When you make a resolution you can’t keep, you’re left with one thing: guilt. This is the reason I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.
There’s nothing worse than setting yourself up for failure and then chewing on the guilt of good intentions. Sure, I’ll give something up or take something on during Lent, the 40-day season that precedes Easter, as a spiritual discipline, but for a number of years I’ve resolved to not make resolutions in the aftermath of a new calendar year. And I’ve kept this resolution with resounding success….
In order to avoid religious guilt, people cook up all sorts of excuses. But:
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to church or that the notion of being “spiritual but not religious” is anything but an easy way out. At their best, faith communities provide accountability along with inspiration and invitation. It’s a lot easier to worship together than it is in isolation and Jesus himself, after all, invited a community of disciples to share in his earthly journey. He wasn’t a lone ranger going it alone but formed a group of people passionate about being drawn ever closer to God.
One of my mother’s mantras has always been “I don’t do guilt.” For years I thought she meant she didn’t lay guilt trips on others. But I recently found out that she meant “I don’t accept guilt heaped on me by others” (yes, a Freudian therapist could have a field day with this). But while guilt is part of the human condition and unavoidable in certain situations, it is important to recognize it for what it is and what it is not. Guilt is a human response to a perceived short-coming. It should not be confused with sin which is a barrier to relationship with God. But guilt itself is not from God; rather it is a self-imposed condition.