Reconciling with Myself

With Lent just around the liturgical calendar, I am spending some time pondering things I wish I had done differently.  They fit into the categories of would haves, should haves, and/or could haves.  Perhaps this annual ritual of mine is a holdover from my Jewish roots. There is a period of ten days between the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah- the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur- the Day of Atonement, during which Jews are supposed to reflect on how they lived their lives during the past year. Yom Kippur is spent in fervent prayer to God asking for the forgiveness of one’s past sins and looking forward to a year without sin. Perhaps it is simply that Lent draws me into self-reflection on my side of my covenant with God.
I think one of the most difficult things I have to do is forgive myself. It’s giving me permission to no longer be held by the bounds of a particular sin that can be such a difficult thing to do. God has forgiven me, so why can’t I? Yet, isn’t that what God calls me to do- to forgive even myself? I do not think I am alone in this conundrum.
In his book, Thoughts in Solitude, Thomas Merton wrote “I am seen by You under the sky and my offenses have been forgotten by You- but I have not forgotten them.” Merton goes on to say “Remembering that I am a sinner, I will love You in spite of what I have been, knowing that my love is precious because it is Yours, rather than my own. Precious to you because it comes from Your own Son, but precious even more because it makes me Your son.” Merton’s words help me to reconcile with myself. They help me to see that forgiveness grows out of love and love as we all know, comes from God.
An interesting thing about my sins is the pall, the dreariness they create in my life. They separate me from God in such a way that I find myself mentally trudging through the debris of the sins to find my way back to that inner sense of peace I feel when I am focused on being the individual God has called me to be without all the fanfare of my own ego. It’s really so much easier, so much more pleasant to do things the way the Holy Spirit leads me.
Most merciful God, I have sinned against You in thought, word and deed by what I have done and what I have left undone. I have not loved You with my whole heart, I have not loved my neighbor as myself. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and forgive me that I may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of Your name.
Help me, gracious Lord, to use my gifts to the honor and glory of Your Name. Sustain my spirit with Your love that I might forgive not only others but also myself through Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

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