I wanted to post a video, as I had shared last week, of the song Be In The Moment. However, I had technical difficulties and will have to post that when I have it recorded properly. I am so sorry for not sharing it this week.
So instead, I thought I would share from my heart a part of my story. One of my biggest struggles, after living with abuse and divorce, was living with guilt. I had stayed in a relationship longer than I should have. It hurt me, but it also hurt my children. I noticed that the burden of guilt weighed down my children, as much as it did me.
The Cambridge dictionary defines guilt as a feeling of worry or unhappiness that you have because you have done something wrong, such as causing harm to another person.
I had a heavy heart, feelings of guilt and my own sense of condemnation. I was condemning myself for staying in the abuse, for how it affected my children, and for not recognizing how unhealthy our lives were until it became painfully obvious. There were so many things I wish I could have changed. So many things we lived through, that I couldn’t change, but wish had never happened.
Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” The word condemnation according to the Oxford dictionary means the expression of very strong disapproval.
The one thing I had to learn was the difference between feeling guilty and feeling condemned. I had a strong sense of disapproval of myself, why had I stayed until it had gotten so bad. Yet, how could I have fully known how life would go. I was not in control of the choices my ex made. Yet, I was in control of my choices. I didn’t recognize the abuse, and I didn’t get out when I should have. Staying so long caused so many wounds that needed healing.
So, how did I find healing?
A counsellor recommended a book to me called Self Compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff. It opened my eyes and my heart to understand forgiveness more. The one thing I am really good at is self-criticism, which makes living with guilt so much easier. However, the book walked me through the journey of learning self-compassion and forgiveness. Simply put, if a friend came to me and shared everything that I was dealing with, what would be my response? What would my advice be to that friend?
I would tell my friend I was so sorry she experienced such suffering and I would encourage her that it was not her fault. I would want her not to feel guilty or condemned. I would encourage her to let go of the things she couldn’t change and to have grace for herself. I would want her to forgive herself from perceived failings and find peace in her heart.
So, I had to put this into practice. Each day, I would pray and ask God for wisdom and strength to let go of the guilt and the condemnation I felt that was really not mine to hold or carry. I would pray for peace in my heart. I would remember how Jesus forgave us, and that I deserved the same forgiveness for myself. He thought I was worthy and I needed to find my own sense of worth again. The guilt could not define my life. I learned to let go of living with guilt and I embraced the freedom God had for me.
It doesn’t mean I don’t remember the past; it changed my life. However, I’m not living with the guilt anymore. I pray that this encourages you to have self-compassion, to forgive, and to let go of guilt and condemnation. I pray you find peace and freedom to be who God made you to be.
If you know someone living with guilt, please share this encouragement with them, that they may find freedom too.