As many of you know I spent 9 years in the Windsor Jail. Just to clarify, it was usually on a Wednesday afternoon and on this side of the bars. Anyway, each week we met with a group of inmates and talked with them about our faith and living a lifestyle that didn’t put you behind bars. Many of the inmates were frequent offenders and would be in and out of jail on a regular basis. Their crimes ranged from theft, to drug dealing, to assault, to murder.
There were many things that they had in common including issues with addiction and mental health. One of those issues was self-forgiveness. Many of the inmates could accept the fact that people in their lives had forgiven them. Many of them could also accept that God had forgiven them. However, most of them could not forgive themselves. They carried a burden of guilt. Guilt for not providing for their families. Guilt for missing birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions. Guilt for disappointing their parents. Guilt for harm that they had done to others. Guilt for feeling guilty. There was no end to the opportunities for guilt. And, they just couldn’t deal with it.
Have you ever had a flashback to something stupid, inappropriate or dumb that you did in the past? I do. Far too often. And, usually it seems to come out of nowhere. I’ll be just sitting around and this memory will pop into my mind and I will be embarrassed all over again and think, “Why did I say that?”, or “Why did I do that?” For a moment I’ll feel guilty about something that happened 40 years ago. All this to say that guilt can be pervasive, all encompassing and can haunt you forever.
I recall talking to someone about something that had happened between us 45 years earlier only to discover that they had absolutely no recollection of something that was still vivid and guilt inducing in my mind. So, not only was I wracked with guilt, but I was the only one affected by it!
I suppose one of the purposes of these emails is to offer some kind of solution, or possible resolution. After all, why dredge up guilt inducing stories and then leave you hanging. While I have nothing profound to offer, I can say that one of the keys is self-forgiveness. Freedom from guilt can only come with forgiveness.
So, if you are looking for the solution, come out this Sunday to The Sunday Gathering. Debbie Johnson will be here LIVE and I’m sure she will offer profound solutions for the guilt that I have dredged up in your life with this story.
As usual: 10:30am for food and friends and 11:00am for worship and inspiration.