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Trees of Guilt

“I can’t believe it’s still there! How could you after I told you I didn’t want to see it when I came home?”

I stood there with shame and guilt all over me. My mom had been gone for three weeks in January visiting my grandfather in Iowa for his birthday. When she drove away with my little brother right after the New Year, her last words to me had been, “Get that tree down!” No use passing the blame off to my dad or even to my older sister who had enough stress with high school. I was the one who had been given the job. She’d said she could count on me. Oh, brother! That made it even worse.

Well, I’d made a stab at it. The ornaments came off over several days when I didn’t have anything else to do. But the lights still draped through the branches. We didn’t dare turn them on for fear the tree would burst into flames. Yup, it was an ugly, dead, brown thing staring at me every day, even though I did my best to ignore it.

“Well, let’s get busy. Get those lights off. No, I’m not going to help. Haul that thing out of here and toss it on the curb.” My mom’s tears of disappointment soaked into every word.

Sometimes I feel like I have a “guilt and shame tree” in the corner of my room. It’s usually something from the past, something I’ve prayed about. Something I’ve tried to forget. I’ve asked God or the person I’ve hurt for forgiveness for what I’ve done.... or not done.

I’ve even taken some of the ornaments of pain off and packed them away. But the tree is still there, ugly and ready to burst into a torch if the lights are turned on for all to see.

And then I hear my Savior’s voice: “Why is that tree still here? I told you… I took care of it… on that tree of shame and guilt so long ago.”

He wants it gone, and so do I. But He doesn’t ask me to do it or even help. Through His tears of forgiveness and compassion He once more hauls it to the curb of regrets.

And once again the flood of joy overwhelms me.

Leaving my guilt at the cross,



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