How To Let Go Of the Guilt and Really Live Again

July 25, 2011 | 31 comments

I lay in bed and stare out the window, sun inching higher over the curve of this spinning world. I feel gray.

It’s time to push back the covers and move. And ordinarily, I would. 

I’m a Jesus-girl, and I want to shine for Him, but the Gray Me lurks in a shadowy crevice of my heart, and when I mess up, she barges in like an elephant in a china shop. Gray Me feeds on guilt, past mistakes, dumb things I’ve done. She feasts on approval desired, but not received.

I replay missteps in my mind and wonder if everyone has seen, after all, what a mess I really am. My cover, blown. This is the fear: That at any moment, people will discover I’m not really who I seem to be.

I lay with the covers under my chin, and let my mind wander over past mistakes. And why are the worst things we do always the most vivid on playback?

Those are the days where I lay in the gray. I want to crawl deeper under the covers, a hiding place. If the bed could swallow me whole, I would let it.

Once, a former editor laughed when told me he didn’t know a person who carried guilt more heavily than I do. And it seemed kind of funny at the time. But it doesn’t feel funny on days like these, when I carry the heavy yoke like a penance.

Eventually, on days like these, I rise from the guilt-heavy cocoon of blankets. I move. I write a few cards to slip in the mail to the grieving widow, the ailing neighbor, the man who lost his job. My gray seems so insignificant, really, when I consider their pain.

I make waffles for girls. I pray.

God and I, we had a long talk about guilt, only I felt like He didn’t have much to say. Maybe that’s because I was doing an awful lot of talking. 

And I know that He he had to be listening. Because two hours later, I’m sitting at the church computer, making Power Points for Sunday worship. And the lyrics I type into the screen start working their way into me, pulsing with truth and pushing out the gray.

I type lyrics, and weep grateful tears. 

“And now, this love of Christ
Shall flow like rivers
So come wash your guilt away
Live again!”

We can let go of the guilt.
We are forgiven.
No mess we make is bigger than the God who willingly took it from us.

Father, I want to live again.

Song: Amazing Love  by Bebo Norman (Email subscribers: Click here to hear the song.)

Linking up with Michelle for her weekly series.

by | July 25, 2011 | 31 comments


  1. kendal

    oh, the gray days. i can relate….and lifted by music? me too.

  2. Beth E.

    On a day when the gray is evident in the skies and in my spirit…your words have ministered to me in a powerful way.

    I’m so glad I stopped by this morning.


  3. Nancy

    “Gray me.” Yep, I know that person well. I once drove past a church with one of those goofy sayings posted out front which read, “God is a much better forgiver than you are a sinner.” I like that.

  4. Megan Willome

    I live with so much guilt that it’s no longer grey. I don’t even notice it enough to be depressed about it. I am responsible for all the ills of the world. The End.

    My husband thinks I’m totally crazy. My son started calling me Crazy Mimi. Can I really argue with them?

  5. Laura

    It’s been too long since I’ve heard this particular song. Music is such a blessing — God uses it to lift my heart, too.

    Something struck me while reading your post. Guilt? It’s not about Him, it’s about us. And when we turn to Him, like you did, we find relief and release. Grace. Blessing.

  6. starla

    I have those gray days too.
    I carry it all heavy too.
    I also make the slides for church worship
    and this past week a song bit caught my attention:

  7. Patti

    Guilt can be a terrible burden, but thank goodness Jesus took it all on the cross. We have been washed clean. Thank you for your insightful writing.

  8. Joyce Lee

    I loved this, Jennifer. You spoke for so many of us.

  9. Erin @ A Full Heart

    Thank you for this post! Guilt can be such a heavy burden – only to be compounded by feeling guilty about the guilt! :-/ It can be crippling… praise the Lord that He has made us a new creation in Christ so we can be freed from it!!

  10. S. Etole

    Funny how we carry what has already been carried for us …

    • Sharon

      That is so good. That’s what Isaiah 53 says. I’ll have to remember this truth nugget.

  11. Lori Ghiglia

    I’ve been a way awhile, Jennifer. But when I come back to read here, I am always blessed – sometimes in unexpected ways. Thanks for being vulnerable. We don’t give ourselves much grace. Thankfully, God gives us so much more than we even realize. It is finished! Amen and Amen.

  12. Linda

    I am made of the same stuff Jennifer. Making mistakes, hurting someone else (however unintentionally) simply incapacitates me. There are nights I can’t sleep for going over the list of past failures.
    But when I think about the love…

  13. laura

    Yes, as these other lovely women have already said–this sounds so familiar. It feels so comfortable here, Jennifer. Your heart gives us free to share these things. That is such a gift and I thank God for you tonight.

  14. Rhonda

    Just discovered your blog this am.
    Waking up with the dark cloud….I have that happen alot. Your post blessed me abundantly.

  15. Sheila Lagrand

    Maybe we could join together and form a world-class Tag Team Guilt-Retaining league.

    It’s such a common thread…maybe especially for us women? Or do men just bury it deeper inside.

    Sometimes I have to get a little mean with myself, scold myself that the burden is not mine to carry. And then I hand it over.

    For a while.

  16. Beth Herring

    oh, have i been there Jennifer. just this morning i had a moment like this and then the LOrd really spoke to my heart and took me back to that 9 year old little girl that gave her heart to Jesus. He revealed HIs love anew to me and showed me that there is NO guilt! And He showed me His incredible mercy all over again.

    love you!

  17. Shannon Knapp

    Your timing is amazing. Just what I needed to hear today! Thank you!

  18. Aimee

    I have also been gray today. Here is a quote I read this evening:

    That when he had failed in his duty, he only confessed his fault, saying to GOD, I shall never do otherwise, if You leave me to myself; ’tis You must hinder my falling, and mend what is amiss. That after this, he gave himself no further uneasiness about it.

    Lawrence, Brother (2010). The Practice of The Presence of God (Kindle Locations 53-54). Unknown. Kindle Edition.

  19. Michelle DeRusha

    Oh I am the Grey Girl more often than I would like to admit. And guilt…so finely woven into the essence of my being. I blame it on the religion of my childhood, quite frankly, but then, that’s probably mostly a weak excuse.

    My counselor used to coach me that guilt was only useful if it was productive guilt: i.e. if it got me thinking about a moral transgression I’d made or something akin to that. But most guilt is useless, unproductive. And worse, it turns us inward, focusing on our own selves and away from God.

    You are right when you feel the grey coming on and the guilt pinning you beneath the covers to talk to God about it, to turn outward toward him. I need to learn to do that, too.

  20. Lynn

    Thank you. I just went through this the other night. Then GOD and I had a two hour conversation (me talking and God listening) about everything I felt. God is so good, he took the burden away and I had a restful nights sleep. (first in a long time)I know I need to start my day with Jesus first and the rest of the day goes better. Wish I could remember to stop holding on to my Guilt more often. Jesus helps!

  21. Nikki B

    Gray girl. I get it, completely. Especially fearing the part where everyone figures out who you really are, or that they will. So hard some days to get out of bed and get going with living, but I keep doing it everyday. I was made for this life and I have to keep reminding myself that God brought me out of that darkness for a reason. Sometimes I just need to remember and recognize his daily Grace in my life.

  22. Wild Optimist

    I happened by via Ann V’s website . . . and I am so right there with y’all, too. Thank you for parsing it out. I hope today is a less gray day for us all 🙂

  23. Alison

    Guilt is a heavy burden, even more so because we are not designed to carry it.

    • Nitpicker

      Guilt has its uses, such as when “lay” is repeatedly used instead of “lie”. God probably doesn’t care, but those of us who care about the English language do. Otherwise, a lovely post.

      • dukeslee

        Yes, so grateful that God doesn’t expect perfection. My apologies for those who come by and don’t receive it. I goofed. It happens. Grateful that I’m loved regardless. Thanks for stopping by.

  24. Scooper

    Oh how I can relate. This is me on so many days. When you wrote about “approval desired but not received,” I thought of a book I’m reading right now. It’s difficult (because it’s so convicting) but very good: When People Are Big and God is Small. And often it’s my own approval of myself that’s the biggest obstacle of all.

    I came over here from Ann Voskamp’s. So glad I did.

    • dukeslee

      Scooper ~ Glad you dropped by. Your book sounds like a good one. For me, approval has been a big problem. Still working through it, day by day …

  25. LisaShaw

    Sister, I had to look again to be sure this wasn’t my personal journey book. You’ve spoken the heart in which I can relate.

    Blessings and love to you.

  26. Judi

    Amen sister!! I think we can all relate, then it comes to pass that God made us and as the saying goes ‘He doesn’t make junk’. The grey has been coming more often lately with the passing of my mother, but we’ll make it through with the help of God.

  27. Kiesha

    It’s been a while since I stopped by. I have been caught up in my grief this last year and I mean CAUGHT in it. I seem to be coming out of the fog and I’m not as angry as I was.

    See I was angry for so long at God. I wanted nothing to do with HIM. I’m ashamed to even write that but it’s the truth. I was angry at Him for ‘taking’ the only and last person on this earth that had shared my childhood, my last connection to my past, my mother.

    It’s like a reawakening, I can feel his presence and the presence of my Mama and I haven’t felt that in a year. I am thrilled and feel as if my soul runneth over.

    Jenn, if I could ask you to pray for my son. He just now seems to be acknowledging his grief. He’s 7 and it breaks my heart as how much pain he is in. Please pray with me that God will comfort him and ease the pain in his heart.
    It’s good to be back, now I have a lot of reading to catch up on.
    Thanks for being the blessing that you are.


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