Guilt vs. Shame

Shame vs. Guilt. Something I’ve been thinking about lately.

It seems the southeast has finally broken out of the cold snap we’ve been bound by and the children have been able to actually play outdoors. Watching them run around using up some of the energy they’ve been holding in their reserve tanks was like therapy for me. Never have I been so happy to hear childish screaming than these last few days when I heard it coming from outside rather than reverberating off the walls of our tiny home. (and for those of you who will wonder, no, we don’t allow them to scream and yell in the house. but that doesn’t mean they don’t try.)

Abby and I took a walk on the roads by our home, and as we neared our house again, we could see (and hear!) that Hannah had the little boys playing outside. Their childlike exuberance was something to behold and as I walked around snapping a few pictures of them with my phone, I felt something akin to envy.

Because my whole life, straight through from my childhood, I feel like I’ve been saddled with shame. I didn’t go to church or know God as anything more than some invisible, untouchable presence people entered into when they went to church, which we didn’t do. I was well-loved but I didn’t know the love of a God who could save me from myself.

And so I now carry the scars of a one who needed saving but didn’t know it.

Sometimes I feel the weight of who I once was, and it threatens to smother me. But strangely, I was never rebellious or wild or out-of-control. Someone carrying around such baggage as I do seems as though they would have lived a life filled with drugs or debauchery. I never have. The baggage I carry is more from years of trying to be a Christian without Christ.

It sort of messes with your head, you know? You start to think it’s not real or that your whole experience is a sham.

The devil is a master at planting lies and he’s faithful to water them. Because guilt is a message from God that the relationship has gotten off track and a call for you to confess and allow Him to restore. Guilt is a good thing. It leads to repentance.

Shame, on the other hand, is something entirely different and I missed that fact until recently when we were reading through a book on the Sanctuary that a precious friend gifted us. Shame is from the accuser. It’s the message that your sin is too great to be forgiven, even when guilt is prompting you to seek that forgiveness. It’s the counter-attack. It’s the insidiously poisonous thoughts and feelings that work to cast doubt on God’s character of love and mercy.

Guilt and shame are a perfect example of type and anti-type. Because satan has made it his mission to create a counterfeit to every one of God’s truths and we’re all too eager to take the bait.

But if we’re open to the Spirit, and daily bringing ourselves before Him in confession and the plea for His guidance, He will be faithful to reveal to us whether what we’re feeling is from Him or the adversary. But also we can know by this one clear guidepost…

Does what I’m feeling give me hope, or does it leave me feeling hopeless?

A true seeker should never feel hopeless because the One we seek epitomizes hope! He encapsulates it and offers it freely to all who are willing to shed the shame and believe in His sacrifice.

Some things are simply a matter of choosing. And it all boils down to choosing whom we will serve.


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Blog post with Christian encouragement in dealing with guilt and/or shame. #practicalchristianity www.walkingredeemed.com

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