“My guilt has overwhelmed me
like a burden too hard to bear.”
~Psalm 38:4 (NIV).
Guilt has us doing many wonderfully silly things; all based in a perverse form of love—a love making amends but in the wrong ways.
My most constantly manifested guilt surrounds my children, and how fallible my parenting has been. It never seems to go away, though these days I can conform the antecedent guilt more formally through love, owning the guilt, and moving on past it.
Yet, it can still look like guilt and I’ll still often need to submit to the searching power of the Holy Spirit to contend in grace for my real motives pertaining in action.
Guiding-In Love to the Assuaging of Guilt
Guilt conformed (i.e. surrendered) to the will of God always drags us closer to him; to pray akin to the psalms, particularly Psalms 51 and 32. Guilt, here, is an ally, not a foe. It rests in the tension of times wronged in the past. It’s God’s grace swimming through us in real and powerful ways.
The practice is simple.
First, as mentioned above, we own it. We have done wrong things—all of us. And even when we didn’t do the wrong thing, we circumstantially underwent things that claw at us in guilt or shame for what these things did to us and/or others (and continue to).
Our consciences bear witness, furthermore, to the truth. There’s no getting past it but to accept. Ownership always leads to acceptance, as far as we’re personally concerned.
Ownership breeds heightened awareness. If ‘enlightenment’ weren’t such a reprehensible concept—especially to those nay-sayers of the New Age kind—I’d use it. Our understanding is braced in the truth. The light of the Spirit has come and illuminated for us, our lives.
3. The Choice to Love – Ironically, Powered by a Morphed Guilt
The simple awareness of our guilt—melded with the all-conquering love bomb—is a strong positive motivator to set all future things right (not that we’re after, or could ever achieve, perfection).
Love this way colludes with guilt, cooperating in a friendly way, meaning no harm and not scaring it off.
As they befriend each other—love with guilt—love goes to work to mentor guilt. It morphs it into something very useful; it becomes a motivating ally and the power and ‘energy’ for learning and, none-less-so, action. For love is always comprised in virtuous action.
We didn’t live through the harassing times for nothing. We bore them for a reason; it’s a natural conclusion, then, that we’re best not avoiding the subject, denying it against ourselves.
We take it on and God loves us through it!
How good, honestly, is God?
Practically, guilt that never leaves us—attended in love—is our guide. It’s always informing us gracefully concerning our acts, bringing us gently—though always—to account.
To account is to love.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.