How frequently do you find out you’ve been using a word incorrectly your entire life? For me it was fairly infrequent. Until I started fighting anxiety that is.
All of those words are ones that I had always used without consideration for the real definitions.
You may have noticed that the five words fit into two categories. The first three go together as do the second two.
“I need to do this.” I have lived my life believing so much of what I did was a need when most things are simply induced by my own harsh expectations or those of others. While it is correct to say that a dish needs to be washed, it is not correct to say that I need to do it.
More correctly I should say “I should wash that dish.” It is an obligation of my responsibility to my family to ensure that dishes are clean, therefore I should wash them. But I don’t need to. I won’t die if I don’t.
Want is different entirely. I can want what I need, but wants aren’t needs. I should want what I need, but I am not limited to only wanting what I need. I can want other things. Nonetheless, I need far less than I want, and I want far more than I should.
Now, the last two words are nearly always conflated in common parlance. Guilt is not shame. Shame is not guilt. The two are related, but not the same.
Guilt is a forensic term. It is a statement of fact. “You did the thing.” You are either guilty or you are not. While it may take a jury to sort through the evidence, there should be no doubt in your mind whether or not you did the thing.
Shame on the other hand is how you feel about that guilt. You can have guilt without shame, and you can have shame without guilt. Both of those conditions are dangerous for the soul. One is the main ingredient in damnation, the other is the main ingredient in anxiety. One is cured by the Law and the other is cured by the Gospel. I’m working on the shame problem, Jesus took care of the guilt.
One day I will get my words right. Until then you’ll just have to keep reading these little blog posts.