Sin, Guilt and Forgiveness
Why this post being 3 days late won't weigh on me anymore
Forgiving, Forgetting, Guilt, Hope and Sin
A personal reflection on how I’m a pharisee trying to live Christ's life
What does it mean to be playing a game you’re bound to lose at some time? This has been the problem I’ve struggled with for years, especially ever since I came to know Christ. And more importantly, when you make a mistake, what do you do then? The trouble is, while my faith gives me space to forgive, and to understand my condition as a human, our culture carries a far heavier weight that is placed on me as I move from point to point in life, with far less mercy in the proceedings than is holy to give.
What is the human condition that I need to hold onto? The language of my Christian faith names it sin. Sin as an abstract is hard to point down, but at its core, it’s the unique condition of humans to deviate from our true nature. We all would like to believe that mankind naturally would be good rather than evil, if only because we want to believe that we’re better than our mistakes, our wars and our fights. So why then do we continue to mess up so much? Well, the condition Christian Theologians call it is Sin. To defy and separate ourselves from God. That we have in ourselves an incapability to truly reach what we always wanted.
In my life around school, I know there’s a lot of different things that I didn’t get a chance to do. In fact, these days things like the gym, studying and what have you have all become things I regret not doing, or getting stuck in dead end clubs or ventures that I regret getting involved in for the long run. But then why did I join them or neglect to take care of my body? Well, part of it I suggest is because I was curious, or that I needed to figure out who I was. That’s no sin. For the deeper things though, the time wasted, the friends not seen or the words both said and unsaid, there are many things which I will be aware of for years to come. Friends I lost touch with, things I could have passed on and so forth.
And I still succumb in these days as well. Fall prey to my lusts, pride and desire for easy pleasure. So, how do I deal with this? I scold. And in some ways, that makes things worse because I cannot truly discipline myself away from something I enjoy in the moment. Not without reaching for something of equal or greater value. And that’s always the thing that haunts me. It’s too often I forget there’s greater things than just another flash game or more cookies or what have you. So I live in perpetual guilt, anger and frustration with myself not becoming what I thought I would be. I even find myself using my theatrical imagination to imagine situations where I would snap, lash out against anyone with my own sense of inadequacy and anger fueling my raging against any way I could be changed.
And yet, I refuse to believe that I will be trapped within myself. I want to know that there’s someone out there I’m trying to please beyond just people on this earth, and that in the end, even if I don’t measure up, I will end up having a final judgment on how well I did as a person. How does this tie into being trapped within myself? Well, in Christianity, one of the key passages, John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believe in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” This eternal life though goes beyond merely what the future has in store for me. The eternal life as I’ve learned from teachers such as Parrella is also a state of mind. Of seeing the special wrinkles in time which makes life seem much shorter than it might or might not be.
The thing that I’ve needed to do the most is that I’ve needed to forgive myself. I made a promise to myself when I began dating that no matter what happened if there was a breakup, I would never allow myself to hate that person afterwards. This promise to myself has also carried over into my desire to find a way to forgive all who trespass against me. However, the one thing that I’ve found the most troubling is that for all my grandstanding, I hold myself to a higher standard altogether, and more often won’t forgive myself for certain acts. This is my great burden, and it also has me better understand how Christ can both say that we must carry a cross after him, but that his burden is light and easy.
For all my posturing on self guilt and anger, what I do find light and easy is my ability to reach out to others thanks to years of practice and cultivating an open heart. And thus stepping in for others is light and easy. However, the weight I bear on my heart and in my mind are so much heavier for my own shortcomings. So what I really need to seek out is a way to translate my compassion for others and turn that into forgiveness for myself. Because the power of sin is great, and as God forgives us, I need to forgive myself and move on from the weight I place on myself.