From The Apologist


Jesus told us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The truth of the matter, we might have some ability to love, but it is almost impossible to love others if we fail to love self. Guilt is a killer of self. Guilt, real or not, establishes a large gap between our joyful soul and the dark regions of anxiety. Of course, this all makes sense. How can we love ourselves or others if there is a lack of forgiveness? In the absence of atonement, there only remains a grudge. In this case, a self-imposed grudge against the inner being, the inner core of an individual (our self). An individual then, by repetitive behavior patterns begins to turn terrible screws as a final premise of GUILTY with big letters. Those who carry that guilt are buried in a cylindrical route of attempts only to always fall short of a goal. And why is this? The reason is that absolution will never occur until prior unresolved conflicts and guilt are resolved.
Once a person feels they don’t measure up, then the calamity of failures and excuses ensue. The person fails to try as hard anymore for the end result is seen always as the same—this is a perpetual cycle of YOU LOSE.
Another way to cope with the strong feelings of guilt is to turn inward. Some become cold, deadened and numb to self and others around them. Children at a very young age are susceptible to this as they possess high expectations of pleasing adults through their behavior. If the failure is perceived to be extreme or unrecoverable, then these conflicts are carried over to adulthood whereas the character defect actually grows and festers. My guess about Tom, in your example, is that this is not the first time Tom failed to face failure, conflict and resolution. In fact, my assumption would be that Tom is an old pro about eluding personal responsibility.
Thus, what we are actually confronting are the tenets of character. Are we able to face up to our behaviors and responsibilities or not? Are we avoidance driven or justice driven? Are we of the good stuff, the good stock that goes ahead with goodness, or are we that cloud of doom with a forever type of excuse of our actions.
For the thousands of prisoners I’ve spoken, all have expressed regret. Those that are successful, once released are those who carry their sense of guilt and atonement beyond the gates of prison and into regular society. Once in peril most of us vow all types of vows to God to get us out of a jam. However, once we are out of the predicament and back into our regular routine, most vows go by the wayside. Another name for this for the prisoner is jailhouse religion. For most, once out of jail, the faith, that burst of insight and matters of atonement are over. It is back to the same old approach to life once again.
None of this of course eradicates the need for forgiveness. However, for those lucky few who embrace the need for forgiveness are generally surprised at least one of the benefits of being forgiven. One major benefit of being forgiven is to be accepted.
As much as most of us would deny this, yes, we want to be accepted. In total forgiveness, we are accepted by Christ, by our creator, our self and by our fellow man. Once we have come to this apex in our life, we probably discover that the world as a whole is a whole lot nicer, warmer, joyful and good in spite of whatever bad and evil abounds.
I can’t really imagine going to my grave with a host of unforgiven transgressions. Personally, my own spirit-man inside me is unable to carry that type of burden. I am frail and weak and unable to operate unless I have been freed from such penalty. As much as I am the sum total of my thoughts, feelings and actions, I also have that great need of personal self acceptance. And with that virtue under my belt, I am also able to yield to my mistakes and forgive those around me as well.

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