In general, I’m obedient. A rule-follower. And sometimes that makes me extra cautious. For the longest time, I’ve dealt with anxiety about the way I should be living my life. Why have I been so anxious?
Christian guilt. (At least, that’s part of the reason. The rest is probably just me.)
Let me clarify, I don’t mean the guilt that comes from conviction from God. What I’m talking about are the expectations that I felt were placed on me by Christian culture. Those were weighing me down.
As I was growing up, I loved reading books about Christian dating, listening to modesty talks, and traveling to Christian conferences. Though this left me with a heart that genuinely wanted to please God, it also left me searching for what God wanted.
What I found were all kinds of opinions. Because I wanted to please God so badly, I generally took the more conservative advice.
Don’t wear a bikini. Don’t say that word. Don’t listen to that music. Don’t wear that skirt or that shirt. If you’re alone with a boy you’re dating, it will probably lead to sex.
I guess I thought God was conservative.
At some point, I noticed all of the pressure I had put on myself to follow the words God had given to other people. I wanted to wear a bikini because it was more comfortable and they’re just easier to find in stores. I wanted to cuss because sometimes life gives you situations that beg for those words.
And I was sick of being overly concerned that I was going to tempt someone by being immodest- I wanted to be comfortable and express myself in my clothing the way I wanted to.
But I didn’t dare act on those desires, and if I did decide to do those things, I was timid in my decision and felt a twinge of guilt in my gut.
And for what? Because someone else following God said they didn’t. So I shouldn’t either.
I don’t need to feel guilty for making different decisions in the ways that I follow God.
I cuss sometimes, dammit. I wear bikinis, spaghetti straps, and shorts shorter than bermuda shorts. And sometimes I even wear leggings as pants. And I follow Jesus.
I’ve realized that God puts us all in different situations and leads us on different paths to follow Him. In the Bible, there were so many people that He put in different situations, so for each person to follow Him looked different.
If I really believed that, it didn’t make sense anymore to follow some of the rules I had believed in just because someone told me to. I needed to figure it out for myself.
I started searching for what God wanted for me, Audrey, and what was truest to who He’s made me to be right now.
I was officially done with Christian guilt.
Being done with Christian guilt hasn’t come instantaneously. But God and I are working on it because I believe that He hasn’t liked the burden I’ve carried and I haven’t either. I’m sure some of you are in the same place I’ve been.
And to you, I would say this- let’s work to let our behavior be determined by our own beliefs, our own hearts, and our own walks with God.
Basically, I’m suggesting that you think about the reasons behind your behavior, particularly towards sensitive topics in the Christian world.
Modesty. Curse words. Boundaries. Sex. Alcohol. There are all kinds of hard issues in life. Search your own heart and talk to God about what unnecessary guilt you’ve been carrying.
So, what do you think? Is Christian guilt a real thing?