Guilt and Gratitude

Guilt and Gratitude


In the court system we are innocent until proven guilty. Yet, I suspect it is more commonly the human experience to be guilty in our hearts until we prove to ourselves that we are innocent.

It is common to joke about  “Catholic guilt.” I didn’t grow up Catholic, I grew up a Southern Baptist preacher’s daughter. So I grew up with Baptist guilt. Now I don’t believe that was the intention of the religious community or teachers I grew up in, that was just how I interpreted the teachings. And pardon me if I don’t see it as funny.

What I heard was, if you have the basic necessities, plus a healthy dose of talent and an environment that cultivates your development, you are damn lucky. But there was a harshness to it .I felt the underlying message was I wasn’t supposed to cultivate and shine those talents.

Some part of me felt that shining my light, I would make other people feel insecure. When I get right down to it, there was a huge seed of unworthiness behind that guilt. Perhaps I took what could have been a healthy dose of guilt, and made it shame.

In Brene Brown’s book, The Gift of Imperfection, she summarizes the experience of shame blocks us form our worthiness, makes us unforgivably flawed. Guilt says we did something bad, but shame says, we are bad. Shame erodes the ability to see our innocence and sense of worth. Guilty until proven innocent.

Turns out we are way harder on ourselves that the court. And that exhausting fight to prove our worthiness and make up for our past errors, is arguably how we spend most, if not all of our life. It sure kept me stuck in unhealthy, destructive behaviors for years. The sadness I feel for amount of life I missed running from myself, breaks my heart.

But I do recall another message and song growing up that goes something like this; This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine….”.

What my personal experience has taught me is that if I fear my light, or feel shame about who I am, it hardens my heart from seeing what blessings are underneath. What I know now is that shining my light, only empowers others to shine their own light. Light attracts light.

If you struggle with shame as I did and still do, join me and let go,allow your light to shine. I promise you, beneath that layer of shame, your blessings and gifts are waiting. When you can fully embrace your blessings and gifts, you will know your purpose.  You will feel compelled to help others because your actions will come from a place of abundance. You will finally see what lies inside of you can not be contained, it must be shared.

Feel the sadness and grief beneath. Grieve  for your tireless efforts and many years  spent trying to measure up. Let your heart shatter. See that beneath your flaws and seeds of unworthiness, is an innocent desire to love and be loved; a natural seeking to heal and be healed. Allow yourself to accept your unique gifts and beauty. Feel so beautiful you overflow. Love yourself so much you can not help but ooze your love onto others. Realize you are not only good enough,  but more than enough. You have reached your I saturation point and now are compelled to go saturate others.

And when you get lost from time to time, look up and see your compass:

“The sun never says to the earth, ‘You owe me.’ Look what happens with a love like that. It lights up the whole sky.”

– Hafiz