Today I’m honored to share my personal story of the effects of guilt in my life, and what happens when one dares to choose grace instead. The beginning of my story is below. If you’re struggling with guilt today, friend, I understand. I pray this encourages you and prompts you to choose grace instead.
The weight on my chest made it hard to breathe. I guess it had resided there for so long, it just became a part of me. Until the day it was too much to bear and I found myself in the hospital with a racing heart rate that would not slip back into its normal rhythm. This weight was not any old weight, though. Its name was scribbled on it in big, bold letters. GUILT.
Lying there in the hospital, I was scared.
Why is this happening? I’m too young for heart problems. It wasn’t until later I learned the negative effects of lingering guilt on our bodies. Guilt can wreak havoc on our nervous systems, it affects our digestive systems, it can increase blood pressure, and its effects on the cardiovascular system can be life-threatening.
No matter how much I tried to hide it or pretend it wasn’t there, guilt consumed my life. Here, my heart was displaying the effects of guilt’s stress placed upon my body. My cardiologist called it tachycardia. God called it a wake-up call.
It was time to be brave and face my guilt.
Dictionary.com defines guilt as “a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.” We can experience guilt over many things. Do I call my parents enough? I yelled at my kids today. I should have made a different decision. Not to mention the guilt we feel for our past mistakes and sins.
Guilt can be healthy or unhealthy. The healthy kind corrects. The unhealthy kind condemns.
I’ve experienced both, and maybe you have, too. One helps us become better. One helps us grow.
And one helps us choose grace…
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