It’s almost a choking sensation. It grabs me by the throat and nearly cuts off my air supply. I look upwards for help, but God seems impossibly far away. Nobody else is around. I focus my energy on one breath at a time. In, one, two. Out, one, two. Maybe I can get through this.
Not too long ago, I committed some terrible crimes. No, I didn’t break any laws–except God’s. Blind, young, and selfish, I didn’t realize how terribly stupid I was being, nor did I realize that maneuvering the outcome would be like untangling a knot.
I couldn’t go back, so I moved on. I tried to make the best of a pathetic situation. I didn’t ask people to feel sorry for me, but I did hope they would leave me alone. And mostly, they did. It was my own thoughts which tormented me, without any need for anybody else’s bullying.
Most likely, there were people who cursed my existence and prayed that God would punish me for life. They secretly wished that I would suffer for what I had done. They didn’t want me to be happy, but I defied their expectations. Or did I?
That’s the trouble: how can I continue to be repentant for the wrongs I’ve done in the past, while at the same time enjoy my life in the present? My sinful history always threatens to tip the uneasy balance I’ve managed to obtain. Then, the choking starts. How can I go on another moment? Why doesn’t God just strike me dead? Am I not enough of a stain on His Name?
Today, I came to a startling realization: I need to be brave.
Brave enough to face my past…while stepping out into my future. Yes, it’s good to learn from our mistakes. It’s good to try and understand why we did what we did, to unravel the complexities of human nature. But if that’s as far as we get, we haven’t gone far enough. We need to move forward from there, and apply what we’ve learned toward something constructive. And if we’re going to do that, we can’t be wimpy.
It takes a strong person to admit, Yes, I did those horrible things. But, it takes a stronger person yet to say, I’m not going to let it ruin my life.
That’s not to condone callousness. We shouldn’t brush our sins aside as if they mean nothing, pretending they aren’t really that bad. No. It’s crucial that we acknowledge who we are and what we’ve done, and stare our filthy reflection straight in the face. We must grieve our wrongdoings, and sorrow over the hurt we’ve caused others. However, if we’re still alive, it’s because God has a purpose for our existence. To live in continuous apology and regret doesn’t coincide with the fact that He’s forgiven us (after we’ve sincerely confessed and repented of our sins). We have to let go of our shame at some point, and choose to live in the freedom His forgiveness grants us.
Even though God for some reason hasn’t “come to the rescue” (fixed everything to my liking), He’s linked each day together into a strand leading to where I am now, and to where He plans for me to be tomorrow. Each day is building up to something, something that I don’t quite understand, but that I’ll find out eventually. My ugliness, my failures, my wickedness–(could it be?)–He is stringing into a human ornament: me.