The Joys of Guilt

I have been working these past few months with our new project, The Trek. It has been intensely personal, thought-provoking and Christ-focused. I have looked into areas of my life which I thought were strong, only to find God motivating me to be better. All in all, however, it has been both a humbling and uplifting experience as I study who God wants me to be.

One of the most interesting areas that I have come across in my studies has been understanding the difference between shame and guilt. Based on my past, I have struggled in these areas - apparently even more than I had realized.

In The Trek, shame and guilt are explained as: We feel guilty for what we DO. We feel shame for what we ARE. A person feels guilt because he did something wrong. A person feels shame because he is something wrong. We may feel guilty because we lied to our mother. We may feel shame because we are not the person our mother wanted us to be. (DeNoon, 2005) (Emphasis Added).

Guilt motivates us to repair the relationship; shame causes us to run away or hide. We see this most clearly in Genesis:

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for t ...

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