The powerful grip of guilt.

Friday is becoming a deep journal-like day on this blog! Last week I wrote a post on forgiveness, this week is going to be all about guilt.

Heavy stuff, right?!

This week, similarly to last week, I’m following along with #SheReadsTruth to record my thoughts on a specific passage of the Bible. Honestly, I was hoping that this week’s reflection would be a bit easier to write about than the verses from last week… but nope! This week (in my opinion) is an even greater challenge for the #SheSharesTruth linkup

shesharestruth linkup

This week I read the chosen passage and immediately thought of guilt. Which is basically the worst and most suffocating feeling in the world (in my opinion, at least). So let’s dive right in, shall we?

Psalm 38:

1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 For your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down upon me. 3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin. 4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. 5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low; all day long I go about mourning. 7 My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body. 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart. 9 All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. 10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes. 11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away. 12 Those who seek my life set their traps, those who would harm me talk of my ruin; all day long they plot deception. 13 I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear, like a mute, who cannot open his mouth; 14 I have become like a man who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. 15 I wait for you, O LORD; you will answer, O Lord my God. 16 For I said, “Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips.” 17 For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. 18 I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin. 19 Many are those who are my vigorous enemies; those who hate me without reason are numerous. 20 Those who repay my good with evil slander me when I pursue what is good. 21 O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. 22 Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.


Is there any feeling in the world worse than guilt?! I don’t think so, and I think David would agree with me that guilt is awful and can be completely consuming, both mentally and physically. Now, I’m not sure if I’m reading the passage the way it was meant to be read, but it seems to me that David was so overwhelmed with guilt that he was unable to focus on anything in life other than his sin, as he says:

4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. 

And gosh, I know what this feels like! 

I can be so hard on myself that sometimes there is nothing I can do to distract myself from my own failings. I guess this goes along with my general Type A personality and consistent feelings that I can and should be working on self improvement at all times. I mean, even typing that was exhausting because I realize how unrealistic those expectations are! How can a person be at peace with that sort of pressure on their shoulders?

One cannot be. And that’s part of what (I believe) David was writing about in Psam 38. He felt his sin made him undeserving of all of life’s good things. He accepted physical and emotional pain and ostracization from his loved ones as a form of ‘punishment’ for what he had done to offend God (and/or maybe others). David was clearly feeling all sorts of afflictions and they seemed to all be related to this cloud of guilt that was following him around and consuming every part of his being. 

While I wouldn’t say I’ve necessarily felt this level of pain (both mental and/or physical) I can attest that my feelings of imperfection have made it hard to move on to actually become a better person. I talked about this a little bit last week, but I have a very hard time accepting forgiveness and grace from God, loved ones, and myself. It’s so sad, really, because we all deserve to feel the peace that forgiveness can bring with it. But I’m my own worst critic, and I will continue to replay the wrongs I’ve done and the ‘what ifs’ and ‘what I should have done’ scenarios in my head over and over and over, far after everyone else (especially God) has forgiven me for whatever it was that I did wrong.

I mean, it’s not like I’ve ever murdered anyone – the guilt I feel is from (relatively) small stuff that just leaves me with this disappointed feeling in my heart/gut. But God gave his son for us! He has already forgiven our sins and all we need to do is ask him for forgiveness and he grants it. But I cannot answer why, as soon as God grants us His forgiveness and grace, that these feelings of guilt don’t disappear into thin air. I, for one, am forgiven constantly (I need a lot of forgiveness, people) and still, on some days I still feel like I can never do anything right.

And once my brain starts going down that path, I feel worthless, defeated, undeserving... (etc.) of not only God, but also the affection of loved ones and even my husband. Guilt can lead a person down a dark path!

I believe these feelings are from Satan, who is consistently trying to remind us of our own failings, so that we distance ourselves from God. 

Well, once I identify these feelings as a product of spiritual warfare, it helps me (a tiny bit) to get over them and remember the gift of grace I receive time and time again. And if God and loved ones can forgive me, I should be able to forgive myself, right?! 

David says it all in the last few verses of this psalm:

21 O LORD, do not forsake me; be not far from me, O my God. 22 Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior.

God does not leave us in our time of need and we cannot get over some of these emotional hurdles without him by our side. Even though we may feel guilty and unworthy of love and grace, we still need to pursue a relationship with God so that we may feel the peace that only He can grant us. Because although sometimes we may feel alone, we never truly are.


Tell me, do you struggle with overwhelming feelings of guilt, or are you more accepting of your imperfections?


Happy Friday!

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