Healthy vs. Unhealthy Guilt

Healthy guilt “acknowledges the wrong done and feels remorse but then is free to embrace the forgiveness that has been offered. Healthy guilt focuses on the realization that all has been forgiven, the wrong has been redeemed.”~~Brennan Manning

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Good morning. It is pre-Friday, November 13, 2014.

Today is World Kindness Day. That should be relatively self-explanatory.

After a flurry of activity on our Huddle message board, in which various ways to celebrate Christi’s birthday were discussed, Christi, Stephanie, and I wound up going to Hoffbrau Steakhouse last night for dinner. We had a very nice time. Nothing was ever decided by the Huddle group, which is par for the course. And they wonder why we never do anything together outside of normal Huddle meetings . . .

I have filled out an application for a position at a CEVA location in Arlington. I know the supervisor, and it’s a little closer to home, plus the drive would be somewhat easier, anyway. I’m supposed to let him know, today, that I filled it out so he can “get the ball rolling.” My manager is not going to be happy about this, but I need to make a change.

Christi’s got her Huddle tonight, so I will take advantage of the time to get some trombone practice in, as I continue to refresh my “chops” for the upcoming ETSU reunion band concert next June!

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From The Divine Hours)

Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
Psalm 106:1
With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes.
Psalm 119:145
To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.
Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;

Psalm 25:1-3
No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.
Psalm 84:11
Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.
O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.
The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.
You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.
Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.

Psalm 5:1-8

Today’s Gospel Reading

All these things Jesus said to the crowds in parables; indeed, he said nothing to them without a parable. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.”
Matthew 13:34-35

Jesus, speaking in parables, fulfilled prophesies about himself. In the next reading, he will explain the parable of the weeds.

Today’s reading in Reflections for Ragamuffins is “Unhealthy Guilt.”

Yesterday, I read about “healthy guilt,” today, the opposite. “Preoccupation with self is always a major component of unhealthy guilt and recrimination.” I can vouch for the truth of that statement. As I was praying for a brother who had confessed something to me, last night, that very thought became part of my prayer as I prayed for him to not become obsessed with the sin. My exact statement to him was, Satan wins many battles by keeping us entrenched in shame.” There are other consequences to this unhealthy guilt. “It stirs our emotions, churning in self-destructive ways, closes us in upon the mighty citadel of self, leads to depression and despair, and preempts the presence of a compassionate God.” I think the worst of these is the last one. Anything that crowds out God’s presence in our lives must go.

But consider the language that comes with this guilt. We’ve all known it. We sin; we fall short of God’s commands. Then we start speaking to ourselves in harsh, “demanding, abusing, criticizing, rejecting, accusing, blaming, condemning, reproaching, and scolding” words. We become impatient with ourselves. Are we really so shocked and horrified that we have failed? When were declared “perfect??” This “unhealthy guilt becomes bigger than life.” Remember the story of “Chicken Little?” (If you don’t, look it up.) As our guilt grows bigger and bigger, we begin to believe that “the sky is falling!”

Guilt over sin is normal, natural, and even good. Healthy guilt “acknowledges the wrong done and feels remorse but then is free to embrace the forgiveness that has been offered. Healthy guilt focuses on the realization that all has been forgiven, the wrong has been redeemed.”

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:20

Father, I pray for this concept of healthy and unhealthy guilt to be clear in my own heart. Then I pray for my brothers and sisters in Christ, that they might know the difference and avoid the kind of unhealthy guilt that drives them away from your presence. May we never speak the words, “I’m unworthy because I did this or that,” especially since the main reason I am unworthy is that I was born in sin. Christ has made me worthy (but only Christ!) and nothing that I can do from here on out can make me unworthy, because of his blood and sacrifice! Yes, I must feel remorse for sin and mourn over my sin, declaring the acknowledgement of my spiritual poverty. But once that is expressed, it is done, and my language to myself must acknowledge the blessed forgiveness by the grace of you, our holy God, who loves us more than we could ever imagine! Let us not wallow in shame over our sin, but confess it and be done with it! Let us not speak harsh words to ourselves, condemning ourselves when, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” How dare we condemn ourselves when you do not!! Ah, Lord, forgive us for our humanness and bring us closer to the divine!

I pray for this day, that our travel may be smooth and safe in both directions. I pray for the work day, that you would be glorified in all that we do, and that we would do our jobs to the best of our ability, and share your Kingdom to all around us. I pray for Stephanie today, that her headache will be gone, and that her allergies will not bother her. Teach us your ways, that we may walk in your truth.

Grace and peace, friends.

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