We have all said or done something at some point in our lives that we've regretted. Feelings of remorse can go a long way in helping us do better next time. But what if we can't seem to get past our guilty feelings? Or worse yet, what if we believe that we're basically sinners anyway - that an evil nature is part of who we are?
Glad to say, there is help for anyone harboring such feelings. I've found healing of guilty feelings through understanding more and more the spiritual truths contained in the Bible.
Many people believe themselves to be inherently flawed because the sins of Adam and Eve are said to have separated us all from God and His kindness. The teachings of Christ Jesus, however, show that we don't have to live our lives feeling guilty - that we can awake to our God-given innocence, be truly free of condemnation, and be better persons.
Many Bible scholars agree that there are two distinct documents contained in the book of Genesis. Indeed, chapter one says: "God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.... And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good" (verses 27, 31). Then the second chapter depicts the Lord God as creating man again, this time from the dust of the ground. The story of Adam and Eve continues with the temptation and disobedience of the pair, and their subsequent punishment and banishment from Paradise.
St. Paul referred to this, declaring to the Romans: "As by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's [Adam's] disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Christ Jesus] shall many be made righteous" (Romans 5:18, 19). And the textbook of Christian Science, written by Mary Baker Eddy in 1875, says, "Anybody, who is able to perceive the incongruity between God's idea and poor humanity, ought to be able to discern the distinction (made by Christian Science) between God's man, made in His image, and the sinning race of Adam" ("Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures, Pg. 345).
Which account of creation are you going to accept? The one that says you're the pure image and likeness of God is the one that can be proved true. It involves healing. Jesus' mission here on earth was to heal, to awaken us to our true, undefiled nature as God's children. This awakening is an important step for anyone interested in overcoming the tendency toward guilty feelings. We can understand that we are spiritual, that our true nature is innocent and guiltless. No one is without opportunities to prove this in his or her own life!
I recall an incident in which I felt very guilty about something I had said to someone. It had been taken the wrong way. Even after apologizing for my remark, even after an acceptance of the apology, I still felt bad for many days. I just couldn't stop replaying my words in my head.
Then one day I came across this paragraph from Mrs. Eddy's autobiographical book: "It is well to know, dear reader, that our material, mortal history is but the record of dreams, not of man's real existence, and the dream has no place in the Science of being. It is 'as a tale that is told,' and 'as the shadow when it declineth.' The heavenly intent of earth's shadows is to chasten the affections, to rebuke human consciousness and turn it gladly from a material, false sense of life and happiness, to spiritual joy and true estimate of being" ("Retrospection and Introspection," Pg. 21).
This passage glowed with new meaning! I saw that my guilt and rehearsing of the conversation did not have any bearing on my true identity, which is spiritual. With that, I had no further problems with ruminating or guilt.
If you are agonizing over feelings of guilt, your answer lies in seeing that God has made you innocent and guiltless. This can be proved by learning of your spiritual nature. If we all understood the truth of our purity as children of one God, think how this would free us to go forward in our lives - and think what it would do for healing the world of its ills!
You can find in-depth articles on Christian Science in a monthly magazine, The Christian Science Journal.