Any day now, I’m expecting scientists to announce the discovery of a gene specific to women—the guilt gene!

Sue rushed through the after-dinner clean-up, filling the dishwasher and slapping the control panel with an elbow–only to hear a strange thumping noise. She stopped the machine! Staggering out of the maze of plates and silverware was a wet and soapy pet–the family ferret, Ferdinand. She might have thought, “Oh, good, he needed a bath!” But instead, as the children wailed, “Mom, how could you do such a thing!” she felt the ill-effects of the guilt gene. She would never live this down.

Jill whipped up a batch of pesto to take to a potluck when she looked down and noticed that one new acrylic nail was missing. She hastily ran the pesto for the group through a sieve. “Don’t eat the pesto in the fridge!” she called out as she dashed through the door. “I lost a fingernail! I’ll find it when I get back.” Her husband and son, intent on the sports channel, may not have heard her while eating chips and dip. Her guilt gene kicked in for the next three hours. She worried about them choking on the plastic piece the size of an almond.

A tour guide, Lacy, rattled off a regional housekeeping fact, launching a dozen women in the crowd into a guilt gene-driven tizzy. “Even though the average rainfall here is thirty-one inches and it rains nearly every day, the women here wash and polish their windows three times a week.” There were gasps. One woman mouthed, “Three times a week?” How long since she had washed her windows? Like me, maybe she couldn’t remember.

When I took a clean bathrobe with me as a prop for a humorous speech at a crowded restaurant, I donned the robe to make a point. Floating to the floor was a pair of my lacy underwear. It was a one-of-a-kind experience for the standing-room only lunch crowd. I could have thought “Wow! I’ve been wondering where those were. I’ve been looking for them forever.” Or, let the guilt gene kick in, “You should have used a dryer sheet and it wouldn’t have stuck.”

“Does the guilt gene ever fade away?” I wondered as I called a friend to ask, “Do you ever feel guilty for the things you don’t get done now that you’re retired?” She cupped her hand around the phone so her husband would not hear her answer, “Oh, yes! Absolutely.”

However, God immobilizes the guilt gene with a needed remedy: praise and encouragement. In Proverbs 31–a record of major multi-tasking, the Bible refers to the assets of women, “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” [NIV] Sweet words for the guilt-plagued.

Though scientists may discover sound evidence of a guilt gene, God recognizes women as an important component of the family and the world. “Give her the reward she
has earned, and let her bring her praise at the city gates.” Amen to that. How have you praised a hard-working woman today?

[Jo Russell is a Christian teacher, speaker, author of many articles, contributor to several anthologies, and Which Button Do You Push to Get God to Come Out? A Humorous Devotional for Women, available from her website, For more chuckles and to hear a speech, enjoy excerpts of her book and tips, check her entire website options and weekly blog.]