Why guilt defined my spirituality and how I left that paradigm behind

In Brad Paisley’s controversial song “Those Crazy Christians,” there’s a line about going to church that says:

Those crazy Christians, dressed up drivin’ down my street, Get their weekly dose of guilt before they head to Applebee’s.

I can relate to this line because: one, I love just about everything Paisley writes and sings; two, Applebee’s is a pretty good place to eat; and three, guilt has unfortunately been one of the main concepts that has defined my spirituality over the course of my life.

Far too often, guilt has followed me like a shadow. Whether it was failing to attend Mass and confession during my years in the Catholic church or failing to “read the Bible more” and “pray more” during my years in the Protestant church, I have always experienced a sense that I “wasn’t doing enough” or “could be doing more.”

This mindset has stuck with me for as long as I can remember.

When I got baptized in high school, I remember telling myself, “I’m going to see how long I can go without sinning.”

Didn’t last long.