Friday, September 17, 2010

Sins of the past

My past, O Lord, to your mercy; my present, to your love; my future, to your Providence!
                                                                                         St. Padre Pio

Life is a series of present moments. The past is just a shadow of the present and the future has not arrived yet, so the "here and now" is all anyone can count on with any certainty. Sanctifying each of these present moments, by living in the Divine Will, is our job here on this earth. We may at times fail in this duty but we should not let this discourage us, nor should we dwell on it except to try and see what we can learn from our mistakes. It helps to look at the past as a teacher; we can reflect on what it has taught us without getting caught in its traps. The traps, whether it's focusing on sins you may have committed or on how others have sinned against you, can lead to despair if we dwell on them too much. For those who are discouraged by past sins, it's best to leave it in the hands of Jesus. I have learned this the hard way, of course! Hopefully, my words can help others not make the same mistake. By placing the past in the hands of Jesus, I do not mean to suggest that counseling is not helpful. Often, counseling can help those who have suffered traumas and can speed up the healing process. A third party can often put things into perspective better than we can on our own. It's okay to acknowledge our hurts as long as we don't make them our primary focus by constantly reliving them. In this post I'm talking more about sin in general , not about extremely traumatic experiences.

Satan exists, though he would prefer us to think that he doesn't. This makes his job much easier because he knows we won't gear up for battle if we don't believe there is an enemy. Satan has an army and this army will use any weapon it can to attack us at our weak points if we allow it. One tactic that he uses is to try to keep us living in a past that no longer exists. The Blood of Christ covers the past, to doubt this is to doubt the power of His saving blood. Wounds heal if left to God's mercy. We can see this in our physical bodies, and the physical is a reflection of the spiritual. If we constantly "pick" at a wound, it continues to bleed. It's better to leave it alone and to focus on the present battle while trusting the Divine Physician to take care of our wounds.

It takes guts to face Jesus, admit our sinfulness (or to forgive the sins of those who have harmed us) and then move on. To do this requires not only looking at oneself squarely in the face but also looking God in the eye and saying, "Yes, Lord, I was wrong and I'm sorry." Humans like to be right, after all (lol). To forgive others we must see that our own nature is as prone to sinfulness as theirs. The degree of sin may differ but the tendency to sin is the same since we all have fallen natures. When we refuse to forgive others we condemn ourselves. Forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a choice. We choose to forgive with our will, not our emotions. Emotions cannot always be trusted and can hold us back if we let them rule us. They are good but they are subject to us and we should should not be subject to them.

We may end up with some battle scars in life but at least we can say we had the courage to enter the battle arena. Our scars are our badges of honor and scar tissue is tougher than regular skin. Life's tests make us stronger if we let them. We take our memories, both good and bad, into the present with us. And while the past may be a nice place to visit on occasion...I wouldn't want to live there.


  1. It's so easy to dwell on the past, to keep rehashing the same scenarios in our head over and over, ad nauseum... Heaven knows I've done that many time, and I still struggle with it. As I work to recover from an anxiety disorder, obsessing about things that happened in my past is one of the chief obstacles I'm learning to overcome. You're right that forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. Sometimes it takes a while for our emotions to catch up with our rational side!


  2. Evan,
    Good point about our emotions needing time to catch up! I think rehashing the past is common for many of us but doesn't do a lot of good since it doesn't exist anymore. As I said, I didn't learn this the easy way, unfortunately. I do notice that when I find myself anxious or worried it's usually over the past or future and rarely has to do with right now. My biggest worries usually never happen, I am embarrassed to admit :) It's good to hit the eject button on these negative tapes that play in our minds! We may not have control over what pops into our heads but we DO have control over whether we give it our full attention or not. It's good to "capture our thoughts in Christ". Thanks for commenting!

  3. "And while the past may be a nice place to visit on occasion...I wouldn't want to live there."

    I totally agree. I've had to ask God often to let bad stuff go and focus on His will right now.

  4. I totally needed to read this today. It blessed me right in the place where I needed to be blessed. Thanks, so much. And thanks for the award. I have been too busy lately to think about things like that, but it felt nice to make the list.

  5. Barb,
    Yes, it's seems like a waste of time to go over things again and again when God is the one who heals us. I'm quite sure we interfere with the healing process when we cling to the past.

  6. Let go and let God. Not easy. We need lots of Graces!

  7. Your welcome, Mary! I'm glad the post was helpful to you. In the past I didn't realize how simple God was and I would complicate things instead of leaving them in his hands. I guess it's human nature to attempt to "fix" ourselves.

  8. Colleen,
    Exactly! And I agree, it's not easy! If I had let go and let God right from the beginning I could have saved myself a lot of grief!

  9. As long as we have true contrition and a firm purpose of amendment for our past sins, and have confessed them, they are forgiven. No need to dwell on them. To just bury the past without confession and contrition would be playing into the hands of Satan.

  10. paramedicgirl,
    True! Once sins are confessed the Lord "remembers them no more" and neither should we. Thanks for commenting!