How to Get Rid of a (Guilt) Hangover

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I bet you thought I was going to talk about a night out when you drank a little more than you planned, producing a hangover the next morning. You know, like the type of post that pops up from googling “how to get rid of a hangover” that says, “1) sleep, 2) drink water, 3) eat.”

Well I’m very sorry if that’s what you were looking for, but the alcohol hangover isn’t what this blog is about. I’m talking about that yucky, heavy, guilt-ridden feeling - whether that be from a decision full of intense regret, engaging in merciless gossip, or just sitting in a place of personal worthlessness. 

If you’re as broken as me, it’s a familiar feeling. It literally just “hangs over” you, poisoning your spirit with all the lies you’ve ever believed about yourself. Every insecurity and every fear is reuniting at the surface of your conscience to hang over you. 

Unfortunately, this hangover won’t go away with just sleep, water, and food. Also, let it be known that I’m using the word “guilt hangover” for the visual imagery of the heaviness we so often carry. I’m really talking about shame, sin, and Jesus. 

Guilt isn’t shame. Guilt is saying “I did something bad,” and shame is saying “I am something bad.” When guilt piles up in heaps and heaps, it can turn into shame. We begin to allow our guilt to define us and we go “shame-spiraling” into a cycle of self condemnation. The good news is that God is able to cleanse the poisons in our spirit with His Grace. 

“Look straight ahead with honest confidence; don't hang your head in shame.” Psalm 4:25 (GNT)

To get rid of a guilt hangover, we must locate the source of the toxin.

Hangovers of any kind are created from something poisoning our system, too much bad and not enough good. This unequal ratio keeps us from serving and being the Christian we have the capability to be. We are imprisoned by the unworthiness that a moral hangover inflicts. Satan loves it when we immobilize ourselves from the fullness of God’s creation. Even though it may be tough to bring up bad memories and avoided topics, it’s crucial to fight through your emotions and name what is producing the guilt and shame that hangs over your life. Locating the source of the toxin makes it easier to get rid of. 

Once you locate the toxin, it’s essential to purge the guilt and shame, and speak Truth into existence to combat it. This could be considered a little bit of a “moral detox.” As we purge through our struggles, we begin to stumble on His strength. Take the time to focus on who God says you are instead of who the world has made you think you are.

We find out who God says we are by learning who He is.

This is when we can’t talk about guilt without talking about the Gospel. The Gospel is confessing our sins (hangovers), and accepting His gift of forgiveness. 

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (ESV)

Accepting forgiveness is an act and a will. It’s the game changer. It’s the sleep, water, and food all in one. We can live a hangover-free life because of what Jesus has already done for us. It’s the remedy found in the Bible that surpasses all google searches. God wants you to forgive yourself, it’s not your burden to carry the heaviness of guilt and shame. Because He went to the cross and made a one-time payment for all the guilt hangovers we will ever have, we can dwell in His Grace instead of our past.

“Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.” Hebrews 9:14 (NLT) 

Maggie // @maggie_yow