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Dear God,

It’s been a while since I wrote.

Thing is, I felt like I couldn’t reach you. Maybe it was the Church that did it. With its zealous campaign to remind us that we are flawed human beings, it overshot its target and made us believe that we were completely hopeless. Some of us, who already had a good sense of our depravity, became convinced that as fallen beings we had no access to you, no place by your side and really, no place even on this Earth. Instead of being empowered we were weakened. At some point we forgot that we were created in your image, and that you created us good.

We began spending many hours of each day in ritual self-flagellation. We beat ourselves up over not being good enough parents, bad church goers, non-tithers, immoral, apathetic, un-praying and uninvolved. Not only could be not talk to you, because, after all, we hadn’t read the Bible in so many days, weeks, months, but we weren’t good enough to go to church either. We had to take action in order to at least somehow justify our existence. So we wrote to-do lists, pushed ourselves to the limit, put ourselves down and promised to do better. This all must have looked ridiculous to you.

Or maybe it was our society. Goodness, what a bunch of health-conscious, environmentally aware confused individuals we are. The world told us to eat better, to drive less, to care for the minorities among us, and instead of joyfully taking it on, we were consumed with guilt – for eating sweets, throwing away plastic cans, driving instead of biking to work, using non-biodegradable materials. There was no joy in anything we did. We were only desperately, without any real hope, trying to make this world a little bit less of a horrible place to live. And us – just a rung higher up on the unending ladder of guilt and social responsibility.

This was your enemy’s work. He took all of the good that might have been intended, and deranged it. The father of lies had prevailed, if only temporarily, at his best craft. We came to believe, I believed, that we had to earn our place; that we had to deserve it. This was impossible, and we floundered around helplessly. This is why I hadn’t written.

But lately I noticed that this idea doesn’t quite jive with what you teach. In fact, it renders the death and resurrection of your Son completely absurd.

So I just wanted to drop you a line, let you know things are getting better. I am allowing myself the joy of not thinking about guilt. You thought of that already. Funny that it took me only 20 years of faith in you to realize this. But that’s OK too. You’re probably smiling right now, maybe even rolling your eyes a bit. But hey, better late than never, and in the grand scheme of things – it’s not late at all.

It’s the perfect time to be finding the child you love.

Wondering why it’s prevalent in our society. Look – I am sick and my boss literally ORDERED me to stay home, and I am feeling guilty that I took the kids to their preschool. I feel guilty when I’m online and not working, guilty when I am working and not cleaning, guilty when I am cleaning and not spending time with the kids, guilty when I am spending time with the kids and secretly wishing they were asleep.

And then sad when they do fall asleep.

Freely you have received, freely you should give. Why is this so difficult to grasp? Notice, it’s harder to receive than to give. I think that if I or anyone else has issues with feeling guilty about everything they do or do not do, there is something about forgiveness and salvation they are not understanding.

Granted, having gone through every welfare program out there (I admit), it has become easier to receive. At first there was shame that I was there, the word “social worker” somehow never managed to leave my mouth without a cough…then it was annoying, then just business as usual. But always humbling. I have learned to receive surprise gifts from friends, unexpected road tolls paid by kind strangers, lunch covered by coworkers when my credit card was not working…Praise God, through all of these kindnesses and more (unexpected bonus that bought us food, a long-lost check coming in right when the power was about to be turned off, a huge debt – forgiven) He gave freely. And we received.

Then why does that feeling that you should be doing something else, something bigger, better, kinder…why does it persist?

And where does it come from?

This feeling strives to render the gift of freedom useless. But having understood, at least somewhat, now I chose to accept it, again. Now I am free. I should just live accordingly.

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