The most extraordinary thing happened yesterday. I was overcome by my own sin.
It was a beautiful thing.
You see, I don’t know if I saw how far I still need to go, how painful sin is, the true beauty of Christ’s forgiveness, or my own desperate yearning for God until I got a glimpse of it all yesterday, as it was written on the back of the 2×4 that went upside my head.
This weekend my family and I took a quick trip to Florida to see the Nationals play the Mets for the first game of Spring Training. We had a hotel on the beach and I made it a point to wake up at 6:30 to see the sun rise. On Sunday, it was cloudy. As I sat awake I thought about getting the boys up to go to Church — there was a massive Catholic church literally across the street from our hotel and we had a ton of time. But instead I heard myself saying ‘Ah, let me give them a break this weekend.’
Give them a break. From God. Good thinking, Heather. Have you learned nothing? Felt nothing the past few months?
Could you not keep watch one hour?
Combine that with breaking my lenten promise for the third time — Ah, Jesus will understand. I’m on vacation! He knows that humans are weak — and a litany of other sins that I won’t get into and I was batting 1,000.
Fast forward to yesterday. I’m at church and can’t receive the body of Christ because of my sins. I only have two more weeks before I will need to go back to work, so this time in church is particularly precious right now and running out fast. The effects of what I had done starting sinking in. This hurt, bad.
Ah, but Mondays are Adoration days at my Church, so at least I could spend some quality time with God. Nope. Not so fast. God had another surprise. At the end of Mass my priest made an announcement. There would be no adoration today due to a diocese meeting. Strike two. My heart sank.
Well then, I will confess immediately.
Strike three. There would be no confessions due to the same meeting. I was out, through and through. And I went down looking, not swinging.
Panic set in. I felt alone, just me, myself, and my sins with no where to go.
Where else would I go?
My heart squeezed up into a little ball near my neck and stayed there. I sped home in search of a church that had confessions. 7 pm was my only option, giving me the glorious luxury (yes, that’s sarcasm) of living in sin for the whole damn day.
Father Barron says that Lent is a time to strip away distractions so you can really see your weaknesses and what’s keeping you from God.
Despite my focus on my faith the past few months, Lent didn’t settle in too seriously with me this year. Now I see that it might be exactly because of my focus that it didn’t. Maybe I am a bit too big for my britches.
Whatever the case, yesterday was very much a glimpse of how far I need to go on my journey. How much more I need to do. How hard it will be. How quickly I can fall into sin, and how ugly living in it is.
Yesterday also gave me a little peek into how much I long to be with God personally, a feeling that is still very new and was utterly shocking in its intensity. I have come at this “religion thing” quite academically, I think. But yesterday the thought of going a few days without the wonderful peace and love of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist because of my sins was desperate. Truly desperate. A 2×4 on the back of the head.
My final gift of the night. Confession. I begged for forgiveness for my sins — new and old, as many more were brought to light as I sat and stewed all day. I prayed for strength to keep them away. I thanked God for his Mercy.
And my heart was freed.
Seriously, the sins, the anxiety completely left my mind. I couldn’t concentrate on them if I tried. I went home and settled in with the kids. God is goooood.
This mornings reading was, of course, perfectly appropriate. At this point, I would expect nothing less. After all, I am not His first rodeo.
Hear the word of the LORD, you rulers of Sodom! Give ear to the teaching of our God, you people of Gomor’rah! Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow. “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 1:10, 16-20