Last week, I was getting bent out of shape about my sinfulness. I examined my conscience for a very long time, in the hopes that I would be able to go to confession. I even wrote a list of my sins because I wanted so badly to be completely clean. The only problem was that I wasn’t able to go to confession, and so I was left feeling like a sinful leper who had a list of her shortcomings in her back pocket. I carried them around with me all day (literally), feeling the ugliness of them, and unable to focus on much else.
On this day, we were also visiting parishes in Atlanta, trying to get to know youth ministers and see how we could pray for them. While we only came into contact with one youth minister, at least three of the parishes had Eucharistic Adoration going on while we were visiting. (This isn’t uncommon in Atlanta, by the way. What a blessing!) As I knelt before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament at the first parish, I told Him just how ugly I felt because of my sins. As I was praying, I started to think about the cross and all that it took to get Jesus to that place. It was my sin that put Him there. But above that, before my sin, it was His love for me that put Him on that cross. It was His intense, burning, and passionate love for me. I felt that I could breathe easier when I thought about His love for me. I realized that part of me had been unconsciously thinking and acting as if I had to go to confession so that I could earn back Jesus’ love. That wasn’t true at all. That has never been true. Jesus has always, in every moment, looked upon me with love, even in the most sinful times of my life. My sin cannot erase His love for me, but in confession, His love for me can erase my sin.
I continued that day with a heart that was much less weighed down. I was still eager to go to confession, only this time it was not out of fear of losing God’s love. It came out of a desire to embrace His mercy that He longs to give me.
“After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important [the virtue] may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God.” -C.S. Lewis