During my summer break last year, after I had just finished my first year of teaching, memories about past mistakes started to overwhelm me, and I began to feel tremendous guilt. There had been times in my life when I had been unable to control my emotions and handle conflicts well. Working things out peacefully wasn’t one of my strengths. Particularly troubling were memories about the way I had treated a coworker at a previous job when I had been unhappy and stressed. We had several conflicts where I treated him very poorly. Each time I apologized, but our relationship never fully recovered.
Now, several years later, I felt tormented by those instances. I wanted to find forgiveness, but I didn’t feel it was possible or that I deserved it. I had progressed since that time, but nonetheless these painful memories left me feeling ashamed and depressed. I finally decided to sincerely pray about this.
As I prayed, I realized the guilt I was experiencing was not entirely based on concern for the other individual; rather, it was more the result of prideful and self-centered thinking. I was embarrassed about my behavior and worried about how the people in the office remembered me. I had been considering contacting this individual, but I now saw that this was motivated by a desire to salvage my damaged reputation rather than pure love for this person.