Last night, I went to bed melting in fulfillment from spending the past few hours with a dear friend of mine. We smoked an unhealthy amount of cigarettes- it was warm amongst dead and falling leaves instead of the typical, bitter ten degrees. As tobacco embers continued burning, our conversation kept going back to the nature of sin, what is relevant sin, and should we even care about certain sins at our age, and to be honest, after the past couple of months I’ve stopped caring.
What sin has taught me recently is not that I deserve shame or a slower flowing stream of grace compared to another brother or sister in Christ. The nature of my sin, which bloomed with the radical changes in my life, called out for something deeper than just my inability to be a functioning and faithful servant. Though I gained comfort in physicality and was enlightened by the vulnerability provided by its leisure, it was a lonely call. And though substance produced a number of beautiful relationships with others, it only masked the anger I continued to store. I was missing and craving the hands of strong men around me, and even more craving to reach the dwindling relationship with the one true provider of security, and angry I couldn’t.
I no longer want to look at sin as if it’s the dirt beneath my fingernails that has to be cleaned out or covered up at all costs. I am sinful. I have dirt stored up in my nails and am unreasonably quick to act on impulses. I have bruises on my palms from taking stumbling steps backwards, but I think band-aides are also very smart to carry around. I often refuse to acknowledge what I’ve done wrong and stick my nose in the air until God forces my feet to trip into the stagnant and foul smelling hole I’d been secretly digging for myself. And then my whole body is dirty- not just my fingers.
I think maybe sin is relative. I think instead of comparing the ways in which we all separate ourselves from the Lord, we should gather as much courage as our meek bodies are capable of mustering in order to be honest with the One who we can’t help but be honest with, and take solace in community and friendship. There are some people, illustrated by the spurring of this topic with a good friend, who share with me an unmasked vulnerability. There is a mutual understanding of the very different places that every human being is in, emotionally and spiritually.
Sin takes us on a journey that either leads us through gloriously colorful canyons- cooled by the night, rained upon, swept through with relentlessly rising waters- or it’ll lead followers down dry and dark paths of desperation. I think maybe sin is also entirely inevitable. And I think it is entirely up to us whether or not we choose to live in limitless grace and spirit. I believe it to be possible, and want to be able to say I’m pursuing adventure and love and the calm steady hand of the guiding spirit. And I can do this despite the dirt, bruises, and I’m sure numerous counts against spiritual qualification.
What I have learned about my sin is that it is inevitably going to dump me at the foot of the cross, and I can either live a fulfilling life with the cross always in sight, or with it set in the rear, for me to repeatedly be forced and messily pulled back to it.