Wednesday, January 10, 2007


A few weeks ago I was sitting at the table awash in guilt. For one thing, I had told my sis I’d try to remember to call this special number and listen in on my 8-year-old nephew’s Christmas program. I wrote it down and everything.

But I was on the phone much of the day and had gazillions of things going on, and then the school kids came home, yada yada, and it plumb slipped my mind.

And my neph is this sweet, large-eyed, fragile little guy who is 8 going on 50 and I did NOT want to disappoint him.

I forget what the other thing was, but I felt equally guilty about that.

Paul wondered what was wrong.

I told him.

He chuckled and said he thinks I actually enjoy feeling guilty.

I said I do NOT.

Then why, he asked, do I put myself through such torment.

Because, as I just explained, my behavior caused pain to another person.

He thought there was no need for me to feel such anguish.

I thought my guilt was the only logical response to my insensitivity.

His Smucker logic kicked in at this point. Do I, he asked, ever think he ought to feel more guilty?

Yes, I said, absolutely. Believe me, definitely.

Ok, then, if it’s ok for me to think he ought to feel more guilty, why isn’t it ok for him to think I ought to feel less guilty?

Well, duh. Feeling less guilty would mean I was being insensitive, thus violating my conscience. Feeling more guilty would not only not violate his conscience, it would give it a much-needed boost.

We hit an impasse here.

Later we discussed it again.

He asked me if I would expect someone else to feel as guilty as I did if they had shown the same level of insensitivity to me as I had to my nephew.

I said no. I would understand that they had lots on their mind. I am way harder on myself than I am on others.

He wisely let this statement stand and did not rub my nose in the obvious logic afloat here.

I still don’t see how he can get by with as little guilt as he feels, and I have no idea how to feel less guilt without damaging my conscience and ethics.

Meanwhile, which of us actually hurts more people and shows more insensitivity? My first thought is HIM, of course, but I actually think on further thought that it might be me.


Quote of the Day:
"You were a rambling moron."
--an unappreciative homeless guy at the Eugene Mission, to Paul, after he preached


  1. Dorcas, you know I have nothing to say on the subject of guilt..except to say I truly understand how you feel.

  2. What was Paul's response?

  3. Mark--the line was moving along and by the time Paul processed what the guy said, he was long gone.

  4. Oh my...guess that remark can't be deemed positive reinforcement, huh?

  5. It's funny. My husband and I have had the exact same argument--almost verbatim.

  6. Love the remark that guy made. How funny!

  7. I wonder if it would be typical of women in our sub-culture to struggle more with feelings of guilt than the men do. I would guess that it would be that way. Then the men, I think, rate higher in other negative emotions such as fear and anger.

  8. I have found the way to feel less guilty is to repent for whatever I did wrong and then forgive myself. If there is no condemnation in Christ, how can I put guilt and condemnaton on myself? Guilt never really helps anything at my house.