Guilt and sorrow

I’ve been dealing with some very serious guilt issues these past few days. I’m trying to understand what the Lord is telling me. The best way for me to do that is to write out what I’m feeling and explain myself on “paper” – so to speak.

A long time ago, I was married to a young man. We had three children together. We also shared some very hard years together. He wrestled with many addictions. He battled depression. Ultimately I chose to leave that man. His addictions and self-destructive behavior lashed out at me and the children and I simply could not raise them in that environment. As a woman, I was crushed by his unfaithfulness and the abuse I suffered. As a Christian, I struggled to forgive and I’ve been tormented by guilt.

We recently discovered that the young man I married so long ago died from an overdose. Whether or not it was intentional is not yet known to me.

The guilt, anger, sadness and all the terrible feelings I’ve struggled to put away are now rising up again with a vengeance. There are questions that will never be answered in this life. There are feelings that can’t be put to rest peacefully. There is so much left unsaid. So many things I said in anger, I wish I could ask for forgiveness from that person.

Yes, I was wronged. I was betrayed and hurt terribly. But I believe that person that hurt me was suffering too. But I was too young and inexperienced to recognize that hurt and offer peace and comfort. I think I will always be sad when I think of those years lost.

I’ve been so blessed to be married to a wonderful man for the last five years. He’s been an amazing father to my children. He’s been such a wonderful husband to me. He’s taken care of us and healed so many hurts. I know God sent him just for me and I’m overwhelmed with love, both for my husband and for the Father who knew what I needed to be restored. God is unimaginably good to His children.

Even though I am completely loved, since I have learned of my ex-husband’s death I am wrestling with guilt and sadness.

I believe I may have come to an important realization this morning. Guilt can be a useful tool of the Holy Spirit to convict us when we are sinning. That guilt can cause us to repent and turn away from that sin. That kind of guilt is good.

But that useful tool can be twisted into a weapon. When the guilt overwhelms us and causes us to dwell on our past sins, it is no longer a tool used for good. I believe that kind of guilt is an attack. It is an evil whisper in our hearts that says, “You can’t be good enough. Look what you did. You can never be forgiven.”

That’s a lie. We are forgiven, completely. We only need to ask God and He is so quick to pour out His love and forgiveness. And as I pray for God to heal my hurts and ease my guilt, I’m praying for the young man I married a long time ago. I’m praying for his family.

God can work sorrow into joy. His Word tells us this is true.

 “… and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
       to bestow on them a crown of beauty
       instead of ashes,
       the oil of gladness
       instead of mourning,
       and a garment of praise
       instead of a spirit of despair.
       They will be called oaks of righteousness,
       a planting of the LORD
       for the display of his splendor.”

Isaiah 61:3 (New International Version)

I praise God for the beauty He gives us in the midst of ashes.

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Scriptures to help with sibling bickering

For the past month it seems our three children have fallen into a very bad habit of griping, nit-picking and generally speaking to each other in very rude ways. It has become an almost daily occurance for one, two or all three of them to be in serious trouble for the way they have chosen to speak to their brother or sister. Last night was the last straw. I had told all three of the children to work together as a team to wash and put away the dinner dishes. I told them I did not want to hear any arguing.

Unfortunately, five minutes into the task, my son was heard grumbling under his breath rather rudely to his older sister who was trying to explain to him that he had not fully washed a dish and it needed to go back into the dish water.

After sending him to his room, along with grounding him from his PSP privilages for a week, I turned to a Google search to help find some scriptures that could better illustrate how wrong it is to constantly tear each other down with words spoken in anger. I know this is a common problem for many families, so I thought it would be helpful to share the ones we’ve decided to use in our home:

Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret it leads only to the evil (Ps. 37:8)

A wise man fears for the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hot headed and reckless. A quick-tempered man does foolish things, and a crafty man is hated (Pr 14:16-17)

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control (Pr. 29:11)

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger (Pr. 15:1)

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. (Pr. 21:23)

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out (Pr. 17:14)

It is to a man’s honor to avoid strife, but every fool is quick to quarrel (Pr. 20:3)

Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful (2 Tim. 2:23-24)

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Eph. 4:31)

Do everything without complaining or arguing (Ph. 2:14)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” which is the first commandment with a promise “that it may go well with your and that you may enjoy long life on the earth (Eph. 6:1-3)

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord (Col. 3:20)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it (Heb. 12:11)

My son and I discussed these verses and we talked about what it means to be pleasing to God and how important it is to be very careful with the way we speak to each other. It is a hard lesson to learn – not just for a child, but for anyone. Today during our lessons we talked as a family about these scriptures and we assigned Proverbs 21:23 “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” as our memory verse for the week. My children have a weekly verse to memorize by Friday or they will not be able to play on the computer or the Wii on Saturday. In addition to his grounding, my son will have to choose three of the above listed verses to memorize as well.

Of course, after laying out the punishment and the tears from my son, I myself cried. Parenting is not for the faint-hearted, and as a “weaker vessel” I do tend to leak quite often around the eyes. But I am praying these verses will take seed in my children’s hearts (and my own) and help us to cultivate a more pleasant way of speaking to each other.

UPDATE:

When we started this blog in 2010, we had three children.

Since that time we have had THREE MORE CHILDREN. We would love for you to visit us at www.coersfamily.com to see how we’ve grown.

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