“When feelings of guilt and condemnation arise, press through them in faith and say, ‘I don’t care how I feel. I have been forgiven!'” –Joyce Meyer, Never Give Up.
For most of my life, guilt, condemnation, and shame have taken it over. For a long, long time, I did not know why. I mean, I’ve done bad things – I’ve made plenty of mistakes and unfortunately, have regrets too.
But of all the events in my life, it’s the things that were done to me that I believed were worse than anything I’d ever done. How crazy ridiculous is that?
People have told me that although I’ve been forgiven by others, I have not done a good job 0f forgiving myself. That’s where the shame, guilt, and condemnation come from, I think. These feelings about ourselves are so natural, aren’t they? But what purpose do they serve?
Some say we should not feel guilt at all. I don’t believe that. A certain amount of guilt and shame propel us into change. Condemnation can convict us. But where is the line?
I’d say where these three feelings take over your life. When you become more focused on them than on positive things; when they are a constant background theme song in your mind.
Guilt, condemnation, and shame have made me selfish, controlling, angry, frustrated, and hard to get along with. It has caused constant unease in my life, not to mention lots of anxiety and fear. I have been ashamed of my life – not to confuse with where I come from, the kind of parents I have, or what was done to me – I have been ashamed of what I have made of my life.
I was told, often enough that it stuck, that I would “never amount to anything” because of my behavior. I understand why that was said – my behavior wasn’t great sometimes. And it wasn’t said to me out of hatred. Lots of parents think all their kids are the same – they should be treated the same, should be punished the same, and should have the exact same expectations placed upon them. But kids are different, just as all adults are different! They react to the same situations in different ways. They react to punishment and expectations in different ways. They won’t all be straight-A students, homecoming queens, quarterbacks, or popular. They don’t have the same personalities, and should be carefully monitored to find out what works in their lives.
Whenever I failed, I used to hear those words in my mind. They did, indeed, become a self-fulfilling prophecy! But that was my own weakness, and not to be confused with the fault of my parents, because at some point in our lives we do become adults, after all. We do have to figure out our own lives, and make our own decisions, and quit blaming our mistakes on others.
Having God’s love in your life makes a world of difference when it comes to condemning thoughts and feelings. I’d say that Christian maturity is realizing God is the one we should be worried about; not our parents, our bosses, our spouses, etc. He is the one we should be getting our expectations from. You know that if you do that, the rest will fall into place.