TD Jakes — From Guilt to Gratitude
Greetings, everybody. I'm excited to have this opportunity to share the Word of the Lord with you. Have you ever gone through anything that left you feeling sad, and down, worried, depressed, at the end of your rope? Have you ever had to go on as the message suggests today, from guilt to gratitude? Jesus touched people and allowed them to touch him back. And in that touch, it will take you from guilt to gratitude.
I wanna teach some things that will help you deal with the guilt, and deal with life, and deal with mistakes, and deal with bad choices, because there's not a person in this room who hasn't made a bad choice at some time or another in their life. Can I get a good amen? See, you have to realize that when you have guilt, in a positive way, it comes as an indication that you are not living your best life, your best self. You have not presented yourself in the light that you could have, that somewhere down inside of you there is a better you screaming, trying to get out. There's a better you saying that those decisions are not a reflection of who I really am. I may have done what they said I did, but I am not what they say I am. They didn't get it.
Let me try it on y'all. I may have done what they say I did, but I am not what they say I am. Have you ever done something that didn't reflect who you are? It's just me and three other people in the room. Thank God for you. And the rest of you phonies that came to church this morning, may God bless you and may heaven smile upon you till we meet again. I may have done it but I am not it. And the part of me that is not it rebels against the part of me that did it and I am ashamed, and I am guilty, because I have not portrayed the best part of who I am, and now I have to live with the guilt of what I did and what you say about me as a result of what I did. Because some of the punishment is the pain of people whispering about the choices you've made.
And it's hard to defend yourself when there's truth to what they said. I told you this was gonna be hard. It's hard to defend yourself when the murmuring of the voice of accusation is stronger on the inside than the voice of all the critics on the outside. Guilt is not just about what others are saying about you, it is what you are saying about yourself. It is the condemnation that comes upon you. It is the struggle that lives down inside of you that have you ever said, "What was I thinking"?
Have you ever looked back at somebody and you just wonder what was I on to do that? What happened? Did, you know, did somebody put something in my Coke? What happened that I went that far... See, one of the things that we do with guilt, because it is such a heavy burden to carry, it's a heavy burden because it can only exist in places where you care. It can only exist in places where you care. So it becomes a heavy burden to carry. So what we do is, we change the narrative of what happened to make the memory more palatable. We change the narrative of what happened to make the memory more palatable. We block out the parts we are ashamed of and we remember how people responded to us without remembering how we elicited or initiated the response. Selective amnesia, yeah.
And so, this story that we tell ourselves about what happened causes a certain toxicity to the soul that stops us from getting what God would give us, because God will only fall on truth, and you have told yourself a lie so long that you can't be delivered because you can't admit the truth. I'm gonna go in. Can I go in? I'm gonna go in, now. I'm gonna go in. You already know how I am. Now I'm gonna go in.
There was a man who sat by a pool for 38 years telling himself a lie over, and over, and over again. Here's the lie. "I'm here because every time I try to get in the pool, somebody got in my way and nobody would help me". That's a lie. In 38 years you could have rolled to the pool. In 38 years you could have crawled to the pool. In 38 years how did the other people get to the pool every year? If they got to the pool, then why didn't you get to the pool?
See, the pain of living with those questions creates a false story. "Well, I would have got there but my daddy didn't raise me". "I would have got there, but my mama was a hooker". "I would have got there, but I don't know where I came from". "I would have got there but I flunked out of first grade". "I would have got there, but I'm blind". "I would have got there but I'm a white woman". "I would have got there, but I'm a woman". "I would have got there, but..." These are things we tell ourselves to anesthetize the pain of the weight of, "I brought this on myself".
I did this. And you cannot help people in counseling who will not own what you did. Until you own what happened, until you take responsibility for it, until you stop hiding from the guilt... see, because you're trying to tranquilize the guilt. You know why your daughter disrespected you, you know why she cursed you out, you know what she saw about you and the neighbor across the street, but you blocked out what happened between you and the neighbor across the street, and talkin' about, "I ain't gonna let that girl disrespect me. She just lost her mind," when in reality you... uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh.
You told me to go deep. You know, "I'm not thinkin' about them haters". I'm not a hater, I'm hurt 'cause you beat me like a dog and I'm tellin' the truth. That's not a hater, but you changed the story because the weight of the matter might mean you admitting, "My son is acting crazy because I wasn't a good father and I really wasn't there for him. And he saw things out of me that I wish I hadn't of done, but at that stage in my life, I did it". You have to stop telling yourself, "I don't know why that boy acting crazy". You do. You do know why he's acting crazy, and you're the only one who can fix it because you do know what's wrong with him. And you can't get healed, brother, as long as you telling yourself, "Well, somebody got in the way. Well, it's not my fault, he could have done" — you know what the problem is, but the weight of the guilt — you know that you cannot heal it if you won't own it.
The reason that we do all of these things is to protect our minds from the guilt of what we did at one time or another in one way or another. And it is easier to penalize me for my reaction to your behavior than it is for you to own that you elicited that response by how you treated me. And you leave both of us in the ditch because you are in denial. You will never give me the healing that I need to get on with my life, and we're both stuck in a ditch with the weight that I carry.
Jesus asked people questions like, "Wilt thou be made whole"? Because in most cases, it's not my will to be like this, it's not my will. I didn't choose it. I didn't decide I want to be an angry black man or an angry white man. White folks can be angry too. Anger is an equal-opportunity response. And for that matter, I have met some seriously angry women in my life.
When you say something like that, you don't look at nobody, you look right down the aisle. Why are you angry? Cain, why are you angry? Why has your countenance fallen? God said to Cain, "If thou doest not well will I not receive you"? Are you angry about something you could fix? Guilt that leads to a change of behavior is a powerful thing. Guilt that grabs you by the throat and makes you call me on the phone and say, "Look, I'm sorry," is a powerful thing. It's a wonderful thing for you to be guilty enough to humble yourself, to pull your pride down, and pull your images down, and pull all the lies you told to yourself down, and say, "Look, I miss you and I'm tired of us fighting like this. And whatever I did to hurt you, I'm sorry".
I'm man enough to look you in the eye and say I was wrong and I'm sorry. You'll never be healed till you can fix it. You know why we don't have revivals anymore? I mean, we have three-day services, but we don't have revivals. We don't have revivals 'cause we don't have repentance. You cannot have a revival when you cannot have repentance. As long as everybody comes to church stubborn and saying, "This is my story and I'm sticking to it," I don't care who you bring in to preach, you may have service, you may have church, you may have shouting, you may have dancing, but you won't have revival until, "My people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways. Then will I hear from heaven, I will forgive their sin". And God said, "I will heal your land". It is not our sins that kept us away from God, it is our unwillingness to let them go.
God says, "I will forgive your sin, that's not the problem. I'll forgive your sin. I'll heal your land. That's not the problem. It's not what you did, it's your arrogance. It's your inability to humble yourself". He said, "If you would just humble yourself, if you'd stop making excuses for bad behavior, if you would stop justifying stuff just because you like it... If you would stop doing things because you love them as opposed to doing them because they're right," God says, "It's not the sin, I can fix it. I got the antidote, I got the cure. I shed the blood. I got the key. I can get you out. I'll deliver you. I forgive you. I'll set you free. I'll make it just as if it didn't even happen. I'll clean it up better than your lies are doing. I can clean that up. I got the Brill-O pad, and the soap, and the water.
I will get the stain off of you if you would humble yourself. But because you've been your own physician, because you've been your own attorney, you didn't leave space for me to get you up. You should have thrown yourself on the mercy of the court and said, 'I'm completely guilty. I have no right to be here. I'm a sinner and a wretch undone. Every blessing I ever got is the grace of God. Every door he ever opened was the grace of God. Every mountain he ever moved was the grace of God. I deserved to be burned in hell for the things I've done, but thanks be unto God for every blessing.'"
You see this jacket? It's a blessing. You see these pants? It's a blessing. You see these shoes? That's a blessing. But better yet, you see these feet? That's a blessing. You see these legs? That's a blessing. You see these arms? That's a blessing. I don't deserve none of that. Oh, somebody humble give him a praise.
See, when I teach ministers on exegetical preaching and delivering a text, I tell them, "Never give the answer before you describe the question". Because the answer only has power in the face of the question. If you don't describe the question, the answer has no relevance. So if you jump into this text, and you look at this text, and you see this woman just bathing his feet with her tears and don't see why, then you could think she was radical. She could be a nutcase. She could be crazy. She could be ridiculous. She could be out of her mind. Why is she crying? She won't stop crying. Why does she keep jumping up in the service? She's loud. She's noisy. She's out of control.
Every time the Bishop make a point she's up there doing jumping jacks. Has she lost her mind? I don't wanna sit beside her. She acts like she's crazy. If you don't know the story, you don't understand my response. Come on, here, somebody. But when you know what I've been through, and you know how I've suffered, and you know what I carried, the pain and the agony of what I carried... Am I right about that thing? See, you're praising God 'cause you're cute, and he's praising God 'cause he's fine, and she's praising God 'cause she's rich, and he's praising God 'cause he got a new suit, and she's praising God 'cause she got a Sunday hat on, but I don't care about the hat, the suit, the coat, the shoes, I'm praising God that that weight that weighted me down...
Touch three people and tell 'em, "He took it off of me". Tell your neighbor, "He took it off". And if I never get the car, if I never get the house, if I never get the job, I'll just praise. Guilt that leads me to change is a powerful thing, but what about the guilt about stuff I can't change? I can't get that baby back. I can't get this disease remitted. What about the guilt we carry over the things we can't change? I would fix it if I could. If I had it to do over again, I would change. I was selfish and I'm sorry.
What do you do when the mess you made cannot be cleaned? You can't do it over. I brought the man in the house that raped my daughter. My son got raped by my boyfriend, and he told me, and I called him a liar. Bishop, I would fix it, but the person I did it to is dead. The person who hurt me can't come back because they're gone and I feel like if they would just say, "I'm sorry," I could get well. But what do you do when you can't undo what's been done and you can't fix it? And you are standing there waiting on something to happen that cannot happen.