Thursday, July 14, 2011

jewel and dostoevsky

Last night Tim and I took a trip to Jewel for a few things. We quickly found our orange juice, couldn't find goat milk ( I think we are in the middle of a goat lock-out), and settled for almond milk.

We waited in line at the express self check-out, and walked out the automatic door. In the cart corral we were cut off by a little old lady with a do rag handkerchief on her head, a skirt, and white socks with dark shoes. She looked up at us in surprise, and Tim said "Hi!" She looked frazzled and hurried out with her cart and shopping bag.

As we walked to our car she booked across the parking lot at a suprisingly high speed, which prompted Tim to say, "She's making a break for it!"

We watched this old lady on the run with her cart, wondering if she would be caught, eyes darting from side to side, nervously checking the automatic lock wheel to see if it would stop her run from the law. We passed her on our way out of the parking lot, still trucking her away across it like an wild animal was chasing her.

I kind of wish in hindsight that I had gotten out of the car and asked her if she needed help, or a ride to get home. But I didn't. And I wonder how she and the cart are getting along today.

The old lady reminded me a bit of Raskolnikov from Crime and Punishment. He plotted out his crime so well, he would never be caught. But the guilt of it weighed him down and drove him insane. I read that book my first year at Trinity for Modern European Literature with Dr. Baxter. After class, before soccer practice I would read a couple chapters on my bunk bed, and then fall asleep. I don't think it was eye fatigue or laziness (that happened with other books), that book was laced with so much suffering and guilt it made you feel hopeless, like you were Raskolnikov's accomplice in the pawnbroker's murder. I fell asleep from the mental burden of it all. I like to re-read books, but I don't know that I will re-read that one again any time soon.

Over 4th of July Tim and I saw "Tree of Life" at the movie theater. I don't really want to give away anything about it in case you haven't seen it, but I will say that I loved Malick's portrayal of guilt. In the movie the boy does something he is ashamed of, and as he walks home his mother is standing outside waiting for him. She says nothing, only looks at him. He looks at her and walks to the house. He says he wants to be like his brothers again, to feel innocent. That whole part gave me chills. I know that feeling. I know what it is like to be guilty, and to feel like everyone knows it. To feel alone, and exposed. To feel afraid. To long for innocence.

My favorite song in high school was Switchfoot's "Innocence Again." I wanted to be pure. I wanted to be free from my guilt riddled mind. I was always good at confession and beating myself up over sin, but not so good at accepting grace.

I think there is some grace in guilt itself. If we never felt guilty for stealing grocery carts, harming others, impure thoughts, or disobeying our parents, we would never feel the need for a Savior. We would feel as though we had it together. Feel like we could make it on our own. As people we would hurt each other more than we do now. Guilt keeps us from committing sins that we won't get caught for, because the burden is still there. The punishment is a tormented soul.

But we can't stop there. We aren't meant to live in guilt and self-hatred. God will forgive us and extend His grace to us. He is merciful, and He wants us to be re-born in Him. We cannot earn that forgiveness through self-inflicted brow beating. It's free because of Jesus, because He loves us.

Jesus loves you. And He doesn't want you to carry around your guilt anymore. Drop it at His feet, confess and walk in His love. He wants you to be free from sin, and live in Him.

"And I said: "Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!" Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for." Isaiah 6:5-7


  1. this is so well-written. I wish we lived closer and we could talk guilt and grace and things. my heart's broken and mended like yours and I love it. thanks for writing truth mixed with anecdotes :)

  2. Thanks Karen, I really wish we lived close too! It would be awesome to get coffee with you sometime, I really appreciate your friendship a lot:-) I am so thankful that God has overwhelmed us with His grace.