Homegrown Guilt

Guilt disturbs rest.

Sometimes that’s good.

Sometimes it’s not.

When guilt is heaven-sent and we recognize our sin, name it, confess it and free fall into the outstretched arms seated at the Throne of Grace, rest is restored. The discord deep within disappears, the sky grows bright, the burdened heart is free to sing again.

When guilt is homegrown, it causes the soul to ride on choppy seas. Dark clouds loom large on the horizon with no end in sight.

This kind of guilt comes in four flavors.

  • Self-induced

  • Expectations of others

  • Perceived expectations of others

  • Cultural conformity

Our son, Sam, graduated from high school this past Sunday. It’s our family’s first such milestone celebration. We celebrated and are celebrating—uniquely. The cultural standard, however, is to throw a large party. Because of many things, we did not choose to go that direction.

This week, I am finding my homegrown guilt over this issue is causing unrest.

I am unsettled. I am questioning our decision, my motives. It’s all a tangled mess right now.

It is not the major life-issue I am facing this week. It’s one of many, but it is tugging at my soul.

This weekend I will be on retreat once again, in some creative fashion. It’s a defensive retreat. The need is evident and the desire is very real. It will likely only be a few hours long, but my hungry heart is counting down.

Cultural conformity. There are many issues that bombard us. As Christ Followers there are many things we choose to steer clear of. But there are many issues that are not clear cut.

Like—a graduation party. 

This event and all it entails does not take place in a vacuum. It involves a host of factors, situations, limits, resource considerations, time, energy, exhaustion, overload.

When we don’t engage in the norm, when we swim up stream, be it against an American cultural norm (like a graduation party) or church-life norm (like helping with VBS), home-grown guilt can nag or pound.

My heart needs a sit down with God on this issue of homegrown guilt over cultural conformity. I think it will include things like reception to the Holy Spirit, resolve, humility and courage. It will be a journey.

Question for you.

What brings rest to your soul when homegrown guilt nags, pounces or pounds?

How does homegrown guilt effect your rest? Your unrest? The rest of your family?

  • Exciting note! Feedback from the first 12-weeks of posts has been strong and encouraging. Because of this, it’s being compiled into an e-book, a free resource for current and new subscribers. It will be available this summer (and after) during a relaunch of the blog and will include reflection questions for personal and small group use. I pray it will be a valuable tool and vehicle of growth in the lives of many. Hold this project up in prayer. Until this relaunch, I will be posting previously written articles more often then offering new thoughts and insights. Blessings!

Is This Your First Time Here?


Run hard. Rest well. launched in March 2013. If this topic grabs your heart, we’d like to encourage you to subscribe to this weekly blog. The information to do so is located on the right hand side of this page. Along the way, we’ve encouraged folks to read the first 12-weeks of posts found in the archives. (But no rush. Go slow.) Start with Week 1. Each post is numbered and lays an important foundational insight into the life-giving rhythm Run hard. Rest well.

  • The site is under construction for a few weeks right now to compile the e-book, re-vamp the site and prepare to launch out into a broader spectrum of people. During this time I am going to send out links to articles I’ve written for various Christianity Today print and on-line publications over the last few years. With their permission (and handy links), I pray these articles bless and encourage.

run hard. rest well.


First time here?

3 thoughts on “Homegrown Guilt”

  1. I needed to read this post. I had a serious panic attack on Monday after Bible study….did I say something wrong? Did I talk too much? Death hovered close again. I’m a bad person. I’m not fit for this life. Doubt you have those attacks but they are real. Meds and a talk with the nurse line helped. I know that life was not made to go it alone. I will be traveling and there are health concerns to consider. I will be visiting with my sister who is not a Christian. There are spiritual concerns there. I believe this to be a God thing, but so far beyond my ability to handle. God does that! He gets us out of our comfort zone so we can fall on Him. My sister has expectations. I’m a down home person. It will be hard trying to please. I praise God that He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. I may come back broken, but my God will put me back together through the family of God. Rest well. Many people wish they were as brave as you are to go against the norm. May we all go against the norm!

  2. I skimmed the note about the e-books being launched into bible studies/small group studies. I’d LOVE to get my hands on that and use it as a resource for a new small group I’m hoping to lead! Praying for the process

    • Christa!
      Thank you for your excitement. We are all ambassadors. We have the Word on rest. It is a life giving word. It causes weary hearts to dance. We must lead the way.
      Onward dear friend!


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