Shame and Regret: Why Do We Feel This Way?
The feelings of shame and regret can be agonizing and destructive. Shame is an emotion that originates in fear, particularly fear of how others view us. It is a feeling that can be conquered. Regret is a feeling of sorrow and may prompt apologies. Either can become a game of “what ifs”—what if I hadn’t…, what if I had only…, what if I had just…
What is shame? What is regret?
Shame And Regret: What Does The Bible Say?
Shame and regret are addressed in several verses in the Bible. Perhaps one of the most notable is found in Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Once a person accepts Jesus as Savior, God does not condemn us for any past sins; they are forgotten and forgiven forever.2 Jesus Christ has paid the debt for us.
2 Corinthians 5:17 also addresses the emotion of regret. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” God provides the way to reconciliation with Himself because no matter what our past mistakes, or the most horrible of sins we have committed, He is a forgiving God who loves us and wants us to love Him. This provision was given by Jesus’ death and His resurrection.
Repentance brings about God’s forgiveness by grace (God’s gift of divine favor). He makes us a new person, a new creation.
Shame and Regret: No Need To Struggle
Shame and regret can be huge motivators in society. They are useful in setting the parameters for socially acceptable behaviors and to deter destruction of a common way of life. In other words, using these emotions on an individual, group, or culture can be useful in disgracing one into proper behaviors. Although they are often used, they should not be necessary.
Some religions and cults are also guilty of this ploy. Religious leaders use it on their members to manipulate behavior. Members use shame and regret on each other. They inflict a “judgment” of sorts on each other with a “your sin is worse than my sin” attitude. This sets the inner circle acceptance or rejection of another. Doctrines are sometimes used to instill regrets or fears about acceptance into God’s Kingdom.
This is not God’s way! God wants us to know that we are loved, forgiven, and wholly accepted by Him. The story of Peter is a good example of this. Though he denied Jesus three times, he was forgiven and highly instrumental as one of the founding fathers of the Christian church.
God wants us to know that no matter how broken or sinful we have been, He can heal us and change us into a new person with no shame and no regret.