Oh, The Guilt

Today’s Scripture in The Word In Season, which is a little book the church has laying around in the meeting area for people to take, is Psalm 25:11, “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great”, and the writing on that is a reminder that Lutherans don’t earn forgiveness by being good people – we receive it through faith alone. This is a concept that I need to be reminded of constantly because I am programmed – whether by nature or nurture is beside the point – to be guilty and feel it with crippling effects.

My general being is shot through with negativity, though I do try to put a positive spin on things. I am a vocal champion of cynicism – as Diogenes defined it: separating yourself psychologically from a system so you can see that system as it really is, without bias. Cynicism is usually associated with having a bad outlook because when one starts to see things as they are, the first thing one sees is how fuct up everything is. Ain’t nobody wants to hear about how fuct up everything is, so most people just don’t listen. Not because they don’t agree that everything is fuct up, but because they’ve found a way of dealing with it that usually involves abdicating responsibility and they don’t enjoy having that pointed out. So, when some cynic comes along and starts talking about brown children locked in cages down along the southern border, they say “Well, that’s terrible, but I can’t do anything about it”. Fact is, they could, but it would interfere with their routine, so they don’t.

My routine involves knowing about how fuct up everything is and being unable to abdicate and being overwhelmed with guilt about it. I know, and can’t look away from, that I have some part in how fuct up everything is and I have very limited power to affect any change. My attempts to recruit other people to fight the good fights generally fail because A) other people don’t want to be bothered, and B) I can see the flaws in other people’s attempts. There’s a recycling program at work that I try to play along with, but I can’t really get on board because it’s screaming obvious to me that our petty little recycling program is spit in the ocean. That’s a big problem I have – I can see the failure of a policy from the word “Go”.

Back to Psalm 25:11. All the guilt is the result of failing to remember that I can’t do it anyway. Something in me is saying I’m responsible and I’m not fulfilling my obligation to fix shit. I’m not gonna argue with that something. Arguing with my own inner workings hain’t done me a lick of good ever. What has done me any good whatsoever is doing what I can do and then stopping. It’s important to know when to stop.

And it’s important for me to remember that no matter what I do, it won’t be enough and I’m not obliged to do enough. I am only tasked to do what I can. More than that is impossible and trying to do the impossible is hubris.

So it is no failure to stop. It is a successful admission of my own weakness. God knows I can’t do better than I can and She don’t ask me to.

Today, I patched rat holes, did a project for class and tried to remember that God is in charge, not me. That’s success.

And that’s why the church has The Word in Season and Christ in Our Home out in the meeting area for people to take. These little meditations have the power to make us see and understand little bits of the Bible, one day at a time. And that matters.

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