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Getting Over Guilt

Bound by guilt? Discover how God's grace and mercy can set you free.

I have a picture on my desk of my daughter Megan when she was three years old. Her back is to the camera, and she’s wearing a bright pink-and-green outfit with a giant pink bow in her hair. Practically neon, Megan was not to be missed even a mile away.

We were playing hide-and-seek at the time, and when it was her turn to hide, Megan had simply run to the edge of the yard and stood right there in the open, very still, facing a bush. No doubt she thought she was hidden. She couldn’t see anyone, so certainly no one could see her. Of course, the picture shows how incredibly obvious she was. She stood out like brightly colored Christmas lights on a dark night.

I love that picture because it reminds me of how I must look to God when I try to hide from him. We all know when we sin, when we blow it, when we have disobeyed God. And like Megan in that picture, we must look ridiculous to God, pretending to hide when, in fact, our guilt is flashing like a neon sign.

But what is clear to God may not be obvious to other people. Those who are close to us may not be able to detect the baggage we carry around. Likewise, we may not be able to see the guilt burdens of the people around us.

Have you ever had a conflict with someone but couldn’t really put your finger on how it all started? It likely was related to past guilt and old regrets—tender places your relationship has tread on. It’s like living in a room with asbestos insulation. You may not notice any symptoms right away, but over time the poison seeps in and makes everyone sick.

We all try to cover up our guilty feelings in different ways. Some try to disguise guilt by keeping up a facade of smiles. Some try to suppress it, deny it, or ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist. But however we try to cover it up, the guilt is still there, leaking through the walls.

Many don’t even realize that they’re carrying around a burden of guilt yet experience its devastating effects nonetheless. It comes out in anxiety, anger, and depression. It even results in illness. In fact, it’s been said that more than half the people in our hospitals today could go home if they got rid of their guilt.

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