I have been haunted by undeserved guilt and shame for most of my life.I have come a long way in that regard but I will never totally wipeout that tendency. Like most growth steps it takes persistence to gain ground. As is said, “Practice makes Progress.” and “Persistence is needed for serenity”.I will always need to act with consistent purpose to drive the guilt away every time it sticks its up its ugly head.
A few days ago my great friend Linda Moll Douglas and I were taking on the phone. Our conversation reminded me of this story. My third daughter and I were sitting in the living room quietly thinking our own thoughts. She was about 9 or 10 years old. I often found myself sitting in a room at the same time as Jan. We did not plan to do that but it just happened that way from time to time.
For some reason I asked her this question out of the blue. I said “Honey. What,do you think of guilt? She did not even look up and answered the question this way. “Guilt sucks’
Linda and I laughed with the laugh we all when t when a sudden shining truth pops into our life. It was the laugh of sudden recognition and acceptance. My daughter was just 9 or 10 at the time. When I asked her that question I didn’t expect an immediate, surprising utterance of wisdom. I guess I just wanted to have a conversation with her. In two words, she summed up everything I need to know about guilt.
There are things I do know about that negative, accusing inner voice. One is that in almost 80 years of living that voice has never told me the truth.
Another is that voice never talks about things that relate to a specific act of behavior on my part. It is always an attack on me as a person. It attacks my view of who I am.
God’s truth leads me but my false accusations drive me. Conviction from god says yesterday afternoon you lied to Tom. It is always in space time specific. Condemnation says “You lied to Tom therefire you are nothing but a dirty liar.
It took a child to teach me that guilt sucks. I am forever grateful.