Summary: Guilt just flows from the verses of this particular passage. It describes functional guilt and value guilt and shows us in the end how to use value guilt in our lives.
INTRODUCTION… Baby in the Bouncy Seat (p)
When Abigail was about six months old (if I remember correctly), I worked overnight from 10:00pm to 8:00am at a children’s home. Kelly worked as a teacher during the day and took care of Abigail during the evenings and I worked at night and took care of her during the day. I remember getting home one morning and I was fixing us breakfast… her bottle and my cereal. We had a small seat which I put Abigail in often and I set it on the counter while I made everything we needed. I was tired and was thankful that at around 10am the baby would nap because I would finally get to sleep.
I turned by back to finish heating up the bottle and I hear this loud crack and screaming. I turn around and Abigail had used her inhuman strength to rock forward and fall in the chair face first onto the concrete floor. I knew at that moment I had ruined my child. I quickly but firmly held her head still and placed her in the front seat of the car. We lived in the middle of the Smokey Mountains and the closest hospital was about 30 minutes away. I raced ever so gently to the hospital. She screamed uncontrollably, as did I, the whole drive to the hospital. I kept her as still as I could, but she wasn’t doing much but screaming anyway. We arrived at the ER and I explained to the nurse on duty what had happened. I was obviously upset and Abigail was screaming.
The nurse immediately got us to triage and I laid the baby on the examination table. The moment the doctor walked into the examination room, the baby stopped crying and started to act all cute and fine. The doctor walked in to see a normal baby on the table with me describing a horrific event which probably could have left this child paralyzed, but she was just fine. She laughed at the doctor and acted all cute. She checked out just fine and had no marks or bruises or issues of any kind.
I felt extremely guilty. My guilt overwhelmed me as I had to explain to Kelly on the drive back home what had happened. Yes I almost broke our first child. Yes I learned my lesson. That guilt from that day made me think twice or three times what I allowed my children to do because I think that parents should be the first line of safety for their children.
Guilt is a complicated emotion that can be both positive and negative in our lives. An old psychology textbook I have on the shelves in my office does not define “guilt” very well, but does describe that “guilt develops in connection with the motive to live up to standards” (Kagan and Havemann, 1968 pg 540). Standards exists inside ourselves and outside of us and when we do not meet those standards, we feel guilty. In the story I just told you, I failed to live up to what I consider the standard of a good father in keeping my daughter safe and healthy. So what is guilt? It is an emotion. We would probably classify it as a negative emotion that occurs because of negative actions, negative thoughts, and other negative emotions. In the New Testament, in verses like John 9:41 and John 16:8, “guilt” is at times used in place of the word “sin.” Guilt then is a natural response to not meeting some kind of standard.