Living Between Gratitude and Guilt

I've been reading through the book of Leviticus. It can be a bewildering experience, reading through all the sacrificial details and rituals.

But this much I've come to appreciate. Whatever you might think of the sacrificial system, it marked your entire life. And it mostly keep you living between gratitude and guilt.

For the daily life of an Israelite, those where the two main offerings: thank offerings--expressing gratitude toward YHWH--and guilt offerings--ritually owning how you've hurt your neighbor.

And as I pondered this, from a psychological perspective this seems to be a remarkable healthy way to live, living between gratitude and guilt.

The quick pushback here is that the word "guilt" has negative connotations. Who wants to be made to feel guilty? But as Brene Brown has taught us, guilt--taking responsibility and owning your mistakes--is an incredibly adaptive emotion, positively correlated with emotional and relational health.

Beyond personally taking responsibility for the way you've damaged relationships, there's also something healthy about taking responsibility and clearing the air as a community as well.

I shared with a co-worker last week that we do damage to each other in a workplace drop by drop. Those drops add up over time, weakening and tearing the bonds of collegiality. Taking responsibility for those drops and mending the damage quickly would prevent a lot of workplace issues and tensions.  

And gratitude, we know, is also highly predictive of emotional and relational health.

So I'm with Leviticus on this one.

Living between gratitude and responsibility--between thank offerings and guilt offerings--is a very healthy way to live.

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