5 Ways to Break Free from the Cycle of Guilt

Bryce Finnerty Leave a Comment

For most of my life I have felt extreme guilt about not being ‘good enough’ for God. I felt guilty for indulging too often, for not regularly attending church.  I’ve always considered myself a Christian yet quickly closed off thoughts of God because I felt so guilty for not being that ideal Christian. I wanted to belong to a church so much but thought I never would because I wasn’t perfect, and spot-on regular with being there.

Last summer was the darkest time of my life. I felt as though my life was over; that the choices I had made and people I had trusted had led me to a place where things would never improve.

I was guilty for making the easy decisions and pursuing the wrong goals. This created a lot of shame and regret in my life.
I was certain this was my lot in life and it was my own stupidity and trust that had led me there. I felt unworthy to everyone. I was guilty for not being vigilant. I was guilty for placing trust in the wrong people. I was guilty for making the easy decisions and pursuing the wrong goals. This created a lot of shame and regret in my life. That all changed when I started attending LifePoint. 

The Turning Point

I began attending LifePoint in a desperate attempt to find God, find hope. On July 19, 2015, Pastor Doug did a sermon on HELP. A key learning – a phrase we’ve all heard but that IS NOT found anywhere in the bible is, “God helps those who help themselves.” It also isn’t true that “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

He WILL give you more than you can handle but He always provides a door – a way out.
That was a life-changing day for me; a turning point. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel and realized that God’s help is comprehensive and comes without restrictions. The door God was showing me was one of forgiveness and that I am wrong to hate myself, for God loves me. I have a purpose. Help comes from God and it’s unconditional.

I Have a Purpose. 

You have gifts that God gave you. I have gifts that God gave me. In November a LifePoint message was about The Call: Rediscovering Your Purpose in Life. Imagine this: Ordinary people make a difference wherever they are. Right now I am in front of my computer typing this. If I give one person hope then perhaps that’s my calling for today. We all have this ability, this power, to make a difference. 

My Walk isn’t a sprint or an overnight success but rather many small things I can do to show gratitude, love, give hope, encourage, forgive and let go the shame and guilt.

Guilt and shame are obstacles in fulfilling purpose. Rather than looking at being a Christian as this impossible destination of perfection, I began to think about living a better week rather than trying to change my entire life in a single day. I have small wins every week. An example: One Sunday PG talked about keeping commitments. I arranged my impossibly long to-do list that week by commitments instead of tasks. I took care of the commitments first, and it felt, well. GOOD.  No guilt!

I’m not perfect – I am late keeping my commitment to write this blog! My Walk isn’t a sprint or an overnight success but rather many small things I can do to show gratitude, love, give hope, encourage, forgive and let go the shame and guilt. This is God’s grace, His gift to us. We simply have to reach out and grab it…then share it.

Eliminating Guilt: 5 Things I’ve Learned

Each week at LifePoint I learn something that helps me in a very practical way. I will never be without sin but don’t have to be guilty and avoid God. He simply wants to spend time with me. When I spend time with Him I have a better week. It’s as simple as that.

  1. Plant the right things. Doesn’t that sound better than “reap what you sow”? Plant love=get love. Give Hope=Get Hope.
  2. Forgive. I have been able to forgive two people in particular that have done things that caused me great harm. I was poisoning myself and those around me with my anger.
  3. Eliminate distractions and say no. I don’t know what my calling is yet but in order to realize it I must say no to good opportunities so I can YES to great ones. Be vigilant of your time! It’s a gift.
  4. Use God’s standards, not my own. When our ideals become expectations we are sure to become cynics. Love first – not judge.
  5. Grace and living guilt free is not about what you DON’T do. My traditional (and guilt-inducing) idea of a good Christian was about living in a perfect way. I now know it’s about what you DO that makes the difference; listening, forgiving, loving, planting and sowing the right things.

All You Need is LOVE – Not Guilt.

I’ve had numerous people tell me how happy I seem now. I’ve had a couple of people attend church with me; they’re curious about this place that has calmed me. Perhaps that’s part of my calling – helping others see Christianity as a joyful experience that isn’t about judgment and denial.

In the words of the Beatles, “It’s easy, all you need is love.”

Becoming a guilt-free Christian is easy. For me it has been about forgiving – myself and others – and loving more. It’s the WHY that keeps using going when the HOW gets hard; my initial WHY – my goal – was finding happiness and prosperity. My HOW was to do a little each week – planting by striving to put a smile on someone else’s face instead of pursuing my own happiness all of the time. Helping others to prosper – I now connect people in business that I think could help one another rather than connecting only for personal gain. And you know what? My WHY has changed. God wants us to love one another. My WHY is has changed to LOVE.

It’s about Love. How can you feel guilty when your intentions – your WHY – is about LOVE for God and others?

God Wants to Hang Out with Me! And You, Too.

I have found that by attending LifePoint as regularly as possible or watching the sermons online at lifepointplano.org/sermons when I can’t be there on Sunday, keep my spiritual tank more full. “More” full and not “full” because it’s up to me to do things that are congruent with whom I want – or am called – to be. God really wants to spend time with me.

When I hang with God by giving Him my time I am more prepared to weather life’s storms.
I need the inspiration, the framework, the message, the ideas that give me something firm to grasp on to, things I can do each week that sow the right things.  

If you are in a cycle of guilt remember that it’s easier to change your life by taking positive actions than it is to restrict yourself from all things you enjoy.  Calling an old friend and thanking them for being in your life or telling someone how much they mean to you brings joy, not guilt. Praying with a friend during hard times brings joy. Forgiving an enemy is difficult but freeing.

Do these small things that bring joy and not guilt and you’ll find that you are walking closer with God. You don’t have to come to Him as a pristine and perfect person but you’ll become a better person the more time you spend with Him. And that, my friends, is a great, guilt-free feeling.