Guilt: a bad feeling caused by knowing or thinking that you have done something wrong. (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)
Guilt is a tricky feeling, isn’t it? I know there are things that I should feel guilty about and then there are other things I feel guilty about and really shouldn’t at all. Anyone who frequents this space knows that I am the daughter of a woman who daily lives with a mental illness. About a year ago, we started to also see signs of dementia. Mom had been doing really well, but then about a month ago or so, she started to cycle again. I often feel guilty about being mom’s legal guardian and speaking our truth.
I love my mom more than anything, but it is so hard to know what I will get when I call her so the guilt often creeps in before I know it. Yesterday I finally mustered up the courage to call Mom. It had been several weeks since I had last spoken to her. The phone call was full of lots of tears. I was present with her, but also found myself fighting back the tears myself. I never thought that this was would be our story, but that is exactly what our story is.
Yet in the midst of my own guilt, God has had this amazing way of reminding me that I am never on this journey alone. I have people who will pray with and for me across the world. I have friends who I have, no doubt, would let me cry on their shoulders or even run away and show up on their doorstops. Some days, running away for some Sabbath and respite seems like the only answer.
It is almost ironic how my parents and others told me to never meet someone I have met on the world wide web. Yet those relationships and those meetups are some of the most amazing and blessed friendships in my life. In fact, it often blows my mind how many people God has connected me to through the world wide web. Just yesterday, I got a message from someone and within moments, we realized our stories were meant to be connected. And then there are the stories of people I have been connected to and later found out they or family members struggle with mental health issues as well. Each link is connected in so many and various ways.
I know that I can turn to these individuals; these friends especially when it feels like I am drowning in the guilt and fear of our journey. Last night, one of my dear friends tweeted to me “No judgement on reality. Reality just is.” And another friend tweeted “No guilt. Share your truths.” No guilt….I had to sit in those words for a few minutes. Because my friends are so wise and so right, yet it is so hard not to feel guilty especially when I know there are others who are struggling along with us and others who are struggling even more than we are.
But the reality, my reality, is that this journey is hellish and overwhelmingly spiritually, physically and emotionally exhausting. It is full of so much pain and guilt and heartbreak. Yet it is also full of love, and grace and hope! I am thankful for our God who sits with us in the muck and mire and promises never to leave us or forsake us.
Because it is in the knowing that I am not alone, that makes this journey, at least most days, bearable!