Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Grace in Guilt

That haunting memory. The boil of regret. Sitting paralyzed. Wasting away. I'm too often drawn back into my memory, reliving the past and remembering verbal blows exchanged. And some of the worst recollections involve thoughtless or harsh words. Words pack a punch, and the bruises they leave are not easily erased. How many of us wish we could change what we said in the heat of the moment? Words have started wars, broken marriages, destroyed friendships, and severed parents and children. Yet the damage from foolish words lay not only in those initial moments, but in the days of living with that memory embedded on our minds.

The memory is real. The pain is real. And the guilt is unrelenting.

When I remember the foolish, harmful things I've said to another person, I often dwell on how my words made them resentful. My mind can become so absorbed with the memory that I can think about nothing but my own failure and misery. It's a crippling feeling, stopping me from walking forward in life.
How do I get out of it? I often get stuck in it. Some say, just think happier thoughts because, what good does it do to get dragged into the dumps by something you can't change? But I can ignore it for only so long, pretending the guilt vanishes when it actually just hides in a dark corner of my heart.
I sometimes try to suppress it by watching a film to get my mind off the guilt. Combine that with a spoon full of nutella, and the distraction works for a time. But you can't ease guilt by shoving aside its reality. Rather, guilt pricks my spirit to make me aware of where I really stand in relation to our perfect, good Creator. In Psalm 38:3-8, David writes of the effect of sin and the damaging feeling of guilt:
 There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.
My wounds stink and fester
because of my foolishness,
I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all the day I go about mourning.
For my sides are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
I am feeble and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.

  Guilt is a gift, a form of God's grace to expose me to my true self and force me to take seriously my sin, whether it's a lashing tongue, a lustful thought or a lingering pride. God wants to break through my distractions, pull off my rose-colored glasses and show me the truth about myself and my future. The festering guilt can function for good, turning me to see my state before a holy God.



  1. Grace, I can relate. I too believe that it is a form of gift from God. Otherwise how else could we come to repentance? If we don't have guilt? How else could we heal and regain trust from our damaged relationship with our LORD, when we fail Him yet again? Thank you for this post. p.s. That is the same dog I wanna get when I leave home. I love bloodhounds! Nice work Grace. :)

  2. You're dog definitely looks guilty. I can relate to this post. Pretending that it's not there while it's just hiding. Watching a movie, diving into a book, trying anything to block out the knowledge of it's existence. If it wasn't for guilt we would not learn from our mistakes and become better people or turn to God's loving kindness in repentance.
    Again, great picture for this post.

  3. I've been wanting to read a recent post for some time now, finally got the chance, took a break in my early morning studies. Guilt is a gift - thank you Grace!