We talk about some very sensitive issues at the Ruth Institute: sex, abortion, divorce. I have noticed that sometimes, peoples’ reactions are all out of proportion to what we actually said. Many times, I have wondered to myself, “What accounts for this extreme reaction?”
Without jumping to an overly broad conclusion, let me suggest that sometimes, the answer is A Guilty Conscience. The person is reacting, not to what I said, but to some deeper, more complicated feelings.
When I reflect on my own situation, I can definitely relate to this. A Guilty Conscience is almost intolerable. We humans desire to think well of ourselves. This fact of the human condition should be observable to anyone. When we do something that violates our own moral code, whatever that may be, we feel bad.
That bad feeling, I submit, could be the very thing that helps us do a course-correction. We change our behavior so we don’t have that bad feeling. That is how it works with the body, after all. We burn our fingers on the stove. We instantly pull back. We learn not to touch hot stoves.
But in the moral order, we are more complex. We do indeed withdraw from a moral wrong. But we do not necessarily do an automatic course-correction.
Sometimes, we withdraw by avoiding the topic altogether.
We medicate ourselves with substances, activities and busy-ness. We change the subject. And, always a favorite tactic: we blame someone else. We blame the person closest at hand, a family member for instance. We blame the person who told us that we had done something
wrong or hurtful.
There are a number of problems with this strategy. 1. It isn’t the truth. 2. We keep doing mean and stupid stuff and 3. We are impossible to live with.
So let me make a suggestion to try out, the next time you feel a tinge of guilt.
Set a timer for five minutes. Sit with the feeling for five minutes. Do not medicate the feeling away with a substance or an activity. Do not lash out at the person or situation that prompted the guilty feeling. Do not make excuses or offer explanations. Do not change the subject. Do not attempt to reassure yourself with the idea that there is no such thing as right and wrong. If you really believed that, you would not be pricked by the idea that you might have done something wrong. You could swat it away like a fly, an annoyance, nothing more.
While you are sitting there with the thought that you have done something against your own value system, allow yourself to feel your imperfection, your incompleteness, your finiteness. And just repeat this phrase. “I am not perfect. I am not God. God is God. Being imperfect is part of being human. I am perfectly imperfect.”
See if these affirmations help you address the underlying problem for which you feel guilty. Five minutes. That’s all I’m asking.
When the timer goes off, go ahead and do whatever you think best.
The Ruth Institute is dedicated to Inspiring the Survivors of the Sexual Revolution. Join the conversation by Liking our Facebook page.
Seeing that a friend had a “No Soliciting” sign on her door, I decided to get one of my own, as I get knocks far too frequently for my liking. I am almost never presentable, (See “Mommy goes out on the town, before and after“) which makes these regrettable encounters all the worse, for the other person.
So even though I had the sign, it wasn’t yet up in the window of the door when some gentleman, probably from a solar panel company who was “doing work on others houses in my neighborhood,” as they always somehow seem to be, showed up.
Before I even let him speak I said, Read more…
In this story from New Zealand, two male friends (who are not gay, by the way) are about to marry each other. Part of their motive:
Engineering student Mr. McIntosh, 23, and teacher Mr. McCormick, 24, will tie the knot to win a “The Edge” radio station competition and a trip to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England.
Also, they really like each other. They have been best buds since they were six years old. They expect the marriage to last at least 2 years. Marriage has been an “easy in, easy out” proposition throughout the industrialized world since the advent of no-fault divorce. So why shouldn’t these guys get married for a chance to win a cool prize?
Gay rights groups are offended.
Otago University Students’ Association Queer Support coordinator Neill Ballantyne, of Dunedin, said the wedding was an “insult” because marriage equality was a “hard fought” battle for gay people. “Something like this trivializes what we fought for.”
Sorry Neill. No go. You evidently did not realize that when you changed the law, you changed it for everyone. Two men can get married for any reason they want. The law does not require them to prove that they are actually “gay,” or that they “love each Read more…
A note from a Facebook friend prompted me to reflect on family secrets and their potentially toxic impact on relationships.
I want you to know why I have not responded to your call to “share our stories.” I cannot tell the whole of my story until some in it are no longer living- I guess we all keep our secrets to some extent. I just wanted to let you know I’m paying attention, even if there is no evidence of it. Keep the faith!!
Here is my response to her:
Thank you my friend. This means a lot to me. I do not know that I would speak out so boldly, if my own parents were still living.
Having said that, let me encourage you to consider this:
Family secrets can be poisonous. Be on the lookout for situations where hidden information is burdening someone unnecessarily. Sharing parts of your story could be very healing for younger members of your family.
Sometimes, younger family members have suspicions about some Forbidden Topic. No one is willing to talk about the subject at all. The suspicions never get confirmed or denied. The Read more…
I recently got this message from a Facebook friend.
Just so you know, I would “like” and “share” all the divorce stories that you’re posting- only it would compromise some family relationships I have that I am responsible for. God is good and has afforded much forgiveness and reconciliation- I do not want to challenge their faith or give away hard earned ground. I just wanted to let you know I’m paying attention, even if there is no evidence of it. That means others are probably doing the same. Keep the faith!!
Here is my response to her. What do you think about this issue?
Thank you my friend. This means a lot to me. I hope you are right that others are quietly paying attention.
I sense that you are concerned that your loved ones are not ready to look too closely at the harms their divorces caused others. You want to keep them close to you and to God. You do not want to drive them away with more reality than they can stand.
I understand. You may very well be correct about this in this particular instance. I trust your judgment.
I’m just guessing here, but maybe this is a situation of a divorce now regretted? Or a divorce that caused harm to others, perhaps a child, and that looking at that harm would be too Read more…
This was written by Mary Summerhays, of the organization, Celebration of Marriage
I’m actually an artist, not an activist. I paint themes about gender and stumbled upon some youtube videos of a fascinating speaker on the subject- Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse. I was instantly hooked. This video had my jaw on the floor. I continued to watch everything I could find, Including this 4 part series, and finally this one, that brought me to tears. I could no longer sit still. Read more…
See more and show your support by liking the Stand for the Family facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/
You can also visit the website here: www.stand4family.org.