“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.”
– Leonardo Da Vinci –
Recently, I have been working with a couple over the suicide of their child. There was no note. There was no rhyme or reason. No foreshadowing. The parents utterly destroyed. Our time together consists of strange companions: laughter and joy at remembering, weeping and grief at knowing there will be no more memories made. They blame themselves unnecessarily for things beyond their control.
I want you to think deeply about your life. Specifically, about the presence of deep guilt in your life. I explain guilt as arising from transgressions against one’s self . This powerful kind of guilt is born from deep regret. A regret of a life not fully lived, of untouched possibilities within one’s self. This is called, “existential guilt” – guilt about what we have, or have not done, with our existence.
Guilt can be defined as a sense of unused life.
Excuses melt under the searing heat of this kind of guilt. Comfortable clichés such as, “I didn’t mean it,” “I’ll get to it later,” “It was an accident,” are effortlessly swept away in the face of existential guilt. Guilt produces shame, and if we do not accept responsibility for ourselves we will forever be held as prisoners; slaves on a plantation of our own making.
Guilt is closely related to responsibility and possibility. People may feel guilty because they feel a sense of “being responsible for” something. They feel they are the cause. These people feel they are the author of some unspeakable evil or some great calamity. Guilt responsibility flows from a real and serious wrongdoing, most often against another person. When we feel guilty it may be due to the unlived life inside of us.
Guilt is related to possibility in that when your conscience prods you in a certain direction, you listen. When we do not listen to our conscience, nothing will change, and we do not have the possibility of anything getting better. We are guilty to the extent that we have failed to act upon the possibility we know we ought to have acted upon. When we deny possibilities to better our lives and the lives of those around us by failing to do right, the result is guilt. And guilt when full-grown leads to despair.
If guilt can be responsible for our destruction, responsibility can lead us to redemption. God asks each of us to make of ourselves what we ought to. Possibly the best way of dealing with guilt, guilt from the violation of another or from ourselves, is through atonement. Guilt causes us to look backward, but we must live life forward. In this way we can only atone for the past by altering the future.
How do we alter our future? How can we be rid of the guilt in our lives? We make the decision to change. We accept the responsibility of the change. The decision must be ours alone. Delegating the decision to someone else strips the choice of its power to heal. Accepting responsibility introduces us to things about ourselves we would rather not admit. Choose to grow anyway. Forge the opinion of yourself you want from the things in your life you don’t.
When we release ourselves of guilt we become free. Not free in the sense that we are free to do what we want, but free in the sense that we are able to do as we ought. Not free from the various circumstances of our life, but free to interact with the circumstances that confront us. We are free to shape our own character, and we are responsible for what we shape ourselves into.
Sometimes I will ask my clients a troubling question: “Imagine that we have not seen each other for three years. Suddenly, we run into one another at a coffee shop and I ask, ‘What new regrets have you accumulated?’ What would you say? How would you answer me?” Work through the past guilt that plagues your thoughts, and in so doing you will fashion a regret-free future.
 Tillich, P., 1952. The Courage To Be. Yale University Press. New Haven, CT.
 Yalom, I.D., 1980. Existential Psychotherapy. Basic Books. New York, NY.
 Frankl, V.E., 1969. The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy. Penguin Books. New York, NY.
It’s the Month of Giving at Jersey Mike’s Subs!
Join Jersey Mike’s in Blue Springs as they raise funds for Peace Partnership to help families in need! Last year, we raised $8,000 – help us reach this year’s goal of $10,000!
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28
100% of sales donated all day to Peace Partnership!
Pre-order lunch/dinner here – online or .pdf
Or, call in your pre-sale order to 816-399-0530.
Delivery available for orders over $125.
Orders over $125 will also receive two tickets to the KC Mavericks for each lunch ordered (while supplies last)!
Spread the word by sharing our Facebook event with your friends
Other Jersey Mike’s specials throughout the month:
Tuesday, March 13
Donate $3, get a free sub! (Stop by Peace Partnership’s office for coupon)
Any size donation enters you to win a KC Mavericks suite for 17 people on March 18
$5 Raffle (no limit on entries in our drawing):
– 4 KC Royals tickets & parking
– KC Mavericks Prize Pack (8 tickets, 1 jersey, 8 Mavs shirts, 8 pucks, 1 ECHL All Star game shirt)
(Enter raffle in store or through pre-sale order form – links above)
We are so grateful to all of our AMAZING partners! Your gifts are invaluable as we partner together to offer the tools to implement change in the lives of our clients. Thank you!
Special thanks go out this month to:
- Everyone who joined us for Peace Partnership night at the Kansas City Mavericks! We are so grateful for the individuals and businesses who purchased tickets, our volunteers who helped man the chuck-a-puck booth, and for our partnership with the Kansas City Mavericks!
- Claudia’s Closet spent the month focused on Peace Partnership and our work in the community. Thank you for your huge heart for others! A big thanks to everyone that participated in their events throughout the month of February.
- Matt and Kristy Newton, we appreciate your renewed support.
- Thank you to Cynthia Eskina for your belief and support of all we do.
- To our church partner, Abundant Life, we are grateful for your continued partnership and generosity.
- Rick and Jan Britton, your unbelievable partnership continues to bring peace and hope to families and children. Thank you.
If you are interested in finding out how you can become a Peace Partner this year, don’t miss the chance to get involved. Please click on the link below to become a Partner. To host an event or take part in any of our upcoming activities, contact our Director of Development, Amy Henderson at 816-399-0530 or: firstname.lastname@example.org.