Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love!
Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion!
2 Wash me completely clean of my guilt;
purify me from my sin!
3 Because I know my wrongdoings,
my sin is always right in front of me. Psalm 51:1-3, CEB
I don’t like the word sin. It scares me. I think a lot of this has to do with past hurts. The word sin was used as a manipulative weapon to coerce me into being “better”. Whatever that means. It’s become a trigger word. I get anxious when someone talks about sin, and I start sweating. It bothers me.
I know many people who are like this, and I know many people who have had this exact experience. I’m perfectly happy to talk about my wrongdoing, the ways in which I don’t follow God, the ways in which I fall short of reflecting God, the ways in which I live independently of God, and my defects of character. I just don’t really want to call any of this “sin” (even though, yeah, I get it, that’s what we’re talking about). I am just tired of being told what a terrible sinner I am by people who don’t even know my name, let alone the details of my rebellion.
I caught a rerun of Seinfeld last night. Elaine got back together with her old boyfriend, David Puddy, only to find out that he’s become a Christian. Elaine asks him, “Does it bother you that I’m not religious?” Puddy responds, “Doesn’t bother me, I’m not the one who’s going to hell.”
Great line. Hilarious moment on a tv show. Not so funny when someone says it to you in real life! And many of us have been on the receiving end of that. I often live in fear, remorse, regret, guilt, shame, and whatever else because I’ve been taught that the only way to relate to God is to feel like a worthless piece of trash.
As I look at the situation, though, I realize the problem is not with sin, or even with God, but with me. I’ve been hurt, yes, but it was a long time ago, I’ve had time to heal. And I have healed. I have carried false beliefs about both God and sin for a long time and it’s prevented me from freely living out my faith.
Do you feel that your past has kept you from freely embracing your faith? What would it take to heal?
More on all of this in a few days.