Guilt and shame are lying suckers. Shame is that story stealer.
Here’s some more wow truth from Dr. Henry Cloud:
I once worked with a young woman who was sleeping around. After each incident, knowing it was wrong, she would vow to never let it happen again. But then she would meet some guy who seemed nice, and he would pressure her for more than she wanted to give, and…she would not be able to say no. Afterward, like most guys who push women for sex where there is no commitment, he would soon be gone. She would feel cheap, used, but mostly guilty.
“I know God says I shouldn’t be doing this,” she would say. “And each time, I think I won’t, but I do. I hate myself. I am such a loser. What kind of Christian am I?”
The biggest consequence—that she was aware of—was her guilt. What consumed her was how “bad” she was. And that is the big problem with guilt. Her guilt was so strong and pervasive that it was all she could see. It blinded her to the real consequences of her behavior.
Her real problem was what was going on in her life while she was wasting time feeling guilty. Her real problem was that all the while, her heart was getting more and more split inside as she kept giving her body to guys who were not connected to her heart and soul. The division inside her psyche was getting stronger. She was losing the ability to even know what she felt for a guy she was with, as she detached from herself more and more.
On top of that, she was letting her dependency on these guys’ attention rule her, all the while not developing the discernment and relationship skills needed to find someone who would be good for her long term—the kind of guy who would be worth giving herself to. The real problems of her behavior were a combination of what was happening to her and what was not happening while she was caught in the cycle. Those were the things I wanted her to see. But until the guilt was out of the way, she couldn’t. (The Secret Things of God, pp.194-195)
Didn’t see that truth coming, did you?
The guilt of this lifestyle is not the problem. The problem is what is happening inside of you.
If you’ve been in a series of sexual relationships, you’ve developed a habit you’re probably unaware of. After each breakup or hook up, you’ve forced yourself to just move on. You had to. But you did something else as well. You told yourself it didn’t matter. But it did. You lied to yourself. You didn’t let yourself feel what you should have felt. It would have been overwhelming. Every time you moved on, you added one more layer of protection around your heart. Then the guilt kicks in so you get stuck in that loop of lies instead of feeling the truth that you don’t matter.
But you do matter. You were there. Your whole body and soul. It was a big deal. And it is changing you to the core.
The deception of guilt and shame keeps you from this truth and thusly keeps you from growing into person you want to be.
Don’t let the guilt shape you. Let the truth shape you. Gain some vanity because you are a great catch. Your whole self is a great catch. You are worth more. When you have a little vanity, you stop contorting yourself to get into a relationship or to make a relationship work. You stop compromising your soul. And this is deeper than just the guilt that is bothering you.
p.s. You are a big deal.
(photo credit: Pexels.com, Rick Gailer)