Burden of Guilt

Continuing series on blogging through Max Lucado’s “Traveling Light” – Chapter Eight: The Heavenly Exchange – The Burden of Guilt.

He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name sake. – Psalm 23:3 NKJV

So admittedly I will tell you that I struggled with this chapter more than any other.  In some ways I agree with the author that guilt can plaque you and stifle you to a point where you cannot function. However the parts about righteousness, well I have to say that ruffled my feathers a bit.

Throughout this whole chapter the word righteous or righteousness came up so many times I began to feel guilty about my position on this. So in saying that I will move on and talk about how guilt can take a grieving person by the neck and can keep a firm grip on them for as long as that person will let it.

Guilt comes in so many ways. In grief, guilt often comes to the griever because they may have what they call survivor’s guilt. The kind of guilt that one might experience if they lived, but the other one died. Survivor’s guilt can keep a person from moving forward because their thoughts can be consumed with “why me” “why didn’t I die and they live” – believe me it happens. It’s real to them.

For me guilt came with a couple of different faces. At one time I felt guilty because perhaps I hadn’t done enough to take care of my daughter. I didn’t insist on better care. I should’ve kept calling the doctors and demanding better care. But I didn’t. At least I didn’t feel like I had. And I’ll forget Brittany’s PICU nurse that night, Jennifer was her name, she was at my side when I was sobbing over my daughter’s dead body and I said “I’m so sorry Brittany, I should have fought harder, I should’ve yelled louder and Jennifer said to me: Malissa you did all and more than most parents they’d seen for their children. You see Brittany had been a regular at Devos Children’s Hospital over the years.

She had many friends who had taken care of her over the years there. In fact, the ER staff had come up in the middle of the night to see how she was doing. And much to the dismay of their hopes – they saw a picture that no one had anticipated – she was failing. She was slowly slipping away from us and no one – not one doctor knew why.

As I stood there sobbing uncontrollably believing I had failed her – I heard the words that made me feel I did do all I could from a nurse who, for me, encompasses the role of a nurse on a level many do not ever achieve. PICU nurses are a special breed of nurse. I know because I’m a nurse, a pediatric anesthesia care nurse and I know – it’s a love of children that keeps you in such a field that shows you over and over a kind of death that brings you to your knees. The deaths of little innocent children and their grieving parents left in the wake.

Over the years after her death, I have dealt with little episodes of guilt, but over all I feel I did my best. But the guilt didn’t stop there. It came in another form, one that I still to this day feel from time to time and that is this: I am here now and she is not. That guilt is paralyzing. It keeps me from moving into a life that God intended for me to have.

Listen. The weight of weariness pulls you down. Self reliance misleads you. Disappointment discourages you. Anxiety plagues you. But guilt? Guilt consumes you. – Max Lucado

If I let it my guilt would consume me, but I am able to keep it at a distance. It rears its ugly head from time to time but I give it over the God and let Him handle it. Because I am just too tired of the battle. That burden of guilt I have carried for so long is now God’s burden. I have become too weary to carry it another day, another minute.

One last thought about righteousness and guilt from the book that I did see as a glimmering sign of hope and that is this; “The path of righteousness is a narrow, winding trail up a steep hill. At the top of the hill is a cross. At the base of the cross are bags. Countless bags full of innumerable sins. Calvary is the compost pile for guilt. Would you like to leave yours there as well?”

I know I have and will continue to if I am to survive this burden of guilt.

until  next time,



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