But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.                                                                                                                                                      II Corinthians 12:9

Remorse: a gnawing distress arising from a sense of guilt for past wrongs 

Merriam -Webster Dictionary

I speak with my clients about guilt and remorse. Guilt is a negative emotion that does actually have a purpose. Its job is to get us in touch with things that we have done wrong in order to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, many people live in guilt long after its usefulness has passed. Guilt is useful only to the extent that it can get us to a higher level of awareness and functioning. It can cause us to act upon the deeds we have done that are not praiseworthy, and ask forgiveness for them.

Remorse is the next level- the healing level- that guilt can bring us to. Remorse is the distress caused by the fact that we have hurt someone else. We feel bad because we have hurt others. Our pain is the fact that we have caused others pain.

Unfortunately, there is cheap guilt that is self-serving. This guilt is hurt that we have been caught. We feel bad because our reputation has been hurt, or because we have consequences to pay. We are upset because we got caught or found out.

I discuss this because remorse is a higher level of self-awareness. Those who experience true remorse seek forgiveness not because they want to feel better. Rather, they want those whom they have hurt to feel better in some way.

So, words matter, and the context of levels of awareness are part of that. True self-awareness needs language in order for it to be understood.  Living in guilt is a bad way to live. Defining ourselves in terms of shame is even worse.

Tomorrow we will talk more about guilt and shame.

Prayer: Lord, you have provided the remedy for guilt and shame. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness, Amen

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