It was about six months after Justin's death. I began to wonder what happened to bring us to this dreaded day. I pushed through grief, looking back for answers. I found a string of highlights where the results of my actions seemed to lead Justin through doors which made things worse. As I pondered over each equally pivotal moment in his young life, the doorway to guilt in my life opened. The most disturbing highlight was one of the last decisions I made that resulted in him being sent home in a body bag. It was I who decided to call the police and beg for Justin to be taken off the streets and into the judicial system. Over all of the past years' of my error decisions, it seemed that this one, this huge decision I made, started the journey to his death. I now recognize that the family was hurting, but at the time when some began accusing me, I could only feel my pain. Most did not say anything but fault was in the air. Out of grief, one family member said what was in her heart and it confirmed what I believed the rest of the family felt, I was the blame!
"It's your fault Justin is dead! You killed him! What mother calls the police on their child!" They said, "What you did was stupid! You killed Justin!"
For years after those words were spoken, I lived in silent torment. Sometimes I'd hear Justin's voice whispering over and over with such desperation. "Ma, get me out of here, you gotta, you gotta get me out of here!" and then on other occasions I'd hear the voice of my family member saying, "It's all your fault, you killed Justin." As Christians we stand on the power of knowing and walking God's word. What I found in this real life situation is, although I had lived through things that helped to put God's word in action, nothing challenged me like the lost of my son. My faith was shaken in a way I cannot describe. Twenty two years spent studying God's word was now being scrutinized. All those years spent disciplining my mind to approach life from a positive perspective, was slowly crumbling around me. The journey ahead, would be spent in a fight for my life and my faith. It was a fight I would have to learn to win.
Guilt is a very powerful, extremely ugly emotion. Guilt quickly grips and controls your life, forcing you to look at your errors and mistakes as though your intentions are premeditated. Guilt places blame, convincing you that you were not responsible enough to protect your loved one from their situation. "It is all my fault" becomes your bottom line as you look back over life's calamities. In hindsight, you see facts that leave you convinced, that what has come to light, was always there, and guilt say's, "you should have seen it coming, you should have known it." Webster's Dictionary gives the definition of guilt as: a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined. I don't know if you can pinpoint when guilt crept into your life but I know for me, it was at Justin's death that guilt blamed me for every single wrong thing that I felt happened leading up to his death. After his death I fell deep into the "would of, could of, and should of trap."
The guilt trip tried to hold me hostage to every parental decision I had made in his life. It convinced me that it was my position as his mom to protect him and I didn't. Surely there was something more I could have done and I didn't. At the end of the day, guilt had convinced me that I was the one who had him arrested, therefore I caused his death. Before it was all over, I felt worthless and alone, totally condemned with no way out of condemnation. How do you break a cycle that subtly and subconsciously is promoting your doom? I had even stopped going to Church because each word spoken seemed to add more sorrow. Although I went through a season of anger towards God, I knew enough to know that I needed to seek God for the answers. So I was forced to lay down my anger towards Him. Thereafter my prayer life picked up and my fervent cries connected to God and in time the "guilt blinders" were removed. Hidden behind the dark shadow of guilt in my heart was the TRUTH, waiting to be set free. There was a truth of the matter that guilt blocked me from seeing. I don't quite remember all of what happened or when my mind began to reach for the truth, it just seemed that one day the truth peaked out.
Truth uncovered what I knew from the VERY beginning: I LOVE my son with all my heart and would have never consciously done anything to bring harm on him. I had Justin arrested because I was desperate to get him the help he needed before he hurt himself or someone else. I reasoned, "if I could not afford it, that the system would make it happen for us." (Justin's Story) Every parental decision I made in his life was made to lead him away from danger and more pain and frustration. That's my TRUTH! Thank you Lord, that truth rose out of the lies of guilt. "Bad things do happen to good people," no matter how hard we try to make life right, there will be sad, uncontrollable circumstances that will arise. Challenges, that make living difficult and bring us to our knees, those are the real facts. Without a mess, there can be no message... without a test there can be no testimony. I have read this scripture and have known it my whole Christian life but never have I known its power like I do today; "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Romans 8:1. God said to me, "It is not me who condemns you." You see, God loves us and is always working to bring us His peace. Yes if we feel as though we have committed a wrong, God's love will guide us to lay that heavy weight before Him. Lay it there and leave it there. We must focus on God's love for us, which encourages us to capitalize on the most important facts concerning the situation. If there is some action I feel as though I may have done wrong or could have done differently, I simply accept the fact that God allowed me, (possibly in my ignorance) to fall into it, and that He will use that "fall" as a teaching tool to help someone else grow through their situation. Love covers a multitude of sin, guilt, in this case being the sin. Guilt is not an uncommon emotion. If you are feeling guilty for whatever reasons, you should know that only people who have feelings can feel guilt.
Only people who have a caring, compassionate and thoughtful heart for others are attacked by guilt. Remember, you are very special to God and He has a purpose and a plan for everyone's life. Our life is lived in seasons. There is a season for this and a season for that. A season to grow and mature past the negative mindset of guilt. If God allows us to go through trying and troubling times in our lives, I believe it is so that our "growth steps" through the struggle can be a blessing to someone else. After it is all said and done, it is about us letting our light shine before others, so that others will see it and glorify our Father in Heaven. Mathew 5:16 From this day forward, you determine yourself... "Guilt you lose over my life! I will not submit to your lies any longer, I've decided to pick up my faith and God's grace and move forward with my life." My dear friend, only YOU can say when enough is enough! I hope that this helps restore your joy and renew your outlook on life so that you can LIVE your best life.