It was one of those conversations I didn’t want to have because it was unexpected and hit close to home. My husband had asked how many of my actions are motivated purely by guilt. I had never really thought about that and honestly didn’t want to. But I felt prompted to examine my heart. So, I sat down and began journaling… not only is journaling how I work through my own two-way conversations with God, it’s a powerful tool in the creative process.
The more I journaled, the more I realized what an underlying foundation guilt had played throughout my life. I believe it began in childhood, when as the oldest of four kids, I always tried to make sure things were “equal” amongst us. If I felt I had more or was shown more favor than my siblings, I felt guilty, something that carried into adulthood.
I often talk about the pitfalls of comparison with the songwriters I mentor, usually from a “they have more than me” perspective. Comparison – weighing our gifts and successes against others – kills community, which is essential to our spiritual and creative wellbeing. What I hadn’t realized was that comparison was still operating in my life in the form of guilt. I came to realize, with God’s help, that my greatest gifts in life, like my husband, children, ministry, and music gifts were all things over which I carried guilt. Why? Because I knew others who wanted those things. And I just couldn’t make it equal!
Ultimately, I believe this way of thinking is a form of pride. It appears as humility, but it actually keeps us focused on self. So, I prayed and asked the Lord to help me form a fresh foundation no longer influenced by guilt. He replied, “The opposite of guilt is thankfulness.” Wow! Thankfulness gets the focus off us and back on Him.
I also realized that when the Lord gives us a gift, the way we receive it matters. If we receive a gift with thanksgiving, it becomes a blessing. If we receive it with guilt, it can feel like a burden, a boulder in the path of our relationships with Him and others. And if you are a songwriter, musician or artist, it can become a boulder in your creative path.
These verses helped me understand a little better.
1 Timothy 4:4-5 ESV
For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is RECEIVED WITH THANKSGIVING, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.
Colossians 3:17 NIV
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS to God the Father through him.
Lord, let thankfulness be the foundation of my life. Help me to stop comparing myself with others and instead receive every gift that you give with thankfulness so that it becomes the blessing it was meant to be. Let everything I do be done out of thankfulness too, not out of guilt, so that you remain my focus. Thank you, Jesus!
— Krissy Nordhoff
Krissy Nordhoff is a professional songwriter, co-founder of the Brave songwriting community, author, and creator of The Writing Worship Course. A Michigan native, Krissy grew up in a Christian home, learning a love for church music from her pianist grandmother. That love carried through the years as she attended Anderson University, studying songwriting with the legendary Gloria Gaither and later as Krissy taught piano and performed as an indie artist.