I have been dreading writing this weeks blog. Last week was a rough week and I wasn’t a very good Christian, and in all reality, part of me didn’t care. I was rude to people, said and did things I shouldn’t have, and wasn’t the follower of Christ I usually strive to be on a daily basis. THANK GOD FOR GRACE!
I was reminded this week that I am a sinner. No matter how good of a person I am, I still sin. I know very well I am far from perfect, but most of the time I like to think I’m a pretty good person and am picking up my cross and following Christ. I make mistakes here and there, but overall I’m a good person. And yet I still have that sin nature inside of me. I’ve come a long way in my Christian walk and I know I still have a long way to go. But I am so grateful for God’s grace and that I don’t have to earn it, because I would fail miserably!! Without the knowledge and gift of grace I would still be living in a depressed, lonely, miserable world.
I’m also very grateful that I have a direct line to God and I don’t have to ask anyone but Him to forgive my sin. Growing up in Mormonism, when you sin, you are supposed to confess to your bishop. Most things don’t really matter it’s just the “big sins”. When you turn 12 and enter into the young men and women groups you have an interview with the bishop every year around your birthday. I remember this was always nerve racking. I’ve discussed many times how I struggled with not feeling good enough. I think this added to it a lot! Imagine, sitting in an office as a 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 year old girl, knowing that you had your own inner secrets such as cutting, swearing, and depression, that you are expected to confess to some man. In the office it was just the bishop and I. I would sit in front of this man whom my parents knew well, and he would ask me all sorts of questions. The questions were centered around if I was keeping my baptismal covenants (that,at 8 years old, I don’t really remember making). I would be asked about friends, drugs, alcohol, sex, basically if I was keeping my self worthy of a temple marriage. The LDS.org website has an article that listed the following in regards to baptismal covenants: “Strive always to remember and keep the Lord’s commandments. Keep your thoughts, language, and actions pure. When you seek entertainment such as movies, television, the Internet, music, books, magazines, and newspapers, be careful to watch, listen to, and read only those things that are uplifting. Dress modestly. Choose friends who encourage you to reach your eternal goals. Stay away from immorality, pornography, gambling, tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. Keep yourself worthy to enter the temple.” I was a teenage girl!! I didn’t strive to always keep the Lord’s commandments. I just stated at the beginning of this blog, I don’t always do this as an adult! Imagine the guilt, shame, and frustration, that consumed me as a teenage girl already feeling inadequate, already feeling like I wasn’t enough, I could never measure up, and the only way to receive forgiveness was to confess to this man I was sitting in front of, the things I had done wrong, and hope that he would grant that forgiveness to me.
When Brian and I were dating we became very “passionate” several times. We both knew we were doing things we shouldn’t and I believed I wanted to “be worthy” to go to the temple some day. The summer before my senior year of high school Brian moved to another state to live with family and go to college. I was, of course, heartbroken he was so far away. He came home to visit in September and signed up to take the missionary discussions from the LDS missionaries. He took the missionary discussions while he was away at college and I mustered up the courage to go to my bishop and confess about our “passionate” rendezvous. The bishop told me I need to break up with Brian and not see him any more. I didn’t tell the bishop at the time that Brian was away at college. I just told him OK. I tried to be honest, tried to confess, and again I lied. Brian was the love of my life, the bishop didn’t even take any of that into consideration. Again shame, guilt, depression. Hopelessness.
You all know that so far, Brian and I are living happily ever after (I don’t listen to authority figures very well).
As a Christian, I am no longer bound by the chains of a religion that forces me to seek forgiveness for my sin from man. My sin is forgiven. Debt 100% paid. I take my transgressions and wrong doings directly to Christ. The Message Bible 1 John 8-10 says “If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins- make a clean breast of them- He won’t let us down, He’ll be true to Himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.” If we claim that we never sinned, we out and out contradict God- make a liar out of Him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God. Verse 9 is the key, “On the other hand, if we admit our sins- make a clean breast of them- He won’t let us down, He’ll be true to Himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing”. We need to confess our sins to God, not man, not a bishop.
Although my behavior this week most likely wouldn’t have called for me to meet with my bishop and confess anything, I wouldn’t have passed the interview that I would have been required to have with my bishop as a teenager. My language and how I treated others wasn’t very Christlike, but I confessed my sins to God. I am forgiven in Christ Jesus. I am always grateful for the gift of grace and today and am also grateful for mercy.
So often I fall short. I am a perfect sinner. I fall short every day and yet my loving God is quick to forgive me. I am a perfectly imperfect human, made perfect by a loving and faithful God.
I am glad last week is over and I get to start over this week. But the thing that has been on my mind most this week is how grateful I am that I don’t have to sit in front of someone who I go to church with every week and confess my shortcomings to them and ask them to give me the forgiveness that God already promised me in His Word. I’m so glad I don’t have to worry about the shame and fear that would rise up in me when I would walk into the bishops office.
I see my pastor several times a week. There is never fear of judgement, shame, or worry. I know he is a human, just as I am. I know he makes mistakes at times. I know he is also covered by grace.
The biggest struggle this week is that I was focused more on myself and was trying to take control of situations that I have no control over. When I take my eyes off of God I very quickly fall back my sinful self and do things that I later regret.
I’m just small town girl… living in a sinful world. Praying for a better week.