Regret vs. Shame:
Let’s look at regret and shame in relation to Christ’s crucifixion. “No Greater Love” by Edward Sri devotes a significant portion of the book focusing on studying Christ’s Passion from a Biblical perspective while comparing experiences of Peter and Judas.
Peter and Judas both play an unfortunate role in the story of the Passion. Peter denies knowing Jesus! He abandons the Messiah whom he has devoted his life to. Judas betrays Jesus! Judas is then overwhelmed with misery when Christ submits to death rather than displaying His power. If we feel despair when we sin, how much more intense must the feeling have been for Judas and Peter. These two men lived, ate, and worked with Jesus!
Peter and Judas represent a lot of things. We can derive a lot of lessons from their experiences. The one I’d like to focus on is how the two men react to their sins. Judas with shame, Peter with regret!
Regret does not equal Shame:
Regret and shame are not the same. First, regret is a natural feeling of discomfort that indicates a wrong has been done. Second, we can regret minor things. For example, not covering our plants when the hail arrive. We can also regret bigger things. For example, drinking to excess.
Shame, on the other hand, is a burdensome reaction to wrong doing. Shame is a consumption of our self-worth. It is an attachment of our own value by our actions.
What is Regret:
Regret drove Peter to strive for better. Peter had to answer honestly when he was struggling to love and give his life to God once again. (see previous article: Agape vs Philia Love), https://agapecatholicministries.info/?s=Agape+vs+Philia+Love Peter needed to ultimately respond to Christ’s call of leadership and martyrdom. Regret made Peter desire to right his wrong, not continue towards his own destruction.
What is Shame:
Shame drove Judas to give up! He lost his strength to feel pain and he turned away from the God. Shame made Judas willing to take his own life, rather than to ask for forgiveness. Shame made Judas believe he had lost his worth as a child of God. He felt he was unworthy of the Lord’s infinite mercy.
The inclination to shame is built into us as a result of the Fall of Man. It says in Genesis that Adam and Eve felt ashamed, and hid themselves from God. Something in us is always tempted to say- I’ve ruined myself! I’m not worth saving! I should not even pursue God again! Regret is a restoration of the balance between man and morality. Regret is an indication that we have done wrong and now we must do right.
The devil taunts us with shame. God offers us mercy when we feel regret. Only we get to decide how we respond to our sins.