Do you carry guilt about the things you’re not doing that you should be or about the things you are doing that you shouldn’t be?

I carry guilt.

And, the guilt I carry might as well carry me at times.

Because, there are days when it lifts my feet off of the floor and sends me in a direction I didn’t intend to go in.

It gets me grieved that I’m not the best version of myself, that I’m not the best me I know I can be. It tells me I’m not the best mom or the best wife or the best friend or the best daughter.

I find myself luggin’ around this unfriendly companion for a number of reasons.

I feel guilty because I’m not as productive as I want to be with my work.

Like, I’ve spent hours watching webinars and reading blog posts about growing my business instead of actually growing my business. Like, I didn’t focus enough time on the revenue generating activities. Like, I didn’t do the job I gave myself.

I feel guilty because I’m not as present as I want to be with my husband and daughter or because I’m not giving them enough.

Like, I’ve extended and over-extended Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood time on Netflix. Like, my daughter’s Montessori-inspired room looks like another Pinterest fail. Like, I got dressed up nicely and did my makeup for my hubby, but by the time he got off of work I looked like I’d been wrestling a calf.

I feel guilty because the inside of my microwave looks like a leftovers bomb exploded in it.

Because, it did. And, it’s looked that way for over a month. So then I just leave things uncovered and it keeps gettin’ bombed. “Clean the microwave” is on my elaborate cleaning schedule, but it gets bypassed again and again. So, I feel guilty.

I feel guilty for my second helpings, for the absence of exercise in my days, for the lack of ticks on my to-do list.

I feel guilty for not praying enough, reading my bible enough, and worshipping enough.

The guilt I carry might as well carry me, at times, unless I figure out why I carry it and how to let it go.

I carry guilt because I’ve set a standard or a rule for myself that I’ve either broken or not lived up to. And, sometimes those standards are based on other people. Sometimes, the rule is bad.

 Sometimes, the standard is set by God. And, sometimes the rule is good.

God’s built guilt into my nature so that I understand the knowledge of right and wrong. But, He’s given me Jesus who takes that guilt away.

Trouble is…sometimes I don’t know if the bad feeling is trying to steer me to the goodness of God or if it’s just a pressure I feel to conform to someone else’s standards or my high ones.

Because, I should know that the only thing I need to conform to is the person of Jesus and the word of God.

Guilt is a grace that should lead me to His feet not cause me to tread heavier, because at His feet the guilt dissipates. At His feet, I can ask forgiveness, let go, gain freedom, and become more like Him.

But, the guilt that comes from not living up to other people’s standards? I have to speak some truth to that guilt.

And the truth sounds similar whether I say it or you say it (because you know you’ve gotten bent out of shape over the inside of your microwave, too—especially if someone (gasp) sees it).

A woman that stops carrying guilt and stops trying to live up to others’ standards—or the tough ones she sets for herself—she looks like this:

She knows that she is a good mother not because of the condition of the inside of her microwave, but because of the condition of her child’s heart. She knows that she is a good wife not because she immediately cleans up leftover bombs in the microwave, but because she readily loves and respects her husband.

She knows that she is a good business woman not because of the lack of revenue generating activity she spends her time on, but because of the impact she is making. The revenue will come—she knows it will.

She knows that the second helping she scoops onto her plate doesn’t mean she’s less. She doesn’t weigh less and so she feels less, but this woman knows that each day she is doing better. She will fight to choose better tomorrow and the next day and the next. But, she will give herself grace on the days she needs just a little more.

The woman that lets go of the guilt of not measuring up to her standards or others’ standards, she knows that when she lets go, the weight drops off of others, too.

Because as she opens up her microwave to reveal the mess inside, others breathe a sigh of relief and gain freedom as they say, “mine looks like that, too!”

Then, we can join hands and declare, “let’s clean them together, today!” And in one day, not just one, but countless microwaves will be cleaned 😉

Holly Mthethwa

Holly Mthethwa is the author of the Christian memoir "Hot Chocolate in June: A True Story of Loss, Love, and Restoration." She hails from the small, Midwestern town of Cozad, Nebraska, but currently resides just outside of Washington, D.C., where she lives an adventure with her husband and daugther. Holly writes regularly about faith, family, and the moments that fish-hook her heart at