This week I blog on guilt, anger, depression, forgiveness, from my upcoming Marriage Renovation book.
People do things wrong, miss the mark, and sin—no doubt about it. In response, the Holy Spirit who dwells in us convicts us from within. He is extremely effective, and He knows what He’s doing. The bible talks about the conviction, not the guilting, of the Holy Spirit.
So if it’s not conviction then what is guilt? (Or really, “false guilt.”)
We have to come to grips with the damage we’ve done, large and small, intentional or not. The more fully we realize our mistakes, the more it breaks our heart, and the more wracked we can become with guilt. But we do not have to stay there. Once you admit where you messed up, you can repent. Grieve the loss. Then you’re home free. You can move forward. As I realized the cost of my mistakes to my marriage, husband, and children—grief roiled inside me for damage done. I apologized and sought forgiveness, even as every new revelation brought hot tears.
Then after about a year, I was done. God showed me my part (painful), but he showed me other contributing factors: wounds from my family of origin, and my husband and children’s part as well. (These don’t provide an excuse, but they gave me compassion for myself.) As you grieve, let God lift your guilt—the very thing He is eager to do. To continue to condemn yourself is to labor under false guilt, and to disbelieve God’s forgiveness.
Blame is the enemy’s great distraction device, designed to skew our focus. If I focus on what I did wrong, or what he did wrong, then I am not focused on Jesus making things right. Blame ends at man’s feet (and what we did wrong) instead of at Jesus’ feet (His power to put things right). Marriage is a natural place to take blame or to shift blame. Either one is a distortion that brings death.
Conviction, on the other hand, brings life. It gives hope that even though I messed up, He stands ready to restore it all!