By KATE WALSH SOUCHERAY – Gazette Columnist
Guilt is a terrible thing. It can fester in us and rankle our mind and heart so the way we interact with others is altered and influenced in a negative way.
Guilt often makes us feel so badly. We don’t want that feeling, so we cover it up with more choices that harm our life, such as drinking, altering our mood with drugs, engaging in pornography or shopping all day and spending money we do not have. Guilt can seem to turn us into someone we never intended to become.
But what can we do about the guilt we experience? Many people confuse guilt and shame. Guilt is a feeling that alerts us that something we have done is wrong. Shame generally tells us that we ourselves are wrong. As this Scripture passage states, when we have felt guilt, it is like a rift, or a crack, that bulges out a high wall, which then causes it to come crashing down, as if in an instant.
We know, of course, that the wrongdoing took far longer than the instant it took for the wall to come down. We know it took many days, weeks, months, and perhaps even years for that guilt to erode our self-respect.
It seems that the main thing to do when we feel guilty is admit it, accept it and do all we can to deal with it. If it requires an apology, do it. If it requires that we make a phone call or a personal visit to own up to a lapse in good judgment, then we must be about that post haste.
When we feel guilty, we must take that as a sign action is needed to bring ourselves into right order with others. The sooner we take care of the situation, the sooner we will be back to living in a productive, happy, more peace-filled way.
Kate Walsh Soucheray is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Stillwater. She works at Christian Heart Counseling at 275 Third St. South and can be reached at [email protected] or 651-439-2059, ext. 718.