I thought I knew what “worldly sorrow” meant—and that it wasn’t much of an issue for me—but oh how wrong I was.
“Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation … but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)
Whenever I used to hear this verse, I always thought godly sorrow meant genuinely regretting your sins, while worldly sorrow meant being upset about the consequences of sin. In other words, you’re not sorry for what you did—you’re sorry you got caught.
Makes sense, right? Pretty cut and dry?
Nope! Turns out there’s another interpretation of “godly sorrow” and “worldly sorrow”:
“Godly sorrow inspires change and hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Worldly sorrow pulls us down, extinguishes hope, and persuades us to give in to further temptation. True repentance is about transformation, not torture or torment. When guilt leads to self-loathing or prevents us from rising up again, it is impeding rather than promoting our repentance.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf)
Now THAT hits closer to home. Because I, for one, am very prone to getting bogged down in shame when I do something wrong. And it takes me way too long to rise up again.
But I’m working on it. And I hope you are too. Because this is something I think a lot of us struggle with.
So, I’m here to tell you some pretty eye-opening truths …
👉 Turns out you can feel heartfelt regret WITHOUT self-loathing.
👉 You can actually move forward and change WITHOUT getting stuck in the swamp of shame.
👉 You can hope in a better future DESPITE your past mistakes.
👉 And you can find peace in Christ instead of despair. (Or, to put it a better way, you can CHOOSE peace instead of despair. Because it truly is your choice.)
So the next time you find yourself feeling worldly sorrow—hating yourself and feeling like a failure for your sins and mistakes—try not to stay in that dark place. Embrace the gift of repentance and let God transform you instead of letting Satan torment you.
After all, there’s no need to “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” when your Savior already did that for you.
(Quote and graphic from the article “Godly Sorrow”)