I started carrying guilt around at a young age. In the seventh grade, I felt guilty for making the cheerleading squad when my friend didn’t. In high school, I couldn’t stop beating myself up for stealing. Now, as an adult, I encounter guilt for yelling at my kids, not spending enough time with my husband, and not having a handle on money. I hide it well, even from myself, and keep moving forward, but it’s always there nagging at me.
Guilt is not a part of God’s plan. It drains the life out of us and separates us from reality. Yet, we keep guilt around never looking to see how much it steals or controls. God wants more for us! He wants us to be free.
Guilt is a mental and emotional experience that occurs when a person thinks or realizes they have compromised their standards of conduct and accept responsibility. When we don’t give these experiences over to God, they can quickly turn into shame. Shame, in return, attacks our identity, causing us to feel unworthy or not good enough. Guilt and shame take us away from the heart of God.
Guilt is an emotion with no boundaries. We experience it for things we said/did, things we didn’t say/do, and things we think we said/did. We encounter food guilt, past guilt, and parenting guilt. We face it when we can’t live up to people’s expectations and when we don’t answer our parents’ phone calls. It touches every area of our lives.
Unafraid of the spotlight, guilt easily becomes an idol, pointing us away from Jesus and taking up space in our hearts meant for something or someone else. Fighting to escape, we repeatedly apologize, withdraw, pretend we don’t care, or justify our actions by declaring “I wouldn’t ____________ if they would just _______________.”
Guilt has no purpose, except causing us to stay the same, live in shame, and fall deeper into ourselves. We were not created to carry a suitcase of past, present, and future mistakes. God is a God of purpose. Over the next few days, I pray you learn to let God use your mistakes to move you into a deeper place with Him. A place where guilt no longer drives your life. What type of guilt are you battling? How is it affecting your everyday choices?