I heard him say, “I just can’t forgive myself. I feel so guilty…”
I’ve heard others say this very thing but on that day his words hit me in an odd way. What would cause someone to not accept forgiveness? Why would anyone want to hold on to the past that badly?
“I feel guilty…” I played it over and over. Then it dawned on me, maybe guilt isn’t an emotion. Maybe it’s just a simple fact.
There are two reason why we feel guilty. The first is that we are super sensitive, insecure, and feel like everything that goes wrong in the world, in our lives, and in the lives the people around us must be our fault. We have caused all the evil, bad luck, and devastation in the world and are resigned to carrying the guilt and responsibility until the day we die. To those I simply ask, “How’s that working for you?”
The second reason we feel guilty is that we are. We did something – that cause something – thus we are guilty. In this case, guilt isn’t an emotion, it’s a fact. We are guilty!
This should not be alarming to anyone since we are all guilty of something. Even God says we are all guilty. So why do we pretend we aren’t? Why do we prefer making this fact into a feeling and carry it through life with us?
Once we flip the switch from feeling guilty to admitting that our guilt as a fact, we are free to accept forgiveness. Whether that’s God’s forgiveness, the forgiveness of another, or forgiving ourselves. It can only be accepted when we admit we were wrong.
Guilt is a fact, not a feeling.
I’m quite sure a jury never came to the conclusion that the defendant felt guilty.
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