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Guilt and shame are the natural result when we do something bad that we later regret. And these can be good experiences depending on how we handle them. Used well, this becomes a godly sorrow that motivates us to change our ways.

While no one likes feeling bad, feeling bad is not always a bad thing. In fact, it’s often a very useful signal alerting us to things that need attention in our life.

For instance, of course we feel bad when we disappoint a loved one or engage in behaviors we’re now ashamed of. And, when used well, these bad feelings encourage us to make amends and correct our undesirable actions.

The feelings themselves are not bad.  But it’s what we do with them that makes a difference.

For example, it’s easy to spiral into self-loathing and darkness when we get stuck just ruminating on what we’ve done wrong. We can’t see passed our past mistakes and have come to believe this will forever be the defining flaw in our story.

And when we can’t forgive ourselves, it’s hard to believe others will truly see us as worthy of love and belonging as well. This then leads us into hiding and keeping others at arms-length – fearing they will eventually reject us if they knew who we really were.

And if we’re going to be rejected in the end, we feel we might as well just keep doing what we’ve always done.

On the other hand, godly sorrow doesn’t lessen any of the initial bad feelings, but it doesn’t let these feelings be the end of the story either.

We’re convicted by the Spirit to pursue a better way and not keep causing the same harm.

And we’re able to do this as we live in the hope of God’s story of redemption – putting our faith into practice and risking loving again, even in the face of uncertainties.

When feeling bad gets the best of us we end up being more depressed, isolated, and alone. But godly sorrow opens the door for a life of renewed purpose, connection, and beauty.

In the end, don’t run from feeling bad. But let godly sorrow motivate you to change toward the better.

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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