Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mercy and Love

“However many and however great and burdensome your sins may be, with God there is greater mercy.”
St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, Journey to Heaven

I admit it, I am a perfectionist.

In general, this isn’t too much of an issue. It means that I might take longer with a project to make sure that it gets done thoroughly. It means that I might agonize over a paper for school more than is probably necessary. But it’s just one of those character traits like loving nature or being musical. Except when it comes to my spiritual life.

You see, I love God and so I want to show my love by being perfect. I don’t want to sin. I want to live in God’s grace, to live as close to Him as possible. My perfectionism makes me want to be perfect.

Unfortunately, I’m not. I fall every day and because I am a perfectionist, because I see the prototype and the image of perfection and I also see how far I fall short of it, I plunge into Deep Dark Despair. As in, “Oh woe is me, no one likes me, and no one will ever love me, and how could God even love me? WAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH.”

Well. That’s hardly a helpful attitude. And it’s not the truth either. When I’m in that moment, I’m doing my best to ignore what St. Tikhon said, what Psalm 103 says: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us.” God has mercy. He forgives us. And, no matter what, He loves us.

That kind of blows my mind. See, sometimes we’ll say, “I love you no matter what.” But it isn’t often true. If the person we said that to does something that we see as bad enough, we give up on them. But God doesn’t. He doesn’t give up on them, and he doesn’t give up on us.

I think we should challenge ourselves to show a bit of that unconditional love, that love no matter what. Some of you may have heard of the concept of “paying it forward.” I think we should take that idea and apply it to the forgiveness and love we receive from God. Let’s see how we can touch those in our lives, quietly and without a lot of fanfare, but with strength and courage.


Pam H. August 24, 2008 at 7:59 AM  

Here's a good book about that: How to Profit From Your Faults, by Tissot. Also, St. Therese of Lisieux says God permits our faults to remain so that we will always be humble and dependent on Him - not proud Pharisees. I need this message continually.

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