I wanted to call this “Guilt, Shame, Duty, and Responsibility” but I was thinking about a personal conundrum and not the entire spectrum of the guilt and responsibility of the human race! Although I wonder if we don’t look at such questions in the broad terms rather than the specific circumstances of life? Usually, looking at the broad terms tends to tempt us to dismiss our own responsibilities. I know I follow that route, at times.
I felt like writing about the specific story of events that I struggle with, but in retrospect could foresee how quickly we would all jump to our own conclusions and presumptions. I didn’t want people telling me to not feel guilty or offer their comforting words. I appreciate the kindness of people, but this was something I wanted to consider in its larger setting. I couldn’t figure out how to escape that call for comfort, so let’s see how we do in the thinking process by just looking at the common question.
I have so many of these times of asking this of myself, and I know not all of us do… many begin, but the painfulness of looking at the possibility of a “no” answer and all the guilt that would let loose is simply too much. Thus a quick exit into “safe” canopies of constructed answers that serve to displace the question. But I want to really consider the right and the wrong of a specific scale of whether I loved someone enough, whether I did the right thing towards them in that aspect. Whether I did what was in my power to help them, reach out to them, support them “enough” .
Already, there is a consideration of where we obtain our resources to love. In our own experiences we have a varied measure. Some of us are strong, well loved, sound in our foundations of life. Some of us not so much. But if I would look at this from the perspective of what I could expect to draw upon as a Christian, does this apply anymore? Or do I enter a different set of variables altogether?
I think I do. My questions of guiltiness are different. My expectations of resourcefulness and power are different. Whether I can hope to do differently has whole new import of meaning based upon this foundation: Christian. All very different from the basis of what I might think or expect based upon my own ability and inner resources.
In a specific circumstance or two that I am privately considering I see how far short I had fallen. I see no good in self flagellation, and much harm in wallowing in personal guilt. But the facts remain that if I do not see what caused me to love less than I could have, or should have … how will I desire to love more?
I heard a sermon recently which answered this from a different perspective. Basically it was the idea that I expose myself to the full rays of God’s love for me, to deeply understand that, and then I will have such a fullness of resource, being filled with the Love of God for me, that it will spill over and be enough for giving to others needs. I will love because I was first loved, just as in the Bible verse.
This makes sense, and it correlates somewhat with what we know naturally. It is the loved, stable, secure personality that has the most resource to love others properly and in a healthy way. The difference of course being that God makes up the the lack that we might have had when we come to the table.
I do know that much of what constrained me from loving properly in the past situations had much to do with self-preserving fears. We think that we won’t survive other’s demands on us and withdraw. That their requirements for our love and help will drain and destroy us.
I can’t change the past events of what I did or did not do rightly. I can seek to place myself in the outpouring flow of love of others, and try to be more receptive to it. I can seek to become closer to God, the source of all love, and open my heart for what that can accomplish, in me and through me.
Then, I hope my future answer to the question, “Did I do the right thing?” may have a more affirmative answer. Because to love the way Christ loves is always the the right thing.