Saturday, November 10, 2012

Acknowledging sin

I was listening to Father Barron's Catholicism Series last night, and he mentioned something that stuck with me.  He said something about the difference between Christians (and people from certain other religions) and the secular world, is often the difference between knowing we are sinners and not knowing it.

Someone who knows he is a sinner and knows he needs to ask forgiveness no matter how hard it is, will be quite different and react quite differently from someone who would rather ignore the fact that they are a sinner.

As a parent, it is easy for me to get mad at my kids and blame them when things don't go as planned, even if it isn't entirely their fault.  It's not easy to let go of pride and say I'm sorry.  I think it's even harder when you don't even believe in sin or God, or that we are all sinners who need forgiveness.

I have seen two dear friends go through their spouse cheating on them in recent years, and I have a theory:  faced with such guilt over something like this, a person really only has two options.  Either a) you acknowledge your sinfulness, you ask forgiveness and you try your hardest to make things as right as they can possibly be again, or b) you blame the other person for what you did, for this and that reason, whatever, it's the other person's fault that you did what you did, you were pushed to do it.

Case number one : through heartbreak and deception, Friend #1 prayed and prayed and prayed and had friends and family praying daily.  Through prayer and by the grace of God, Spouse #1 decided to eventually go for option a).  Spouse #1 asked forgiveness, went to confession, got rid of the demons clouding his soul and MADE it right again.  Now this couple is even stronger than it was before.  That isn't to say that their struggles are over, but they made it over this huge hurdle, and never mind how bad the sin was, they are BOTH my heroes today.

Case number two : Spouse leaves Friend #2, and moves in with partner instead.  It wasn't so apparent at the start I think, but with time, ex-Spouse #2 has been making Friend #2's life harder and harder.  Friend tries to support ex-Spouse in parenting, Ex-Spouse doesn't return the favour.  Ex-Spouse often puts the blame on Friend for things that aren't really his fault.  Stuff like that.  This person has become so bitter towards my friend that it would seem that it is now rubbing off on their child.  For some inexplicable reason, seemingly not due to any specific event, the child suddenly no longer wishes to see my friend, and wants nothing to do with him anymore.

This kind of situation breaks my heart.  It is so sad to see others suffering simply because people WILL not accept that they are guilty about something and deal with it.

I have a second theory:  it is always easier to blame the other person for something you did, something you didn't do, something you are not doing, or something you did wrong than it is to acknowledge it and make it right.  For someone who does not believe in sin, or inherent sinfulness, let alone their own tendency to sin, blaming others instead easily becomes the default option for guilt or pride.  Whatever it is that went wrong, whatever it is you are wrong about, whatever it is you did wrong, it's either all in the other person's head or it is their own fault.

Getting through to someone like that is like banging your head against a brick wall.  It matters not, how much evidence you may have to the contrary, they will always be right and you will always be wrong, and if you start to make them uncomfortable with too much evidence they will get mad at you and tell you to stop annoying, nagging, or harassing them.  Truth is an inconvenient thing and they would rather shut Truth up than have to listen to it.