Let me say right away, “I’m not a licensed counselor, and so my comments and suggestions are purely born of experience. Nothing more.”
Guilt and shame are two of the greatest enemies of mankind. We’ve dealt with them since the Garden of Eden.
We can’t slay them alone. They are too formidable a foe. God didn’t create us to deal with such enemies, so our only hope of slaying them is through the sacrifice of Christ, and his offer of forgiveness and restoration in our relationship with God.
Several things over the years have been used by God to slay these beastly dragons in my life.
- Get help from a good Christian Counselor. Secular counselors, no matter how good they are, don’t understand the whole idea of sin. Sin is what brought guilt and shame. Without a proper understanding of the consequences of sin (whether ours or sins against us) there will never be an understanding of the roots of shame and guilt. (James 1:14-15)
- Look at what is yours to own, and what is not. We not only heap guilt upon ourselves, but others love to transfer to us whatever guilt belonging to them we will carry. No one enjoys taking responsibility, especially if someone else will. And the enemy of our souls will gladly assist in the heaping. (John 10:10 – Jesus referring to Satan.)
- Realize there is a difference between guilt/shame and conviction of sin. They are two very different animals! Guilt and shame are elusive, always turning us away from the love of our Creator. You can rarely pinpoint their full cause, and they cling to us like wet tissue paper with no remedy. Conviction of sin points to an issue for which God’s Word offers forgiveness, so that we can have a restored relationship with him. (Matthew 11:28-30)
- Don’t allow guilt and shame to keep you from conviction of sin, forgiveness, and peace. Guilt and shame are always from the enemy of our souls to keep us from reconciliation. Conviction of sin and forgiveness are always from God, with the result of turning us toward God’s love and reconciliation with him and our fellow man! (Genesis 3)
- Run to Jesus for forgiveness. Our need is not to forgive ourselves, our need is to be be forgiven by the One who made us and died for us. This only works permanently to slay shame and guilt if you make the choice to follow him fully – by growing in his grace through spending time in his Word and in fellowship with other true Jesus followers. (1 John 1:8-9)
- Take a realistic look at what you did do well, and own it. Not for your own pride, but to give God glory in how he has used you for good in your child’s life.
- Seek to discover the broken pieces in your own life that cause you to lash out or act in ways that are not loving. Take those to God, and ask for his healing. Ask him to reveal your own heart to you, and mend it. (A good book on this topic, that I’ve shared before, is “Mended Heart” by Suzanne Eller.)
- Remember you are in a battle. A battle between the God who saved you and the enemy who longs to enslave you. Don’t be won by Satan’s lies. (Revelation 12:9-11)
- Live in the reality that in Christ you became a new creation. His Holy Spirit resides in all who’ve yielded to his lead, and he miraculously transforms each one from darkness to light. Let his light shine. Don’t spend your thought life in what used to be. 1 Corinthians 5:17, Colossians 1:11-14, Hebrews 12:1)
- Choose what you dwell on. Don’t spend your thought life in what used to be. Fill your mind with the truth of God’s Word. Fill your soul and spirit with worship. Set your thoughts on things of God. (Philippians 4:8, 2 Corinthians 10:5, Colossians 3:1)
- When it is the proper time, you may need to ask for forgiveness. (Matthew 5:23-24)
- Until then, live your life as a new creature before God, trusting God to do the mending his Spirit is fully capable of doing. Mending doesn’t happen overnight. It is a long process – for you and your child. Broken relationships rarely go one way. (1 Peter 5:5-10, Ephesians 5 – speaking about living that new life before men)
Please don’t rush through this list. Take a couple of days, at least.
Please, if you are struggling in this area, contact me below. I’d love to speak with you, and spend time praying with/for you. Healing takes time. We didn’t get to this place in one day, but God is so faithful! He always finishes the work he’s begun. (Philippians 1:6)
With much love and prayers,
p.s. You may also wish to read: Caution, Emotions at Play!