Soul Traumas: Dealing with the Guilt of Failing to Protect

Your soul is the only part of you that cares about morality. Your mind and body have other priorities that they are focused on, and they simply don’t bother with maintaining a moral code. Your personal moral code is based on a set of beliefs that your soul has formed: beliefs which define whether something is morally right or morally wrong. As you go through life, your soul is constantly revising its moral code in response to new information and experiences.

Your soul has a strong core need to be able to view you as morally good. You don’t need to be a perfect angel, but you need to be more good than bad. To feel calm, your soul must be able to respect you as being morally decent. When it feels that it is unable to do this, it becomes stressed. The more your own actions, thoughts, or qualities seem to violate your soul’s current moral code, the more self-disgust you will feel, and the more stressed your soul will become.

Now being able to respect you as a morally good person isn’t the only need your soul has. It also needs to feel there is a purpose to your existence and that your existence will somehow extend beyond death. Here is where we have various religions popping up to try to satisfy this need of your soul by putting forth theories about what exactly is in store for you “on the other side.”

So is there really life after death? Of course there is, but delving into those details is beyond the scope of this post. Suffice to say that your existence is far from over. You will definitely have another chapter after this earthly life (and another, and another, and another…) so your soul is quite correct in feeling that the choices you’re making in this life really do matter.

Now let’s get back to that part about your existence being a purposeful thing. You obviously didn’t create yourself, so who did? Once your soul encounters your non-human Creator, who I refer to as God, it finds itself in a new kind of quandary. On the one hand, it is deeply satisfying to your soul to have its need for meaning satisfied by finally connecting with the Being who actually created you. Discovering what a purposeful, micromanaging, involved Creator God is brings more satisfaction, and the hope that you might even manage to form a personal relationship with this strange Entity who feels that sustaining your existence is a worthwhile activity. But there are problems with meeting God as well, because He brings His own moral code into the mix. Now your soul has two moral codes to contend with, and if it’s smart, it will realize that God’s moral code is the far more important one. It’s the sheer power of God that makes His opinion carry such weight. Once your soul realizes that this God not only makes it possible for you to exist, but He also controls the quality of your existence, and can quite easily make simply being alive a torturous thing…well, then it suddenly feels quite important to make sure that God feels you are morally decent.

So how do you manage when you’ve got two moral judges to please: your own soul, and now this non-human Deity who is always in your business? The best strategy would be to simplify things by aligning your own moral code with God’s. It turns out God isn’t so flexible about His moral code. Fine. Your soul can adjust to Him. And once your soul revises its personal moral code to match what it thinks God’s code is, things get easier…don’t they? It depends.

Just how reachable are God’s standards? How easy is He to succeed with? Here’s where things become very muddled because when you try to find help from religious folks, you quickly discover that various religions portray God in very different ways–so much so that it’s impossible to get a clear picture of what He expects from you simply by talking to humans. What’s the solution here? You need to go direct. Ask God to help you understand what He wants from you. But wait–is it really that simple? Can tiny little you ask a universe creating Being a direct question without doing anything special? Of course you can. It turns out the real God is quite approachable.

So why did I explain all of that? Because when you’re dealing with the kind of soul trauma that produces crushing guilt, it’s important for you to understand exactly where that guilt is coming from and what’s causing it to feel so intense. Your soul’s need to view you as morally decent is as essential as your body’s need for oxygen and food. And once your soul feels that it has aligned its moral code with God’s, then its distress at doing “wrong” greatly intensifies, because now it seems you are at risk of ticking off a Being with ultimate power. Here is where guilt gets mingled with a fear of God punishing you, and the result can be some pretty intense depression and/or constant physical tension.

In this post, I’m going to explain how you can help your soul deal with a specific kind of soul trauma: one caused by the belief that you failed to protect someone. Maybe you are the mother who looked away for a moment and your child was kidnapped. Maybe you are the father who was forcibly restrained by thugs and made to watch while your daughter or wife was ravaged. Maybe you are the coach who failed to act when one of your kids was trying to tell you how bad things were getting at home. Maybe you are the older brother who lost track of your sister at a party and didn’t realize she was getting raped in a back room. Maybe you were the leader of a military op that went south and now some of your guys are critically wounded. Maybe you are the law enforcement officer who failed to give your partner the cover he needed. Maybe you are the fireman who got distracted and didn’t see the debris bury your partner. Maybe you are the father who didn’t pick up on the signs that your daughter was getting molested by her teacher. Maybe you are the bodyguard who got attacked from behind and the person you were supposed to protect was dead by the time you recovered. Maybe you are the babysitter who was rocking out to music and didn’t hear your young charge calling for help until it was too late. Whatever the details of your particular situation, failing in the role of protector can result in some very intense, life stopping, health destroying guilt. If this is where you are at, then you are in a crisis, and that crisis needs to be dealt with. God does not want you to spend the rest of your life stuck in the past. He doesn’t want you clinging to the lie that you can’t get past this, or that it’s wrong for you to stop feeling bad, or that the people you’ve hurt now have permission to control your life.

Now whenever your focus is on moral failure, you are dealing with a form of spiritual or soul trauma, meaning your soul is the part of you that is in distress. Soul traumas need to be handled differently than psychological traumas, because your soul and mind have different concerns. Any form of trauma is a major problem and deserves attention, so one form of trauma shouldn’t be treated as “more serious” than another. Both are serious. Your soul and mind both play critical roles in your ability to function and thrive.

Third Party Involvement

Now in cases of soul trauma, it’s important to acknowledge the involvement of supernatural beings, because such beings are involved, and ignoring them only makes recovery more difficult. It also helps to understand that humans are very responsive creatures, meaning that much of what we do is based on a reaction to third party input. This is especially true for your soul, which is constantly reacting to the input of supernatural beings. The fact that you personally don’t believe in God or demons doesn’t minimize their influence over you one jot. In fact, demons love it when you think they don’t exist, because it increases their influence over you. Imagine how much fun I could have shoving you around in a room if you refuse to acknowledge my existence. Until you acknowledge me, you won’t make any intentional efforts to defend yourself against me, which will only make you that much easier for me to harass.

So what are demons anyway? Demons are malicious non-humans who are interested in trashing your personal relationship with God…or preventing you from ever having one. They are invested in doing this due to their own personal beefs with God. It’s rather like how Mary responds to her husband cheating on her by attacking his other lover. Mary’s beef is with her husband. She’s only attacking the other woman to upset him. In the same way, demons are really ticked at God, not you. Messing with you is just a way of trying to stick it to Him. And just as Mary despises her husband’s lover simply because of how her husband views the woman, demons despise you simply because God is interested in you. It’s helpful to understand these basics about demons so that you won’t fall into the trap of thinking you can actually negotiate with these creatures or coax them into liking you.

Now demons know all about how your elements operate, and they have access to all of your personal beliefs. Many religions teach that demons have very limited knowledge of you, meaning they can’t hear your private thoughts and prayers. Such teaching is complete hooey and if you accept it, you’ll be that much easier for demons to mess with. Demons have total access to your personal beliefs, and this is one of the reasons they are so good at tormenting you. For example, when it comes to guilt issues, demons know which specific soul beliefs are fueling your guilt. They also understand how you currently view God and how much you care about pleasing Him. Demons take all of these important factors into consideration when cooking up a plan for how to keep you miserable. They also try to manipulate the humans around you as much as possible to get those humans to play along with their personal agenda for you.

In cases of prolonged guilt, demons are always involved. While your own soul beliefs can start the problem, demons will try to prolong things by constantly reinforcing your wrong beliefs about yourself. It’s rather like falling into a pool because you tripped over your shoelaces, then trying to correct the situation by swimming to the surface, only to discover that someone else is holding you down under the water.

Both your soul and your mind form beliefs which they are constantly revising. Both elements can be easily influenced by third parties into changing their beliefs, especially when those third parties seem to have great influence over you or they seem to be in positions of authority. While you might use language like “I blame myself for what happened,” what you’re actually doing is agreeing with someone else’s negative assessment of your actions. In cases of protector guilt, those third parties are often a combination of humans and demons, who are making their condemnation of you sound very logical and justified by saying things like: “You were the one in charge. We trusted you. You said you could handle it. He came to you for help. You knew it was a dangerous situation.”

It usually doesn’t take much to convince a grieving protector to shoulder full responsibility for what happened, and other humans have very self-serving reasons for wanting to turn you into the scapegoat when things go wrong. We all know that whoever gets the blame will also get the punishment, and once you are the designated fall guy, the rest of the group can use you as the dumping ground for any distress they feel because of what happened.

When 14-year-old Joey gets hit by a car and turned into a quadriplegic, the whole family decides to dump all the blame onto Joey’s older brother, 18-year-old Frank. Now that Frank has been made the official scapegoat for the tragedy, he gets nailed with everyone’s anger, pain, frustration, and grief. It’s a one way street: everyone gets to dump on Frank, but Frank gets punished if he ever expresses any of his frustrations in return. As a result, Frank tries to deal with the immense burden that everyone has shifted onto him all by himself. When he finds this too hard to do, he turns to drugs to get relief. Then he turns to self-abuse. Then he gets utterly despaired of life and starts thinking up ways that he can kill himself just to escape the suffocation. This is what guilt does to us when we just lay down in the dirt and agree to be everyone’s whipping boy.

So what’s going on in Frank’s situation? He’s surrounded by humans who are all casting judgment on him. They are blaming him for his younger brother’s crippled state. Here is where Frank has a choice to make. He can’t control the way other humans think, but he does have some control over how he responds to their judgments of him. When his father says, “It’s all your fault that your brother’s life is ruined,” Frank can internally respond by saying “Yes, it is. I’m such a creep.” Or he can say, “No, it’s not my fault. My father’s judgment of me is garbage.” It’s the same with you. You are also living amid a bunch of judges, and every time they communicate their assessment of you through words or glares or body language, your soul must either agree or disagree with those assessments. Ongoing, overwhelming guilt is a result of constantly agreeing with third party negative assessments of you.

Your Human Judges

It’s time for an exercise. Get out a piece of paper and something to write with. On the top of the paper, write: My Judges. Then identify the specific event that your current guilt focuses on and summarize that event in a few words at the top of your paper. For example, you might write, “Sally’s death,” or “What happened to Joe.” Focus on the initial crisis event, not the fallout. For example, after your buddy Troy got blown apart by that landmine that you steered him into, he became an alcoholic and now he and Trisha have gotten a divorce. Once you accept the blame for Troy stepping on the bomb, you’ll naturally accept the blame for everything that happens afterwards. But right now we’re focusing on how people responded to the initial crisis event, because those responses were a huge factor in what happened next. So in the Troy scenario, the event you’d write on the top of your paper would be “Troy stepping on the mine,” not “Troy’s family falling apart.”

Now once you’ve summarized the crisis event, draw a line down the middle of the paper to form two columns. Label the first column BLAMES ME and the second column as DOES NOT BLAME ME. Now take some time to picture the faces of the various people who know about what happened, and write their names down in the column that best reflects their assessment of you. It’s important to really think about what judgments those individuals have actually expressed. For example, maybe you think your wife should be blaming you for what happened, but you know that she’s repeatedly said, “It’s not your fault.” Put her name down in the DOES NOT BLAME ME column because that’s the judgment your wife is actually casting. It doesn’t matter that you can’t receive it, it’s still her judgment, and the point of this exercise is to identify how the panel of human judges in your personal life are actually responding to you. Maybe your father is blaming you but your mother isn’t: put their names in the appropriate columns. Maybe your sister blames you, but the pastor you went to for advice said it wasn’t your fault. Add those names as well. Keep adding the names of everyone you can think of who has weighed in on this situation, even people who are virtual strangers. The doctor at the hospital. The police officer who came to the scene. Your supervisor. Your neighbor. Your coworker. That random guy on the bus who you spilled your guts to in a stressful moment. Jot down everyone who has expressed an opinion about this situation because all of those opinions matter. We humans are responsive creatures and we are very affected by what other humans say about us.

Now once you’ve got your panel of judges listed out, look it over. Which column has the most names in it? A list like this is very informative. For starters, anyone in the DOES NOT BLAME ME column is a potential source of support when you start trying to get out from under this brick load of guilt. Are there any names in that column of people who are close to you? Perhaps there is a spouse or a child or a parent or a friend with whom you have a lot of history? Think about how you’ve been responding to those who have passed a “Not Guilty” judgment over you. You aren’t being very nice to those people, are you?

Here’s how it works with intense guilt. A crisis happens and judges spring up all around you to weigh in on how you handled the situation. Some blame you, some don’t. You then personally choose to side with those who blame you. Once you align yourself with one team, you get hostile towards the members of the other team. This is when you start biting your daughter’s head off whenever she tries to encourage you. Or you physically leave the room whenever your wife says you need to stop persecuting yourself. You keep abusing your allies until they either burn out and back off, or they change their judgments just to stop getting attacked by you. After years of trying to support you through your foul moods, your wife finally does start blaming you because she’s sick to death of your pity parties and sniping remarks. Think about how you’re currently treating the people who are not blaming you for what happened. Reducing your hostility towards these people is going to be an important step in the healing process.

Your Non-Human Judges

Now maybe your list doesn’t have any names on it because you’ve never talked to anyone about what happened. If there are no human judges blaming you, then all of the condemnation must be originating from you, right? Wrong. You’re a responsive creature. In cases of guilt, you are never alone in your evaluation of you. Even if there are no names on your list yet, you are still aligning with a panel of judges, only they aren’t ones you can see with your eyes because they aren’t human.

Demons are always involved when the guilt is mounting up. Demons love guilt because it is guaranteed to create problems between you and God. Many harmful spiritual practices and negative approaches to God are inspired by guilt (see Relating to God: The Trap of Symbolic Pain). Under the BLAMES ME column, add “demons.”

Aside from demons, God is the other Supernatural Being who is weighing in on your situation. (If you’re wondering about angels, yes they are real, but they are irrelevant to this situation so you needn’t spend time focusing on them.) God’s personal agenda for you is to encourage your soul to make choices that will help it thrive in the longterm. God is also the One arranging for you to go through certain experiences in life, so that certain soul choices will become possible (see It’s Personal: Why God Brings Problems Into Your Life). Add “God” to the DOES NOT BLAME ME column.

Now perhaps you imagine that when you do a bad thing, God starts harping on you like an outraged Father, and He doesn’t stop raging until you fix whatever it was. This common view of God isn’t quite right. God will sometimes communicate to your soul that He doesn’t like something you’re doing. But when God convicts you like this, He will also tell you what to do to course correct. Whatever instructions God gives you will be ones that you can actually carry out–meaning that you’ll have the resources in that moment to do what He’s telling you to do. “Go back and change what happened in the past” is beyond the scope of human ability because God has not given any of us the power to time travel. In cases of intense guilt, people often believe that God is telling them to do something that they simply can’t do, and this causes their souls to become despaired about ever getting into a good place with their Creator. Yet whenever you think God is demanding the impossible from you, you’re wrong. Demons can do a fabulous job of imitating God’s Voice in your mind, and if you sincerely care about pleasing God, demons will try very hard to convince you that God is saying something that He really isn’t saying. With God’s legitimate convictions often triggering feelings of guilt, how can you tell whether your soul’s current guilt is a reaction to demons or God?

Good Guilt vs. Bad Guilt

There are two kinds of guilt. Good guilt is a guilt that inspires your soul to stop giving God a bunch of snark. This change in soul attitudes is commonly called repentance.

Bad guilt is a reaction to demons, and it causes you to feel discouraged, rotten and ashamed in your personal relationship with God. Bad guilt is caused by your soul accepting lies about who God is, what He wants from you, and how He personally views you.

God convicts us for different reasons, and not all convictions result in feelings of guilt. When God is heaping on the guilt, it is because He wants you to change an attitude or action that you are currently engaging in (see Recognizing God’s Conviction (Charts)). This is not the kind of guilt you’re currently dealing with, and to help you see the difference, it’s time for another exercise.

Exercise: Classifying Your Guilt

Get out another sheet of paper (or turn over the one you used before). Now think about the initial crisis and pay attention to the specific thoughts that rise up in your own mind. We already know that you’ve chosen to side with those who are blaming you for what happened, but now let’s build a case for why that judgment is correct. Take some time to write down some of those thoughts that are always swirling around in your brain about what you should have or could have done differently. For example:

“I shouldn’t have been listening to music when I was being paid to watch someone else’s kid.”
“I should have led my men in through a different entrance.”
“I should have realized that that roof wasn’t solid before I sent my partner out onto it.”
“I should have reacted faster and maybe I could have taken those thugs by surprise.”
“If I hadn’t been texting on my phone, I would have seen my brother run out into the street.”
“If I had kept my kid in the shopping cart, he wouldn’t have gotten kidnapped.”

Take your time to list out all of the thoughts that surface over and over again for you when you think about that crisis event. When you’re done, look over your list and see what all of those statements have in common. They’re all describing things that you did in the past, aren’t they? Wrong actions, wrong judgments, wrong thoughts, wrong motivations. No doubt some of the things on your list weren’t wrong at all, but you’ve come to view them as such in your current merciless state of mind. But now consider this: since you’re not a time traveler, can you do anything to change any of the things you’ve listed out? No, because what’s done is done. This is what makes bad guilt so soul crushing: it demands the impossible before mercy or forgiveness will be granted.

Helen’s husband Dan says that if she hadn’t been so self-absorbed in her shoe shopping that day, their daughter Melody wouldn’t have felt frustrated with having no ride home at the end of her ballgame, she wouldn’t have gotten into the stranger’s car, and she wouldn’t have ended up ravaged and killed. Dan exudes hatred every time he’s around Helen, as do Dan’s parents and Helen’s parents. All of these people are blaming Helen and refusing to forgive her unless she finds a way to bring Melody back from the grave. Even then, some of them still wouldn’t forgive Helen for being such a terrible mother.

This is how it works with bad guilt. Bad guilt is merciless. It demands the impossible, and no matter how many drugs you take or how much self-punishing you do, it will never let you go. To get free from the clutches of bad guilt, you have to be the proactive one. You have to realize that you are choosing to side against yourself. You are choosing to accept the blame people are heaping onto you and you are agreeing that you don’t deserve forgiveness unless you do the impossible. You can’t make other people change their assessment of you, but you can certainly change your own assessment. Right now your own name belongs in the BLAMES ME column, because you are condemning yourself for the past. But you can choose to erase your name from the BLAMES ME column and write it under the DOES NOT BLAME ME column instead. Then you could start to live again.

Changing Your Own Verdict

Why is it so hard to stop beating yourself up over the past? Because the case that others have built against you feels like the most logical one and because you feel like you don’t have permission to defend yourself. Well, remember, you are a responsive creature. Getting out from under guilt isn’t a matter of you throwing some kind of coup to overthrow the negative judges in your life. It’s a matter of you changing sides. You don’t have to scrape up the courage to hold a position all by yourself because there are already members on both teams. Get out your list of judges again and notice how God is in the DOES NOT BLAME ME column. Even if you don’t have any human names in that column, you have your Creator, and He’s worth zillions of humans. So you’re not going to go venturing out by yourself when you change teams—you’re going to be joining God and any other allies you might have.

Permission to Change Sides

So how do you know for sure that your Creator is in the DOES NOT BLAME ME camp? Well, here is where we need to understand how Divine judgment works.

Humans delight in things like grudge holding, blame, and condemnation. God delights in things like compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. This isn’t to say that God’s wrath is nonexistent. Fail to give Him sufficient submission in this life, and He’ll make your next chapter of existence very unpleasant. God’s wrath is very real, and He also has the capacity to hold grudges. But this isn’t something that He rushes into as readily as humans do. Instead, God prefers to see you enjoy the benefits of His abundant mercy, and that means giving you many fresh starts.

The God who made you is the One who set the limits on what your capable of doing and He knows that you can’t go back and change the past. Since God wants you to have the option of succeeding with Him, He makes His approval readily available to you by only requiring things of you which you are actually able to do. Pleasing God comes down to a simple matter of embracing the soul attitudes that He says He likes. Your soul attitude is revealed in your honest answer to the question, “How much do I care about pleasing God?” Some of us just don’t give a hoot about pleasing God. Others of us want to please Him more than anything, and most of us fall somewhere between those two extremes. So where are you at today?

Since you can’t change the past and you can’t skip ahead to the future, God will always focus on the present when He is talking to you about how to please Him. It is your response to Him right now which determines whether or not He is pleased with you right now. What you did or didn’t do in the past is simply not a factor when we’re talking about God’s current opinion of you.

Since pleasing God right now is a simple matter of sincerely wanting Him to be pleased with you right now, succeeding with God becomes a very doable thing. And once you are giving God what He wants (which is an invitation to have His total way in your life) then God is not going to be harping on you about the past.

God has no interest in creating unresolvable problems between you and Him, and bad guilt is an unresolvable problem. Bad guilt offers no hope of a solution, which is why God never uses it. When God points out a problem to you, He points out a solution as well, and that solution is one that tells you how to stay in a good place with Him.

Different Kinds Of Problems

Now when humans think of problems, they think of earthly circumstances. And when they think of solving those problems, they think of external actions that will bring about changes to those circumstances. But when God talks about problems, He’s talking about spiritual issues, and His solutions to those problems always come down to spiritual choices. Understanding this major difference in focus helps you understand why God’s view of your past failings is so different from yours. When you think of what you did wrong, you’re thinking of actions. But before God will even concede that you did anything wrong, He has to see a spiritual problem.

After two muggers in an alley pull a gun on John and force him to stay on the ground while they assault his wife, John concludes that he failed to protect his wife. Perhaps his wife concludes the same thing, and now everyone is blaming John. But why are people blaming John? Because of his behaviors. Well, God doesn’t focus on behavior, He focuses on soul attitude. So when God sees John go down in the alley, He is watching John’s soul. There’s only one way that John will get into trouble with God in this scenario, and that’s if he intentionally refuses to do something that God is telling him to do. But perhaps God didn’t tell John to do anything and all John did was melt into a puddle of fear. Or perhaps God intentionally sabotaged John’s efforts to do something by blocking him from being able to locate any courage or making him unable to form a coherent thought. Whatever the case, unless John took an internal attitude of “Shove it, God, I’m not listening to You right now,” then God is going to say that John did not do anything wrong. Both John and his wife will condemn John for failing to protect, but God will say that John is not to blame because John did not willfully defy God.

So what about you? What was your soul attitude in the midst of your crisis? Because the only way you’re going to get God on your case about what happened is if you received clear conviction before or during the crisis that you should take a different course of action and you intentionally refused to do it because you did not respect God’s Authority. Receiving a bunch of conviction after the fact doesn’t count for anything. God doesn’t blame you for not being able to see into the future. Failing to act because you were paralyzed with fear or hopelessly outmanned doesn’t count for anything in God’s court of law, either, because these reasons have nothing to do with you defying God’s Authority. To get in trouble with God you have to be willfully defying God, and you can’t defy God until He gives you some kind of directive. The reality is that God often does not give any directives in the midst of crises, because He wants those crises to happen.

Understanding Sovereignty

Why do people get assaulted in this world?

Why do kids die? Why do bad guys get away while good guys get shot? Are these signs that God keeps falling asleep on the job? Are these signs that demons keep overpowering the same Being who is sustaining their very existence? Not hardly. Bad things happen in this world because God wants them to happen. And because God is good in Character, He always has good reasons for the bad things that He does.

You’re bored stiff on your babysitting job so you turn on some tunes. Your kid is taking a nap—what can happen? Does God expect you to anticipate every possible circumstance ahead of time? No, the brain He gave you can’t handle those kinds of calculations. How hard would it be for God to speak up and say, “Don’t listen to music right now?” Not hard at all. And when the kid starts choking, how hard would it be for God to strike you with the feeling that something is wrong and propel you down that hallway to intervene? This is God we’re talking about, not some limited creature. No one chokes by accident in God’s world. Your kid started choking because God wanted him to. You kept rocking out because God intentionally kept you oblivious until it was too late. He sends you down the hallway after all is lost because He didn’t want you to try and save anyone. It was your kid’s time to die, and he died. When you then turn around and blame yourself for this event, it’s like your blaming yourself for a choice that God made. As the Creator of all things, God gets to take lives whenever He wants to. He doesn’t have to run it past you. He doesn’t have to give you the option of trying to interfere with His plans, and He doesn’t owe you advanced notice for what He’s about to do.

You kick down the door of what is supposed to be an abandoned building and you and your team get blasted with gunfire. Do you really think an all-knowing God didn’t see you walking into that set up? Was God bound and gagged in a closet somewhere at the critical moment so that He couldn’t warn you? Of course not. God could have stopped you a billion different ways, but He didn’t want to. He wanted you to go through that door, He wanted you to be outgunned, and He wanted your guys to go down just as they did. When you blame yourself for this, you’re assuming authority that God never gave you. You weren’t in control of that situation; He was, and He didn’t invite you to be His co-commander.

God is running every detail of this universe in a very strategic and purposeful way. Every decision has multiple agendas behind it, and creating tragedies in human lives is often one of the most efficient ways to accomplish those agendas. God often uses tragedies to lay the groundwork for personal maturity lessons that will help us thrive in the longterm. He rips loved ones out of our lives to force us to turn down roads that we would otherwise choose to avoid. Forming a strong bond with the Creator of both good and evil requires a lot of painful lessons. You can’t get close to God while you’re living and dying for the approval of mere mortals, and getting humans to turn against you for events that were beyond your control is a very effective way of forcing you to reevaluate how much weight you’re assigning to the various judges in your life.

The Supreme Judge

As the Creator and Sustainer of all things, God holds a position of Supreme Authority over everything in existence. This is why His opinion so completely trumps the opinions of all of these angry humans in your life. It is out of respect for God’s Authority that you need to ask Him to help you embrace His assessment of you as the only one that matters. God does not condemn humans for crimes that those humans did not commit. While many religions teach that people will end up in a Hell-type situation for merely for being “sinful” in nature, this is total rubbish. People only end up in trouble for willfully defying their Maker, and no one can defy the real God until that God personally introduces Himself and tells them to do something. Spiritual rebellion is always an informed choice; it isn’t something we can do unintentionally.

When God blames you for something, it’s going to be because you’re defying Him on a soul level. Should such a situation arise, God will also give you the option to repent and choose to drop your snarky soul attitude. When you do, God will say that all is well between you and Him and He will tell you to leave the past in the past.

The bad guilt you are currently being oppressed by is not coming from God. It is coming from judges who are elevating themselves as being higher authorities than God. If God says you are in good standing with Him, but your wife says you deserve to be forever punished for ruining her life, guess who wins that contest? God always trumps humans, and at some point He will start convicting your wife that she needs to align with His judgment of you and stop holding her assessment up as the superior one. Maybe she’ll listen to God, maybe she’ll choose to rebel against Him. Either way, she’ll have to deal with the consequences of her own choices. In the meantime, you need to stop aligning yourself with judges who are opposing God’s assessment of you.

God says that succeeding with Him is a simple matter of soul attitude. Pleasing God doesn’t have anything to do with making perfect field calls, anticipating danger, or pacifying angry people. If you want to be approved of by God, He puts His approval well within your grasp. And once you have His approval, what does it really matter what mere created beings think?

Assumptions

You assumed that you were supposed to protect someone. Well, given that your person got trashed, clearly God feels differently. When God wants someone to be shielded from harm, He makes sure that they are. He doesn’t rely on some wimp of a human to be His muscle. It’s time to stop blaming yourself for something that God wanted to be. Do you really think that God cares so little about other people that He will trash them just because of some wrong call that you made? This is not at all how it works. Every life is precious to God, and He is taking care of each one of us in a highly personal, very purposeful way. Understanding God’s sovereignty is a critical aspect of getting a more accurate perspective of how this world works and how little control you have over what happens in it.

You did not fail to protect someone. You were set up by God to undergo a traumatic experience which would result in you being challenged to take a hard look at whose approval you’re living for in life. Experiences like this drive us to gain deeper understandings of Divine judgment, the limits of human choice, and God’s involvement in our lives—all of which are critical subjects for the maturing soul to understand. There are two ways you can go from here. You can keep wallowing in “if onlys” and let your panel of hateful judges suck all the joy out of your life, or you can turn to your Creator and ask Him to help you learn everything that He wants to teach you through this experience. There is only one wise course of action.

For more about Divine judgment, see Your Soul vs. God: Two Different Judges.

For more about God’s sovereignty, see The Sovereignty of God: A Critical Truth for Calming Fears.

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