Guilt is a Waste of Time
What to spend time on instead ...
The relationship was clearly over, but still … I felt guilty.
At that time, my partner and I had been together for eight years, and she had spent the last three of those years struggling with ongoing health issues that appeared to be chronic. Shortly after we finalized our split, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The advancement of the disease over the years left her a quadriplegic and she died just a few months ago at the age of 53.
As her illness slowly robbed her of her mobility and all the things she loved to do, my guilt increased. Here I was, healthy and moving forward in my life as she struggled to live on her own and handle the most basic of tasks. Finally, a good friend helped me realize that my guilt was a waste of time.
"You can't make yourself sick enough to make her well," she told me. "You can't feel guilty enough to make the past any different."
Staying with her out of guilt, and not love, would have only made things worse for both of us. I had made the right decision at the time to leave. It was the only decision that felt right. I helped her as best I could in those ensuing years, but she asked for very little, relying on other friends and disability benefits to sustain her. We let each other go.
I was blessed to spend an afternoon with her about a month or so before she passed, and I apologized again for what I saw as my shortcomings. There was nothing to forgive, she told me, and finally I believed her.
Guilt is a waste of time. I don't care what it is you think you should feel guilty for, you can't be guilty enough to make the past any different. Whatever happened, happened, and what happens now is totally up to you. You're welcome to keep crucifying yourself on the cross of guilt, or you can forgive yourself and move on.
As one of my teachers, Kyle Cease, said recently, "Every decision you made and everything you did in the past was at the highest awareness you had in that moment, which is why guilt is a waste of time."
I made the decision to end that relationship and not go back when my ex-partner's illness progressed with the highest awareness I had in that moment. She also made her decisions with her highest awareness. There's no guilt or blame for anyone, there's only two people doing their best in that messy and heartbreaking moment.
Guilt only keeps us stuck in the past – perseverating on things we cannot change or undo. Guilt, according to A Course in Miracles, guarantees the ego's continuity, because it has no life without guilt, therefore, it can only be overcome and transformed by your forgiveness of yourself.
A Course calls the crucifixion – those moments where we torture ourselves with guilt – "the last useless journey," so I invite you to look closely at whatever it is you feel guilty about in this moment. No matter how awful you feel about something in the past, now is the time to cut yourself some slack. You did the best you could with what you had in that moment. You cannot go back and change anything, and arguing with the past only keeps the pain alive. Instead, let it go, and be thankful for the lessons that are helping you make better choices now.
Instead of wasting your time feeling guilty, spend time remembering who you are – a beloved child of God who is learning new lessons every day and making better and better choices based on ever higher and higher levels of consciousness.
Focusing on love and forgiveness for yourself is never a waste of time. It's how we're meant to spend each moment, because as we heal our guilt, the guilt and suffering of the whole world is gently healed as well. That is time well spent.
Your turn: Where are you holding on to guilt? What keeps you from releasing it?
Are you enjoy The Motley Mystic? If so, why not share it with your friends? It’s free to subscribe!
Take 20 with Candace
This week’s Take 20 is from Jubilee! Circle's Easter celebration from May 8, 2022: “The Barrier of Love.”
If you wish to support my work, please consider making a donation to Jubilee! Circle.
Want to learn more about A Course in Miracles?
Jubilee! Circle hosts an informal discussion group about A Course in Miracles every Wednesday night at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. If you’re in the Columbia, SC area, you can join us in-person at 6729 Two Notch Road, Ste. 70 in Columbia. If you’re anywhere else in the world, join us by Zoom using the link below. Whether you’re new to ACIM, or have been studying it for years, this is a low-pressure, friendly environment to learn more and grow together! Join us:
You can now read The Motley Mystic and all your favorite Substack authors through their new app! Download it today.
About the Motley Mystic:
The Motley Mystic is an online community for people who have realized that the truth speaks with many voices. There is no one religion, philosophy, institution or dogma that captures the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. No one needs to swear allegiance to one line of thought or belief to discern Truth, because Love is the only thing that’s real. That’s what we explore at the Motley Mystic - all the tools and strategies we need to remove our barriers to Love and live fully as our true, Divine Self.
Candace Chellew is the founder of Motley Mystic as well Jubilee! Circle, an interfaith spiritual community in Columbia, S.C. She is also the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians published in 2008 by Jossey-Bass and the founder and senior editor emeritus of Whosoever: An Online Magazine for LGBTQ People of Faith. She is also a musician and avid animal lover.
Thanks for reading Motley Mystic! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.