Shame vs. Guilt

I’m sure we’ve all had a plenty of experiences where we’ve done something stupid and felt that flip in our stomachs that tells us bad consequences are coming. I feel it when I’m in the middle of some thoughtless words, when I’m clumsy, and lots of other typical things. When we make mistakes, we should be filled with guilt. Guilt is a healthy, normal thing that is required in order to progress. It helps us to know that we need to get back on the path to God, and that’s great. Guilt is like that pain you get when you burn your hand on something hot; it’s not to torture you, but to warn you that you are headed in unsafe territory. If you keep your hand on any longer, more damage will be done. Guilt is our safety net from further pain and error. It’s one of the beautiful gifts from God. I’m so grateful for this gift, as I need it quite often in order to prevent the repetition of certain mistakes.

Shame is something I do not find beautiful at all. In fact, I abhor it. I am sick of the idea that there are some things that shouldn’t be talked about, that some things should be alienated. I’m sick of people being ashamed of their thoughts and feelings and trials and upbringing and mistakes and everything in between. I firmly believe that shame is not of God.  Shame is basically giving up your divine nature because someone made you feel you didn’t deserve it, be it because of things that you’ve done, your background, or things that you’ve had to experience. In the Bible, Job’s friends tried to make him feel first guilt for what he must have done, and then ashamed of himself because of the trials in his life.  Even if they were consequences Job needed to face because of prior actions(they weren’t), they took what would have been a simple sin and made it personal. To them, it wasn’t about correcting and helping a friend; they were condemning him.

Please, I implore you, do not fall into the trap of feeling ashamed of yourself for making a mistake. With an eternal perspective, we are all young. We are still little children,  testing out the hot stoves in our lives. We’re looking for the boundaries and learning where we’ll stay safe. Some of us have to learn for ourselves, and therefore will make more of the  “obvious” mistakes than others. And that’s okay! As long as we’re learning and growing, even if it’s at a snail’s pace, God is pleased. 
I am grateful that I am finally learning this lesson. For a long while, I didn’t quite understand the difference, and it was eating away at my personal relationship with Heavenly Father. More and more I am learning that truly, all good things come from God. He truly is the God of Love. He does everything that He does because He loves us, and He wants us to come home to Him.

Love,

Annie

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