The Trouble With Guilt

foodThis is not a post about the kind of guilt that we feel when we commit sin.  I would like to post on that sometime…but not today.  Today I want to write about the guilt that we feel because we live in the 21st century, or in America, or in a middle class family, or in a decent house. I felt it when I was in Guatemala, I felt it camping a few weeks ago, I feel it when I read about hardships of centuries past.  When I experience ‘throwback’ moments, I might start to feel guilty that I can take a hot shower every day, or sleep in a supportive bed all night under just the right amount of bedding in just the right room temperature.  I might feel guilty that I have food to eat-lots of it and in large varieties.  I might feel guilty that I can afford a car and gas and time to take a few vacations. clothes-closet I might feel guilty that I have multiple outfits and a way to wash them in a machine that requires absolutely no effort on my part.  In addition to this, I can set timers to cook, water the yard, and wash the dishes-all in my absence.  I can turn on a tap and drink the running water right from my own kitchen sink…or bathroom sink…or garage sink.  Multiple sinks in one house all with sanitized, running water.  I can flush my waste directly into a completely enclosed city sanitation system.  I don’t have to go to bed when the sun goes down because I have cheap artificial lighting that allows me to stay up and continue my day as long as I would like to.  I can instant message friends and family on wireless technology or I can get instant access to just about any information that I could possibly want. I can fire off a blog post right now and it can be read by people from all over the world!   On top of all of this, I have a knowledge of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I can make saving covenants with my Father that will position me to be protected in the coming onslaught. If I put myself up against my fellow Earthians past and present,  I could easily fall prey to a guilt cycle that dead ends at the question:

“Why me and NOT them?”  435743045_640

Why do I have so many of the privileges of the 21st century while lots of other folks-just as good as me-wallow in poverty or third-world conditions or without the knowledge of the Truth?

This kind of guilt is not easily assuaged without some Gospel understanding

  and the underlying principle is this:


the privileges that I enjoy do not come without a price tag.

thFor of him unto whom much is given much is required;

and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.

 (Doctrine and Covenants 82:3)

All of a sudden, my guilt has a place to pull me-into gratitude and then into action. (But I have another post to write about being guilted into gratitude…it’s not a very high level of gratitude, is it?) According to the principle taught above, I will be held responsible for what I did with the time that all of these modern-day conveniences allowed me, all of the energy that they saved me, the health that they promoted, the opportunities they generated.  Yes, I may enjoy many privileges but I can’t stop there;  I am under Godly mandate to figure out what He needs me to do with the extra time, energy, emotions, health, and money that flow as a result of His blessings. What is required?  Where does He need me today?  Who is my brother?  What am I doing with my time?  With what I have and what I know, how can I build the Kingdom?  Am I actually pausing to enjoy the blessings in my life? I have responsibility to the Giver of my blessings.   I have found that this is not as easy as it sounds.  Being immersed in blessings, I grow accustomed to it.  Now they are not really blessings, they are must-haves, givens, assumptions and I need ADDITIONAL blessings to recognize that I am being blessed.  For me, it takes words like “require” (or trips to Guatemala or to the ER or to a funeral) to kick me out of my ridiculous orbit and remember that God is boosting me up in great hopes that I am going to help Him out. I am not here on Planet Earth to take as many hot showers as possible; I am here to find my way back to my Father and to take as many of His children with me as I can.


Now that job is going to take some time and energy and emotion and….thank goodness for washing machines….

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