Living Without Constant Guilt
Guilt just doesn't get the respect it deserves nowadays. This God-given capacity can help us avoid relational destruction with God, others and ourselves. Through this negative emotion, we can experience positive emotions and behaviors, especially reliability and empathy. Guilt helps us find and keep healthy boundaries.
Our capacity for feeling guilt, the feeling of remorse we experience for a real—and sometimes imagined—wrongdoing that leads to regret, was given to us to be more than a feeling of punishment for wrongdoing, which can be eye-opening news to some Christians. It can act like a beacon toward a better life. This often misunderstood emotion can be an agent of redemption in our lives by providing us with life experiences that can help us change for the better, to turn our suffering into abiding meaning and to create greater responsibility for our own lives. Guilt can free us from behaviors that enslave us through our own destructive attitudes and appetites. It can be a path toward both liberty and responsibility—essential to psychological and spiritual growth.
At the same time, false guilt doesn't receive the scrutiny it deserves. If it did—and that's the purpose of much of this series—more people would live freer and happier lives. Many are unable to separate real guilt, or what Christian counselors call godly sorrow, from false and highly destructive guilt. As this series explains, those who have a difficult time distinguishing between the two usually have not had an experience with authentic love and acceptance. People who suffer under the weight of this manufactured burden have a specific spiritual deficiency: they do not yet understand God's grace and atoning work through Christ. They also share similar upbringings and similar hang-ups: they usually received too much criticism as kids, which gave them a hyperactive conscience. They bear false witness against themselves, which is still a sin. They have what's called the disease to please others, making them too easily influenced and even manipulated by others, among other problems. People burdened by constant and false guilt are unable to forgive themselves and have an inability to give others Vitamin N, telling others "no."
The final section of this unique explanation of this pivotal topic uncovers the cure for alleviating ourselves from constant and actual guilt, taking care of unfinished business in our past relationships.
Copyright 2008 Paul Coughlin. Used with permission. All rights reserved.