Penance as guilt is just what our monkey minds want. The part of our brain stem that focuses on survival and preservation of the status quo often gets its way by imposing anxiety and fear, and guilt just piles on to its agenda. But repentance — the ultimate aim of “doing penance” — is about taking action. The word literally means to “turn around,” to “head in a new (right) direction.” Guilt, though, feeds on our insecurities and need to blame and, left unchecked, leads us to despair. It is the root of thinking that we’re not good enough, that we can’t do anything to solve a larger problem that causes the guilt, and so leads to inaction — the exact opposite of repentance.
(This is a teaser for our Kairos Community gathering Sunday at 4 pm. We're talking about moving beyond guilt and inaction to recognizing injustice and doing something. Learn more at http://www.liveservegrow.info/?p=1435 You can join us online or in person. We'd love to see you.)