What is guilt?
We can define guilt as an emotional experience which occurs when a person realizes that he/she has compromised their standards of conduct. This feeling is so disturbing mainly because of being closely related to remorse and shame. When guilt is suffocated, the reverse becomes obvious. Where guilt varnishes, the moral fibre breaks down systematically provoking rottenness from the inside of a person to the point of dismantling integrity. Any person needs to recognize and accept that he/she did something wrong and then confess it. The feeling guilt is a responsible inner bell which warns that something abnormal is happening. Guilt occurs only within a person who has a formed and informed conscience. When guilt is not professionally handled; it can provoke health and psychological crisis to person and the community. Guilt is dangerous because of it being contagiousness.
Is it possible to coexist with guilt?
Living under a camouflaged sense of guilt is not a walk in the park. When a person does something wrong, he/she may pretend that all is fine and even forgot about it; issues like cheating in examination or fraud have repercussions. It is not enough to dismiss a mistake by pretending that forgiving oneself is the way to exit the mess. Guilt never melts away instead it resides comfortably inside and bursts out later. At times the person who has been hurt may not show signs. It is wrong to presume that if no one knows, then all is fine. The bible warns that “God will one day judge the secrets of every heart” Romans 2:16.
Evil can never hide
It is pathetic to push evil under the rug and go on with life figuring that forgetting about it is the best option or even consoling ourselves that after all since we all forgot about it, then, it never really happened. At times it may be minimized by saying, “since no one knows what will happen, who can tell him what is to come” Ecclesiastes 8:7. Not being known does not exempt it from anything. An evil act occurs in time and space but guilt persists until it is confessed. Trying to forget it and pushing it out of memory, the worse it becomes. There is one who witnessed everything and can never let you forget. God knew exactly what happened and who did what. The only way out of this is to confess. The more we hide an evil act, the more guilt we feel. It is an illusion to think that we can forgive ourselves.
Take appropriate action before it is too late
When one commits an evil act, the main way out is to acknowledge it. The Bible says “confess your sins one to another so you may be healed.” James 5:16. We know that only God forgives us our sins, yet the same God wants us to live in peace with one another thus the reason to experience pardon with a human face. God knows our sins but for good reason, He wants us to tell fellow people that we are sorry. To confess our sins is demanding but it is the sure way to heal our wounded souls. Sometimes when we confess, things may not go as we expect, but in the long run, we come to realize that being honest is better than hiding under the sand. It is better to come clean than to slowly rot from the inside while pretending that all is fine. Maybe you have not done something as big as destroying a person; maybe you have done something worse. It does not matter. To God, sin is sin and guilt is guilt and until we rid ourselves of that guilt, God cannot begin to repair us and those we have hurt without our collaboration.
Only the truth heals
We need to be aware that only truth heals. It hurts, to tell the truth. It may even break us into tears when we start to confess something really evil that we have done. This break down may take a long time to heal, but it will heal. Healing the harboured guilt is a slow process and some of us are in a hurry to write off the agenda but the truth is that ‘the more we let God heal the brokenness, the better life will be’ cf. Psalm 147:3. Something I have learned is that the more we let God heal our brokenness, the better life we start to live. When we turn our lives to God and accept His perfect forgiveness He says there is now no condemnation impossible to delete. In order to experience a guilt-free life; all God to get rid of your hidden shame and all of a sudden you are set free. Choosing this life does not mean that sin will shy away from attempting you but even when it comes, it finds you ready to resist and defeat it.
Forgive those who have hurt you unconditionally
The other aspect of defeating guilt is forgiving those who have hurt us. It is energy-draining to continuously respond to evil with kindness and to forgive the unforgivable. We love to read stories about people who have done that but when that very thing is demanded from us, our reciprocity seems to be anger, anxiety and self-righteousness. Yet study after study shows that one of the keys to longevity and good health is exhibiting a habit of gratitude and forgiveness. If you cherish living a long and happy life, forgiving the unforgivable is the key. Your enemy may not deserve to be forgiven for all the pain and sadness such a person has intentionally inflicted upon you, but you deserve to be happy. Remember that hate is like acid. It damages the vessel in which it is stored and destroys the vessel on which it is poured.
Fr Paulino Mondo