Photo via Enjuley Evers
The more I explore my Catholic faith and grow deeper in my relationship with Christ, and the more I access the sacraments and spend time in prayer, the more I realize just how sinful I am.
I don't think it's that I'm becoming more sinful, just that God is opening my eyes to parts of myself I was blind to before. It seems like He was protecting me from my own sinfulness until I reached a point in my life where I was standing on firm enough ground to not be crushed by it.
Sometimes it does feel like I will be crushed by it, though. I go to confession and the next day I realize I have sinned again and it starts to plague me. My initial reaction was to turn towards self-hatred, to isolate so that my sinfulness wouldn't hurt anyone else, and to brood over how terrible a person I am.
But in my torment over my sinfulness, a friend of mine delivered a serious truth-bomb: "You're so upset over your sins, but that's your pride! You are sinful, you're human! You shouldn't be surprised by that. Instead, be surprised when you avoid sin and give thanks to God for that!"
I am even more sinful than I thought!
I thought I was going to crumble completely. I cried for myself for the first time in over a year.
At the same time, I was reading Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Philippe. He points out that, "Our confidence in God must go at least that far: to believe that He is good enough and powerful enough to draw good from everything, including our faults and infidelities."
He says that God gave us free will, so we do have the ability to choose sin. Then, when we choose good, it is sincerely our choice and not robotic obedience. Since the fall, though, sin has become our tendency. But all is not lost.
It says in Romans 11:32, "For God has imprisoned all in disobedience so that He may be merciful to all."
Our sinfulness separates us primarily from God. But since we are sinful we have even more reason to lean on God, to draw close to Him. It is proof that we are dependent on Him and He uses our occasions of sin to show us His mercy.
If we didn't sin, there wouldn't be any mercy at all! That would be tragic.
It is certainly true that God turns bad things into things that are even better than they could have ever been otherwise.
So in occasions of sin we can run to Him. He will never turn His back on us- in fact, if we are sincere in our longing for Him and His mercy, He will welcome us with open arms and with more love and mercy than we can even comprehend.
Fr. Philippe offers us a prayer to turn to in times of discouragement due to sin:
"Lord, I ask Your pardon, I have sinned again. This, alas, is what I am capable of doing on my own! But I abandon myself with confidence to Your mercy and Your pardon, I thank You for not all allowing me to sin even more grievously. I abandon myself to You with confidence because I know that one day You will heal my completely and, in the meantime, I ask You that the experience of my misery would cause me to be more humble, more considerate of others, more conscious that I can do nothing by myself, but that I must rely solely on Your love and Your mercy."