Probably the biggest struggle I have had this Lent is accepting God's love and mercy. Outwardly I can say, "yeah, I accept God's love. I accept God's mercy." But if the worm crawled within, deep within and saw the core of me, I feel guilty. Guilty and angry. Those are not emotions that line up with accepting God's love and mercy.
I know my spiritual director, and my counselor would both say "don't." And I would agree with them. I shouldn't feel guilty. I need to let the anger go. I am mainly angry at myself for the mistakes I made, for how naive I was. That anger is misplaced. I need to forgive myself for my mistakes. The guilt is misplaced also. I did no intentional harm.
So, Palm Sunday I dug deeper. Why? Why do I feel guilty? The reason is illusive. It floats in and out of my brain. But this is the way it seems at the moment to me--I have been self-reliant, responsible, dependable, in-charge most of my life. This comes from being an oldest child and from being in a marriage without a helpmate or partner I could really count on. The only way I was "safe" or "taken care of" was if I could do it myself. Other people let me down. Other people criticized me. Other people blamed me if things didn't go right.
There is nothing wrong with being capable, responsible, self-reliant. Nothing at all, except that in my case, I think, God became like extra insurance, like icing on the cake, not the main deal. I didn't trust God, not really. I was amazed when I saw God's miracles in my life. I really was and am. But, deep in my heart, I didn't and don't trust God's kindness. I messed up, made some big mistakes and I am used to being blamed and criticized and punished when I am not perfect.
So, I prayed and wept as I came to see this thing more clearly. I know with all my head that God is full of kindness and not to be outdone in mercy. I know. I want to accept that mercy and feel it. That is what I am working on in the short days left of Lent, the 50 days of Easter and the rest of my life.