What is the difference between “guilt” and “shame”?
I have a hunch that some folks resist Lent because they don’t appreciate the profound difference between guilt and shame.
Guilt is about wrong actions and attitudes we need to change, to repent of — that’s the work of Lent. But shame is so different! Shame attacks our very being and resists reflective thought and change. Appropriate guilt provides a positive gut-check in our moral lives. But shame is like a murky oil slick that darkens our relationships, kills off creativity, and suffocates joy.
This week we continue to follow Jesus toward Jerusalem. He tells two parables – about shame and joy. In these two simple stories Jesus unmasks the amorphous and crippling dimensions of shame, from which shame’s victims cannot save themselves.
But Jesus shows, in these stories and his own life and death, that God’s love can save us from shame.