Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Forgiving Ourselves By Releasing Guilt

We all know what it is like to feel guilty about something, and many of us struggle with feeling guilty all of the time

We all have made mistakes in our lives and we know that.

Ultimately, we must pay for them.

Sometimes we pay for our mistakes here on Earth, other times we pay for them elsewhere.

Either way, we pay our time and our ultimate reward still remains in existence for us.

However, there lies a difficult reality for those of us who sin and that is the havoc it wreaks through the disturbances in our home lives, which creates a tremendous reality of guilt.

Guilt is a reality, not a feeling.

Guilt exists within us, can consume us and devour us.

Only if we allow it to.

We generally believe that guilt makes us feel that we are somehow unforgivable.

While this experience is common, it is detrimental to our overall well being.

Feeling guilty generally promotes a sense of powerlessness; an anguished agonizing over a past action that can neither be changed nor corrected.

An opportunity lost in time, forever.

The problem here is that our emotion over this is not conducive to self forgiveness, or the forgiveness of God; nor does it inspire us to forgive others, make amends for mistakes, or move forward free of desperate emotion.

Originally, but not traditionally, (perhaps I have that intro reversed, and I pray you to consider that) --- either originally or traditionally, guilt referred to a fine paid for proven wrongdoing. A punishment made public through financial or physical loss.

Once we made the payment, either through time, money or harm, for what we had done, we were free.

We were free of the fine and free of the sentence, but we have never been free of the guilt.

This is where forgiveness and acceptance of forgiveness comes into play.

Jesus said "Forgive them, Father, for they do not know what they do"

I would choose to believe that the words of Jesus held a begging question mark;
" Forgive them, Father ? "

For me, that holds the key.

Anyway, the issue with guilt, as it is often experienced now, is that it often becomes a permanent state of mind.

It can become a neurotic preoccupation rather than a fair assessment of our wrongdoing followed by courses of action that lead to reparation.

It is part of the human experience to make mistakes and unintentionally cause harm to others.

It is also part of the human nature to be influenced to become intentional about these.

There is no way to avoid this entirely, and wallowing in guilt will not help us or anyone else when we create a slight in life.

We do need to allow forgiveness to ourselves for our misdoings and wrongdoings.

Not doing so will not prevent future suffering.

Understanding this is the first step towards liberating ourselves from guilt.

When we hang onto guilt about something, the first thing we need to do is practice compassion for ourselves; we are human and we make mistakes.

We also commit sin, which is why God teaches us forgiveness.

Compassion and forgiveness are much more effective than the weight of guilt in helping us to determine a course of action.

We may need to make an apology, we may need to may reparations, we may need to spend some time in repentance.

Ultimately, we need to make some changes in ourselves.

Knowing that, with each action, we create healing for ourselves and those whom we have harmed.

With hope and finality, we learn from our mistakes.

However, it is best that we never beat ourselves up for our wrongdoings.

Inherently, through God, we are good people.

Therefore, it is our duty to do good, love each other and ourselves, and always do our best.

At that point, there will be no place for guilt in our lives.

We can change, and we can lead by example.

Typically, the best way to create change is not to try to convince others to change, but to change ourselves and lead by example.

We all know from experience that we can’t change other people, yet most of us have a tendency to try to do so.

Perhaps we naturally feel the need to do something to change situations that we find troubling.

However, it does not often occur to us that the best way to create change is not to enforce change, but rather to encourage and enhance change through our own selves.

When we make adjustments from within, we become role models for others, even if we've erred in our lives and have sought forgiveness.

And leading by example is much more inspiring than a lecture or an argument.

We sometimes look outside ourselves for what’s wrong with the world so that we can find excuses or blame for our own faults and foibles.

However, we exist inside of ourselves and our lives. We are our individual selves, made complete by our own society.

The outside world is merely just a mirror reflecting us back to us.

When we encounter negativity, anger, depression, fear, repression, aggression, hostility, ignorance, bias, hate -- even love -- we empower ourselves by looking for its roots inside of ourselves.

For example, if we have a friend who is unreliable, we might like to note our responses and see how, in turn, we are unreliable.

I have a very dear friend who invites another friend for a Holiday dinner. In turn, this other friend always returns the invitation. However, neither attends and each are ultimately, and annually, offended.


Well, I believe that this year they have come to accept this, as several others have.

Is it healthy for us to accept the reality that so many of us just do not have the ability to to commit to a time and a date? Or is it is healthy for us to observe ourselves and note if there are ways in which we are unreliable?

Unreliability is a large factor in these present days of depression and worry.

We might not choose to be invited to a gathering of happy people while we wallow in our woes.

We might not have the physical or psychological strength to join.

We might like just to be alone and reminisce of fonder days gone by.

We might be surprised to discover that we each do have our own struggles with these issues in ways we just did not see.

Once we own our issues for ourselves, we can begin to work for change within us.

This will enable us to have more compassion for one another. To strive to become more reliable, and come to grow into the persons we want to be.

To be an inspiration to others, seeking forgiveness through our selves, and offering forgiveness to one another.

What a beautiful circle of true life that will be.

With much love & much light ...

With much forgiveness & much acceptance of your forgiveness,
and all the blessings for a bright & light New Year ...

I love you,


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