Huffington Post offers a very insightful article about dealing with guilt and escaping its clutches. (Huff Po =— http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/01/dealing-with-guilt-iyanla-vanzant_n_3472594.html)
How do we let go of any emotion that has tyrannized us such as guilt has. Sure, I accept the notion of the forgiveness of God offered in the story of Jesus, for example. But that comes to us first as a rational, conceptual “idea” and does not necessarily burrow into the depths of the heart where the “real” guilt abides; for the “real” guilt is in the affective domain which controls how we use our rational mind. Thus, our guilt can make us “guilty” believers of any stripe which will always make us so fanatical and legalistic that people who come across us will want to put up the “sign of the cross” when we approach and run away. For, guilt-ridden faith offers no “human” quality and therefore has no “godly” quality to it. It is just an “idea” devoid of any experience; or, better yet, it is an “idea” devoid of any Spirit, as in the “letter of the law killeth but the Spirit maketh alive.”
Guilt so often is so intrinsic to our being that we can’t fathom living without it. Letting it go would make us feel like a duck out of water or a fish on dry land. It would be scary and even fatal in a sense in that our ego would definitely be threatened by the loss of this core element which allows it to cohere. My dear friend, brother, spiritual mentor, and soul mate, Bill Shakespeare said it so eloquently, noting in Hamlet that we would prefer to “cling to those ills that we have, than fly to others that we know not of.” Our guilt is so comforting because it is the only thing that we have ever known. And, we are validated daily for living in this guilt as it is guilt (and shame) that binds our world together in the dog-and-pony show that the Hindus’ call Maya and fundamentalist American Christians call, “Well, it’s just the way things are.” And many faiths depend on guilt as without guilt attendance of their churches, synagogues, and mosques might decline, worship palaces fall into disrepair, clergy go underpaid or unemployed, and its constituents left with the challenge of dealing with Reality…which always requires faith in a Beyond which I often label our Source. And, I am of course referring to a transcendent deity who is, paradoxically, immanent; and the appreciation of this powerful truth requires ability and a willingness to hold contradictory notions in the mind at the same time. In other words, this notion “ain’t makin’ no sense” to many people and it never will!
But, there is always “method to our madness,” individually and collectively. The best we can ever do is muddle through and believe fervently that there is a “wisdom that doeth shape our ends, rough hew them how we may.” (Last two quotes from “Bill”)