Guilty Feelings to Self Esteem

Reading Level: Impassioned

How much does guilt and self rejection hold you back from what is most important to you in life?

Do guilty feelings keep you from confidence, happiness, and success? Feelings of guilt or self rejection will usually hold you back from most of what you desire out of life unless you choose to change those mindsets and bring restoration to your confidence and self esteem.

I have been enjoying a book by Brennan Manning called, Abba’s Child; it was a recent gift from a friend. In the beginning of the book, he discusses his own path to overcoming shame and self rejection. He is aware that his own past experiences are so common in the human experience that many people will benefit from the results of his journey to self acceptance and value.

One of the main behaviors that cause a person to live with guilt and self rejection is the habit of projecting his or her feelings of self onto God.

The emotional weight is great when one feels shame or self disapproval of past choices, decisions, or just the person that you are. How much greater is that weight when one convinces himself that his Heavenly Father, his Creator, the most phenomenal being in the universe thinks all the same negative, condemning thoughts about him? Yet, this is a typical thought pattern in the human experience, though we are usually unaware that this is what we are doing.

Usually included in these projected thoughts is the idea that life’s good and bad times signal God’s approval or rejection.

As Manning says, it is easy to feel loved by God when life is going well, all your support systems are in place, and hence, your self acceptance is good; however, when dreams are shattered or failures take place, your guilt and self rejection are often projected onto God. In your mind, He appears “fickle and unpredictable.” When something good takes place, you feel that you have His love and approval. When a bad event happens, you think it is a sign of His disapproval and rejection of you as a person worth being loved. (1)

Manning has a beautiful, rather tongue-in-cheek statement about projecting one’s own self image onto God’s view of you:

We cannot assume that He feels about us the way we feel about ourselves unless we love ourselves compassionately, intensely, and freely…God is relentlessly tender and compassionate toward us, just as we are, not in spite of our sins and faults, but with them. Though God does not condone evil, He does not withhold His love because there is evil in us.” (2)

Choosing to come out of hiding in your spiritual relationship opens the doors to endless possibilities in spiritual intimacy.

Manning brings to the forefront 2 demonstrations of God’s own desire that failure and guilt not keep a person from a loving relationship with Him. One illustration is that of the father character in the Parable of the Prodigal Son; he ran to welcome home the son who returned after ruining his life. Jesus told the parable to illustrate God’s own view and subsequent actions toward us of redemptive love. The other example is historical. In the fall of mankind, Adam and Eve were hiding in shame and guilt from their daily time of loving relationship and conversation with Father God. God, even knowing their failures, came seeking Adam and Eve to continue a loving relationship with them. (3) Manning paraphrases the thoughts of God to end our self hatred:

Acknowledge and accept who I want to be for you: a Savior of boundless compassion, infinite patience, unbearable forgiveness, and love that keeps no score of wrongs. Quit projecting onto Me your own feelings about yourself. At this moment your life is a bruised reed and I will not crush it, a smoldering wick and I will not quench it. You are in a safe place. (3)


Releasing yourself from the need of perfectionism results in a blissful state of safety with self and God.

Like many religious people, Manning says he proclaimed God’s unconditional love for years, convicted in his head but never convinced in his heart. He only felt safe in his relationship with God when he saw himself as successful in being generous, noble, loving—perfect! Once he chose to end the negative projections onto God and release the need for perfectionism, Manning was able to internalize and finally feel God’s unrelenting love. Here is a great quote on his new sense of safety:

To feel safe is to…feel liked and accepted, not having to hide anymore and distract myself with books, television, movies, ice cream, shallow conversation…no need to impress. Unself-conscious, calm, unafraid, loved, valued. (4)

Rather than carrying guilt, one can strive to echo the apostle Paul’s feelings in 2 Cor.12:9, “I shall be very happy to make my weak nesses my special boast so thaqt the power of Christ may stay over me.”

Manning’s conclusion is that a “sense of safety with God results in a sense of safety with self,” with all your noble points and failures, strengths and weaknesses. Knowing you exist in a safe loving relationship with Father God, the most phenomenal being in the universe, realize there are now no limits to confidence, happiness, dreams, and success you can achieve!

Synopsis of concepts are from Brennan Manning’s “Abba’s Child,” ISBN-13: 978-1-57683-334-6
1. pg.21,pg.19
2. pp.19-20
3. pg.22
4. pg.27

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