Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guilt is not becoming.

This post is the first post belonging to a synchroblogging project in which a small group of bloggers have agreed to write on the same topic regularly. (We don't really have any rules, so I believe I'm allowed to discuss the synchroblog within the synchroblog. If not, let the synchroblogods strike me now.)

Our first topic is guilt.

For days I sorted through possible post topics related to guilt - mostly stories I could tell, because stories are the best kinds of posts. There was a problem - I couldn't think of a story involving guilt that I really wanted to write about. Writing about something is kind of like agreeing to go on a date with it. Sure, the experience may not last long, but it could be quite uncomfortable.

I wasn't willing to go on a date with guilt.

I consider myself to be a very practical person. I'm not entirely sure whether or not others would agree. I can also be a very silly person, but don't believe these two things to be mutually exclusive. I define practical as being toward an intended end. I am silly toward the end of having joy and then gratitude. Therefore, my silliness is quite practical.

There are certain things that, when I set them next to my particular brand of practicality, I find impossible to embrace. One of these things is guilt. Guilt serves no practical purpose.

Remorse, sure, that's helpful. That's a feeling that can help me make a good decision next time, help me make things right. It works together with empathy and reconciliation, I think, to unite people, even in painful times. Guilt, on the other hand, only alienates people. It stops people from loving themselves and prevents them from building relationships. Unbound guilt could well be a death sentence to joy and any meaningful social interaction.

I don't have the statistics in front of me, but I would guess that guilt is number one killer of Christians, who, by definition, aspire to be godlike. It's like a diet, or anything else we try to stick to for our own good - once you start to stray, the guilt starts to eat you, and sooner or later, most people just fold completely to avoid it.

In an attempt to stay alive, I decided long ago that guilt was not for me. I wasn't made for it and it is not becoming.

And that is why I didn't want to go on a date with guilt. It makes me nervous.

Fellow synchroblogger posts:


  1. do you feel guilty for taking guilt out for coffee?

  2. Guilt is, trust me, an insufferable date. It's also a terrible thing to let move in with you, because it's really hard to get rid of. I too tried to think of a story that happened more recently than 15 years ago, but none of those transgressions are fodder for blogging. Whoever picked this topic is kind of a jerk.

    Since I am conscientious but also fallible, I don't know how to live a guilt-free life. I agree that guilt is unproductive, but since it's also pretty irrational, I don't see a way to effectively guard against it. And once it has me, I have no idea how to get out of it but to seek a kind of understanding that brings release. It can be years untangling those knots.

  3. by "guilt" I'm assuming you mean "the feeling of guilt"?

  4. Alaina - No. It's just coffee, right?

    David - It's all in the thinking. I believe guilt tells us lies about our worth that can cripple us, unless we constantly remind ourselves of our true identity, which is not based on the mistakes we've made.

    Dwight - I guess? Someone told me that my ideas of remorse and guilt might be more aptly discussed as guilt and shame, respectively.

  5. when I think of guilt I'm thinking: "having broken a law" which doesn't fit in any of the places you wrote guilt (or remorse).