Guilt is an interesting thing. Defined as “a feeling of deserving blame for offenses,” many people perpetually carry guilt around with them – like a cancer in their soul.
Guilt can make us do some pretty crazy things. We may try to minimize our offenses. We may try to make up for our behavior with superficial overtures, money, or gifts. We may withdraw from those who love us most. We may project our wrong-doings onto the people we’ve hurt. Any of these actions cause further pain and further guilt, and the cycle repeats. This is where guilt can be destructive.
On the other hand, guilt can also be a healing tool. It can serve as a self-correction motivator. Guilt is uncomfortable and heavy, and no one likes to carry it around. If we choose to use it to make genuine apologies and positive changes, it can be a part of salvaging even the most damaged relationships. The key, though, is to go beneath the surface and make true, deep strides to correct whatever offense we might have committed. It takes guts and work and can sometimes be as uncomfortable as the guilt itself.
No one is blame-free in this life. No one is going to leave this life never having wounded another. We are all human and make poor choices from time to time. When we feel guilt in our lives, let’s remember we’re fallible beings, and we can choose to make true and lasting changes to right any wrongs we may have committed. We all want to be truly seen and heard, and that requires a willingness to sit in stillness and really listen when others speak. It requires a willingness to be honest and open ourselves.
It’s not what we give people on the surface that makes a difference; it’s how we choose to really connect with one another, spirit to spirit, that brings the deepest healing – and the blessed release of guilt.