Friday, December 30, 2011
It's funny, but when I want to sin, I begin to take steps towards isolation. I make sure that the very people I should have around me aren't around. I make preparations, and then I dive in!
I've seen this pattern not only in my own life, but in the lives of friends. From what I've observed it's a twofold pattern: First, we hide because we want to continue in our sin. And Second (after sinning), and perhaps most telling, we hide because we are full of shame.
One peaceful innocent day, (birds chirping in trees and all that) my little nephew Noah (who was 4 at the time) was playing with my 3-year-old David. Melissa and Noah's mom (Rachael) were enjoying some quiet time together in the kitchen as the boys were finally playing quietly and not harassing them. By "harassment" I mean stuff like hanging on their legs, whining through their noses for food and just plain being a pain in the poor mothers' hinder-regions.
Eventually Noah sauntered into the kitchen with a request/demand for his mom - probably something having to do with food. Rachael noticed that he had a huge red ring around his mouth and asked what he'd been up to.
Noah - "What ring? I haven't been up to anything. Why would I be doing anything? I have been doing absolutely nothing!"
Rachael - "Where's David?"
Noah - "I don't know. How would I know where David is? Where is David? Why do you ask? Have you seen David? I haven't seen David anywhere!"
Poor Noah was totally losing his cool (and I added a little for dramatic effect - I wasn't there, so it could have gone just like I said). Since Noah had "no idea" where David was they went on a David hunt. And eventually they found two little feet poking out from under the bed in the guest bedroom. (Knowing David, I'm sure the feet were kicking.)
When Rachael and Melissa looked under the bed, the mystery of Noah's red ring was instantly solved. (Now if you're a mom, you're going to cringe because you've been here.) Apparently David and Noah, had found some red jello powder and were feverishly licking it off (and into) the carpet. Don't ask why, these things just happen.
Well, it's sort of like me. When I want to do something I know I shouldn't, I isolate myself like in the verse above. And then after I've done whatever misdeed I had planned (nothing so heinous as licking powdered jello into a carpet mind you) I am overwhelmed with shame.
So here's where my actions become very curious, especially as a Christian. Rather than running to Jesus and admitting my fault, I will typically wallow around in shame long enough until I feel I have either payed my dues, done my penance or straightened myself up. Then I will repent.
A friend of mine said that there shame really has no place in the Christian life. I think I agree. Shame is prideful. Shame is saying, "I deserve to feel really bad for what I've done, so I will, and when I've punished myself enough, I can go to God a little more dressed up - not quite so nakedly guilty." Sounds like the garden doesn't it?
So here's to sticking close to our counselors, not isolating ourselves and when we have done so immediately running to our God with red jello still dripping off our mouths. Now I think that that is real repentance.