilt can be productive if it propels us to improve our personal lives and relationship with God. But when we coat ‘guilt’ with envy it can paralyze and cripple us.  A pill of guilt coated in envy is bitter to the taste. It might even be fatal to our spiritual growth.  Let us be humble like little children, as charged by the Savior. Let us live happy lives by reducing jealously and envy in our lives. In so doing, our ‘guilt’ gland will be healthy and will only be used to improve our lives; not destroy it!

 

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