Set Free From Guilt

By Teresa Tierney © 2012

Recently a friend suffered a major depressive episode that required hospitalization. In the midst of several life altering events, she lost her job and her husband began to hound her to find a new one. He admitted he had been pretty hard on her and was convinced it was his fault she had to be hospitalized. I found myself agreeing with him.

One of the hardest times for me to forgive is when people I care about have been hurt. My desire to defend them or protect them from further hurt keeps me from recognizing the need to forgive. Perhaps I think by taking “their side” they will feel less hurt. Not true. Even with “wonderful me” in their corner, they are still hurting. And if I am in their corner, supporting their anger instead of encouraging forgiveness, I am doing more harm than good.

The Bible is clear: If I want to be forgiven, I must also forgive (see Mark 11:25), but I couldn’t imagine how I would forgive this man.

When I admitted this during my prayer time, God helped me see my friend’s depression was not caused by one person—no matter how poorly he may have behaved. When I confessed I hadn’t always been there for my friend, I realized I was questioning my own role in her hospitalization.

The biggest surprise was that I needed to forgive my friend as well. Was the depression her fault? No. She did not choose to have a change of residence, a son leave home and a job loss all during the stress-filled month of December. This combination would have been difficult for most of us.

But her hospitalization had been a frightening time for me. While the doctors struggled to find the right medication, I saw how dependent we are on the delicate balance of brain chemistry.

There were days when it seemed a stranger inhabited my friend’s mind. I needed to forgive her for showing me the fragile nature of mental health.

No wonder I couldn’t take my focus away from her husband’s behavior. Once I did, I had to deal with my own guilt and admit how difficult it was to be there for my friend while she struggled with such an incapacitating illness.

It is easy to see why Satan tries to interfere with forgiveness. By forgiving, not only did I stop living in the spiritual trap of anger and blame, but God also set me free from guilt when I asked forgiveness for my own failings.

Forgiveness is not part of our human nature. Truly, “To err is human; to forgive, divine” (Alexander Pope). Once we make the decision to forgive, we can depend on God to complete the supernatural work of forgiveness in our hearts. 

Is there anyone in your life you are struggling to forgive? Your challenges or triumphs may help others. I invite you to share your forgiveness journey in the comments below. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teresa Tierney is a freelance writer, wife, mother of two, grandmother of three. She blogs You may contact her at

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