To sum up this 3 part series on self-inflicted wounds I’m going to address guilt. Parts 1 and 2 addressed resentment and fear. The idea is that letting these negative feelings into our hearts is damaging. When we work to counteract our wounds, we will grow closer and stronger in our relationship to God.
Of all of the self-inflicted wounds, this may be the one that I work on the most. I am sarcastic by nature. In fact, I was voted “Most Sarcastic” by my classmates in high school. Sarcasm can be funny when used in the right setting, but a lot of times it is hurtful. I used to be proud of my quick wit and sharp tongue, but often times it would leave me feeling guilty at the end of the day. You see, in my heart I actually care about how other people feel. Did they take what I said the wrong way? Will they still be friends with me? Would I be friends with me if I said that to myself?
In recent years I’ve cut down on the sarcasm. But the habit of overanalyzing my words is still there. I constantly think about things I’ve said to people and wonder if I have hurt them. I feel guilt when I think I have.
This is my personal struggle, but chances are we all struggle with guilt in some way shape or form. Another way to think of guilt is as regret. Maybe you don’t regret saying something, but instead you regret doing something. We may hold regret in our relationships, finances, careers, and thoughts.
Don’t wallow in guilt or regret.
Spending excess time and energy feeling guilty isn’t productive. I was reading something recently (that I cannot place right now) that when we spend too much time analyzing ourselves we are actually being selfish. We don’t want to spend so much time focused on our guilt that we push God out of our lives.
It can be hard to ask for forgiveness. Sometimes when we feel guilty, we run away from our problems instead of addressing them. Raise your hand if you’ve turned away from God because you were too ashamed to tell Him what you had done. Have you ever felt undeserving of His sacrifice and His love because of your feelings of guilt? I have. This is the definition of self inflicting wound.
When you turn away from God, you turn away from the truth. John 3:17 says this, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” God sent Jesus to the world to save sinners. Jesus didn’t surround himself with only perfect people. Perfect people don’t exist. God loves you and wants a relationship with you no matter how heavy your heart or burdens are.
Healing yourself from guilt.
- Recognize the guilt. Identify what has caused shame and address it.
- Bring all guilt to God. Confession can be difficult, but in the end it can be calming and healing.
- Change the aspects of life that bring guilt and shame. We don’t want to end up repeatedly feeling guilty, and the way to do this is to change our habits.
“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Isaiah 1:18
When we genuinely ask God for forgiveness, He is there for us. He doesn’t want our sins to separate us from him. He wants to forgive us and heal our hearts.
Like I said in part 1, I haven’t ever spent much time thinking about how I am hurting my relationship with God. It can be hard for me to be honest with myself and own up to my own mistakes. I know that becoming more aware of these self-inflicted wounds will help me prevent them from happening. In this way, I hope we can all heal our hearts and strengthening the roots of our faith.