Guilt vs. Conviction and What to Do About Both

What I’m really hoping by writing this today is that you will feel a tiny bit of freedom when you’re done reading. Since this is a struggle I’m currently facing as a mom, friend, wife, business owner, and well, in pretty much eeeevery aspect of my life, I’m feeling like I’ve become a bit of an expert.

Once you discover there is a difference between guilt and conviction you find you have freedom to alter your frame of mind.

I’m no theologian and I can’t even say I’ve researched this very much but I can say I’ve often, OFTEN felt the the pull of guilt in my life.

My kids are the most misbehaved at this birthday…
I spend too much time working…
I don’t spend enough time working…
We have nothing to talk about on date night, I”m a terrible wife…
The kitchen’s a wreck, I’m a terrible wife/mom/human…
We ate out like 5 times….yesterday…

I could keep this list going. These moments of guilt suck away at confidence and give me the feelings of failure. As failure sits in my heart I begin to believe that is what I am. I have no hope of redemption in these areas as I let guilt and failure take up real estate in my life.


A friend told me for the 3rd or 4th time that one of my children was too angry. I took this personally and I felt like I was failing at teaching him the “right way” to act.

I went home that evening and recounted the day to my husband. He simply said, “But what she saw was 45 minutes of your whole life. She made an assumption based on a tiny sliver of the big picture. Do YOU think there is a serious problem? Do you feel conviction to change how you’re being a mom based off that comment? Or just guilty cause she judged you?”


Guilt is feeling like there’s no hope. Guilt is typically the response of committing an offense and is more the “end of the line” with not much to do after except wallow. Shame tends to come with guilt. Think about the term ‘guilty’ in our legal system.

Conviction generally leads you to change. It’s a feeling that prompts a solution. Conviction comes in two parts, realizing what the issue or error is and then finding a way to fix it. Conviction is not necessarily a pleasant feeling but it’s also NOT a shameful one either.


When we feel guilty it’s usually prompted by someone or something else. A mom makes a snap judgement, you compare yourself to someone on Instagram, you realize your neighbors kitchen is always spotless no matter the time of day.

Conviction tends to come when you’re being still. When you are looking at the areas of your life and, considering nobody else, still feel you’re being prompted to change for the better. Conviction also comes when timing is appropriate.

If you’ve just given birth, ain’t NO way you are going to feel convicted to have a clean kitchen. That’s GUILT sister.


When moments of guilt come into your life hold those thoughts captive. Stop them right there and set them aside. When the moment is calm, the talking has quieted, pull them out and set them out on the table. Use your discernment to decide if it’s guilt or conviction.

If it’s guilt, open the trash and drop them in. If it’s conviction make a plan so it does not TURN into guilt. Find the steps, ask your husband, sister, friend. Bring up the feelings and ask for constructive advice. Maybe they can see something you can not.

Don’t feel guilty when they agree with you or actually GIVE you advice. Remember, conviction leads to change.

If you need a little extra help determining whether you fee guilt vs. conviction, I made a quick “cheat sheet” for you. Print it up and tape it to your mirror until you feel like you can easily tell when something is guilt vs. conviction.

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