(Do we NEED to believe in God in order to forgive ourselves? I hope not… but, maybe we do? Or at least, maybe MANY of us do???)
So, I mentioned that I had been going back and forth with a friend about religion, etc…
One of the many links/articles she sent me was a link to this article called “The Adulteress: A Stone’s Throw from Grace” (found here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/tcw/2007/julaug/4.58.html?start=2)
Now, she sent this, because she was trying to explain how she is NOT judging gay people, or ANYONE… and, how GOD doesn’t want to condemn people to hell… how Jesus Saves, etc. As in the story, Jesus didn’t condemn the adulteress but says the old “let he who has not sin cast the first stone”. Now… of course I’ve heard this story, and this message a million times. Well, I finally read the article she sent me anyway… and, one part, towards the end, struck me. I felt a light bulb “ah-HA moment”.
It was this part:
“We hear you, Lord. What a relief to know that because of your grace, we can leave behind the past, as this woman did, and walk in a whole new direction.”
Now, like I said, this message is nothing new. What clicked was how it pertained to judging, and guilt… and “forgiveness”.
What suddenly became really clear to me, is that many people feel awful guilty about some past mistakes. People beat themselves up over things – for years. People want to change… desperately sometimes. They might not want to “be” that person that made those mistakes. They try to say, “that wasn’t even really me”…. “I wasn’t myself then”. They don’t want to accept it WAS themselves that did whatever it was they feel guilty about. But, no matter they try, they can’t shake it. They can’t accept that the “good person” they want to be, would make the “bad” mistakes they’ve made.
I think, finding “God”, and believing that he could love them… in spite of their sins… allows people to love themselves again. Forgiveness, gives back respect…. allows us to start over for real… and believe we can to do it… that we are worthy of it. Just like the adulteress in that story. After all, if GOD could forgive her and love her… of course we can forgive her, or ourselves too, right?
I don’t know why this is all so interesting to me all of a sudden. I’ve heard countless stories from folks with very checkered pasts, who become born again… starting their lives over… the new and improved versions of themselves. They can go from the biggest axe-murderer low-life – to being a preacher – just like that – because they found God, and he forgave them. It actually was a pet peeve of mine when I was a teen. Heck, my teen leader was one of them (and he was pretty creepy). I didn’t think I should listen to him when a month ago he was a big drug addict and loser, just because now he’d “found God”.
I’ve also realized for years that religion helped people cope… period. With whatever. And, maybe they needed it, for whatever reasons. In my mom’s case, because of her illness and to deal with how she grew up. Or to deal with loss… grief. I’ve even envied others at times because I couldn’t seem to get any comfort myself from religion with all my skeptical views. So, the “needing” religion isn’t a new idea to me either.
But, I am getting a different side of this now… I’m having trouble explaining what I mean, though. I‘m not even sure it’s the forgiving ourselves aspect that I’m finding so interesting here. Surely, this is not a new concept either? But, I’m seeing it with a new twist. Maybe people need religion in order to live with themselves? Maybe, it really does “save” us, but not from hell… but, from our own guilt?
Maybe sometimes, we just can’t accept mistakes we’ve made. Maybe we can’t except the fact that we are HUMAN and WILL make mistakes? We create our own prison… Trapped in our own personal hell… And, then, maybe we need God, or the idea of God, to be able to forgive ourselves and find the strength to free ourselves of guilt so we can move on. ?
Is it so bad to admit that we are just human? Can we not admit when we make a mistake… and say, “yeah, I fucked up. Bad!”, and just try to learn from it? I don’t mean shrug it off, and not care. I’m all for owning up and accepting responsibility. But, can’t we do that and try to understand how it happened? Try not to let it happen again? and, try to move on? Of course we all make mistakes. Do we need to have a God to forgive us and love us, in order to love ourselves?? Maybe some of us do? Maybe all of us do?
Which leads me to my bigger light-bulb feeling.
Do I need this???
Is that part of my problem?
That I can’t forgive myself for whatever terrible things I’ve done? Including things that were not even my fault?? And, I don’t have enough faith to believe in a God that can forgive me either?
Would *I*, or any of us, even have felt THAT kind of guilt if we didn’t have religion and God shoved down our throats in the first place???
I don’t know…
Talk about vicious circles…
This is not really coming out right and I’m having trouble explaining my “ah-HA moment”. Sorry if I’m rambling incoherently. 😉
I am going to have to mull this one over a bit…