Guilt is, in my opinion, significantly overrated. It isn’t that it is all bad. Guilt can help one identify experiences worthy of learning. Once we have identified the lesson, even before learning begins, guilt’s role is finished. Yet few, myself included, give guilt its freedom.
If I had to do it over again, I’d rarely use guilt. In fact, I would put guilt as the last of the last tools of last resort! I know why I use it, it is effective, but I wonder about my motives. Do the ends justify the means? Can one take whatever action is required in order to get to a destination? Should the objective be more important than the process?
I find, as I gather more and more gray hairs, my approach is changing. Engaging another’s heart and mind is far more important than the goal. I know this is problematic, people do not always respond. Even with this is the case, I find it is often better to let the situation move into idle, than to act through guilt. For a variety of reasons it just doesn’t work!
As I listen to musicians and artists tell their stories, I find guilt recurring, again, and again. Ironically, guilt doesn’t seem to fix, mend, or comfort. In other words, guilt does far more harm than good. We, musicians, artists, you, and me, should let guilt go, but it isn’t easy. The challenge isn’t new. When a prophet was getting a word, the hidden impact of guilt is clear; “Speak softly and tenderly to Jerusalem, but also make it very clear that she has served her sentence, that her sin is taken care of—forgiven! She's been punished enough and more than enough, and now it's over and done with.” (Isaiah 40.2)
You and I have had enough bad stuff in our lives! In addition to the evil in the world around us, we create our own unique hells. Enough is enough! Today I am going to embrace freedom. I will learn and move forward, bathed in forgiveness, compassion, and hope.
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