Shame, guilt, and regret. Most of us have had bouts with these emotions. In retrospect, it’s good to have, it means we are human. Emotions like shame, guilt and regret can be the catalyst that can show us empathy and sympathy. The issue reveals itself once the thoughts linger. When it comes to the word “dwell” we always want to make sure that the word is associated with God, His atmosphere, presence, word, etc… As believers we want to dwell wherever God is concerned. But what happens when we dwell on other things? What happens when we dwell on the thoughts of our past or current misgivings that are not so close to God. What is the result of that and where does that leave us?
It leaves us in a place of uncertainty. We can end up uncertain about ourselves, uncertain about our relationship with others and uncertain about our relationship with God. While our relationship with ourselves and others may be at a standstill, there can always be a progression with our relationship with God. Even if we feel like it can not.
What comes next is up to you.
What God says about “Shame, Guilt, and Regret”
Whenever we commit a sin against God, ourselves and one another, how many times do we actually turn to God? I know for myself that whenever I have done something to feel guilty, I take the opportunity to do so, more often than going to God first. It is easier to dwell on our actions and allow shame, guilt and regret to be stamped onto us. To identify us. Our emotions come easy and natural. Just as when something great happens we get happy, if the opposite occurs why wouldn’t we feel sad? Why wouldn’t we dwell on our mistakes when we also have the habit to dwell on our successes?
It is honestly easier for us to think negatively because through my experience, darker thoughts can come naturally. Although we may know God, fleshly instincts still can be so strong. Which is why it is so important for us to turn to Him. Praying and reading the word (Bible), is a way to talk to Him and to hear from Him. Let’s try doing that together. Earlier I asked what does God say about shame, guilt and regret? Let’s find out:
1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
“If we confess our sins”. IF we confess our sins. It all starts with confessing to Him and creating a posture of repentance. We need to be honest about the things we have done, allow ourselves to acknowledge what is the root of our shame and give it to God. By having a heart of repentance or giving it to Him, we allow ourselves to truly pour our hearts out to God. Trust in Him to know that He will “forgive us our sins” and for Him to “cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Once we have been cleansed, we need to know that those feelings of guilt and shame do not belong to us anymore. The feeling may not go away, but “guilt” is just a feeling. Feelings are extremely fickle. What is strong and rooted in truth is the Word. The Word is one way God communicates with us. So let us believe and know that over how we feel because sometimes our feelings can not be trusted. Only God can.
Psalm 34:5 “Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
We are radiant! Never be ashamed! We may feel that we are ashamed or are shameful but again, what does mere feelings have to do with what is said about us by God? As long as we look to Him we are radiant. Our “faces shall never be ashamed.” No ifs or buts. We need to believe and know that. We can not leave uncertainty in what we know of God. Especially since He is telling us that we shall never be ashamed. There is a difference between our understanding of shame and the Lord’s understanding of shame. His ways are not our ways, our thoughts are not His thoughts, because of this when we feel shame, it does not mean that the Lord is ashamed of us. What matters the most is how our God sees us over the world. If He says we are radiant, then what are we? I’ll let you answer that one.
John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Just as it is said. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” That is a direct promise, but again there is an “if”. It is important to recognize and realize there is work to be done on our end before God can deliver us from bondage. Constant feelings of shame, guilt and regret is bondage. The Son sets you free if you give yourself to Jesus. He sets you free if you repent your past ways, declare Him as your saviour. If you are a believer and are reading this, then please remember this: You have already been set free. Shame is no longer on you, guilt is no longer on you. Just because it feels like it, it does not mean it is. Instead of looking back, let’s look forward. God is with us, and is also waiting for us ahead. We just have to take those first couple of steps.
It really all comes down to reminding ourselves that if God has forgiven us, then we need to forgive ourselves. He has told us that as long as we are in Him we are forgiven, there is no shame in us and that we are free. Let’s try our best to have that same grace for ourselves that God has already placed on us.
The Big Picture:
I decided to talk about shame, guilt, and regret because we can all relate. It is one thing to measure the hurt that has been caused because of us but it is another to hold on to it. Because of this and through my experiences in hurting other people, myself and God, I know how it can lead to a lonely path full of self loathing and un-forgiveness of oneself. It can feel like the earth trembles as the ground opens and swallows you up. Suffocating on the shame and guilt because one way or another it is your fault. But in the darkness, there are cracks of light that still makes it way through. It is through that light God speaks. His words like hands that lift us up out of our own thoughts and back into His palace. Where His Son died on the cross in exchange for our own keys to the entrance. There is always a way out and back into His arms. And That is what matters.
2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come”
1 John 2:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
Questions we should all think about:
Who is the first person I go to when talking about my shame, guilt or regret?
How often do I turn to God when I have done something I regret?
What is keeping me from making God my first choice of help?
Prayer: Almighty Father, forgive me for my sins, forgive me for not putting you first in all that I do. Give me the strength to acknowledge my wrongdoings and to move forward in you. Convict me whenever I am in times of need and forget to call upon your Holy name. Thank you for freeing me in Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.