Step 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
19 “This is the basis for judgment: The light came into the world, and people loved darkness more than the light, for their actions are evil. 20 All who do wicked things hate the light and don’t come to the light for fear that their actions will be exposed to the light. John 3:19-20, CEB
The basis for judgment is not goodness or perfection but willingness to be exposed to “light”. We fear coming to the light but this is ironic because it’s exposure to light that gives us life. Because of this, we must be aware of two dynamics when it comes to our relationship to God.
- Living in the light implies we must live in reality (as we’ve discussed ad nauseum).
- Living in shame is as inappropriate a response to reality as denial is.
Living unnecessarily cautious lives because we think God wants to smack us is not faith, it is fear. Faith is not about maintaining a self image that is so negative that we become lifeless. When we live this way we become like children who are told not to touch anything in the museum or you don’t get to have ice cream afterwards. We walk very carefully in the middle of the room, not really seeing or experiencing anything. We’re interested in the reward that comes from not messing up, but we lose the moment. In the process, we miss all of the beauty that is around us. When we do this, we have not received the gift of life. We have received a distorted image of the truth and it paralyzes us.
Living in reality is not the same thing as living in shame. It acknowledges the truth but it receives the gift. Acknowledging the truth means that we recognize who we are and receiving the gift means that, somehow, we believe that God loves us. The path towards reconciliation is the one where we allow ourselves to be exposed, but this does not imply perfect living. It just means perfect recognition.
Perfect recognition does not mean we always live with perfect clarity about who we are. It just means that we’re continuously willing to examine and re-examine. In the process, we become more and more free which, in turn, creates within us the capacity to love well.