There is Redemption

Those of you who may or may not have followed me over the years with my sparse posting may have caught on to one of the fundamental aspects of my writing here. While I’ve no doubt had my share of personal issues, and thus have elected in them not to post for extended periods of time, I think this latest encounter in my spiritual life leaves me no option but to resume posting.

You see, our lives are a mishmash of moments. One situation bleeding into another, sticky-edged and never quite making a graceful fade. We do not live scenic lives with a graceful curtain falling between topics, but rather end up harried and sometimes frenzied as our day-to-day meanderings overlap and muddy themselves. If we are not careful, we lose ourselves in those moments. We cease to have control over our daily decisions, not just about what we do, but who we are.

In essence, we cease to live and end up being lived.

Now as I go through and revamp parts of this site, expand others, and clarify stories and lessons that I hope my readers will identify with and use for tools of their own growth, I realize just how much I, myself, was being lived.

One of the hallmarks of the things I have written about time and time again is the suffering of guilt, and the tentative reaching for hope. Part of me now returns to a tiny passage in an old series of books by Stephen R. Donaldson, “The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever”. To understand, one must realize that Thomas Covenant, the main character, was the definition of anti-hero. He was an unlikeable sort but not in the purile, superficial ways. The series must be read to completely understand, but the aside I’m referring to is a book Thomas writes in the series entitled “Or I Will Sell My Soul for Guilt”.

The title of that book bore some introspection, and has stuck with me through the years. It’s a fictional book in a work of fiction but the very name suggests the possibility of selling our souls for guilt… can we? Do we? Make no mistake, guilt may be the fiercest lash ever put to our backs, but to keep ourselves wrapped up in it, what do we give up?

I’m not good enough.

I’m not worth anything.

I’ve done so much wrong.

I cannot be redeemed.

These are not unfamiliar thoughts to most of us. In fact, these thoughts reoccur in with alarming regularity in the vast majority of us. It seems the world is lined up to tell us these very things, and then probably sell us something to change the situation. What then can we do?

During this last interlude, I encountered 2 things which made me realize, on a sea-change level, just what selling our souls for guilt was. First I encountered a book, “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl. In all the books I’ve read, nothing comes as close as this single, smallish title in encapsulating the situation of our soul. The vital quote is, in this context;

For the meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person’s life at a given moment.

Guilt is a search for worth when we believe we have none. It is a ruinous paradox we put ourselves in, denying even hope as a means of escape. But Frankl disproves this. He reminds us that guilt is past, and the full meanings of our lives is ours to determine at whatever moment we find ourselves in. There is no “overarching” meaning to our lives that we can tenably rely upon in the present, only that which we decide and take responsibility for, every moment we live. This is a great thing, a glorious thing. We are responsible for who we are, the architects of who we become day to day. This, my friends, is something to celebrate.

Nothing is more liberating than to know that our meaning is within our purveyance. Nothing is more anethema to guilt.

But what of redemption?

As much as I’d like to put redemption in the personal responsibility category, I cannot. Redemption is God’s alone. However, in the throes of guilt, it is an awfully hard thing to see, or even imagine. However, it is there. I now know it is.

I have met someone special, a person who inspires all others around her to be better just by being who she is. No, I am not putting her on a pedestal, of course. She is human. But when you meet and connect with a heart that runs as pure in intent and deliberation of the course of their life as hers does, you find yourself inspired.

Let me be honest. I have my past. I have a trunk full of regrets that I’ve been hauling along behind me all my life. I have done things that read like a catalogue of sinful behavior. Intellectually, I always believed in redemption. Spiritually, I always had hope that if I soldiered on, eventually I may incur some sort of “holy pity” and be forgiven.

Imagine my shock when I meet this soul who inspires, and she is willing to let those things of my past go. Imagine how real redemption seemed when she said “now is good enough”. Imagine how true Frankl’s words rang when I realized that now is the time I can determine who I am, what my meaning is, and it would be ok.

We will always have repercussions, fallout from our mistakes. Our sins may be erased, but their effects may linger long afterward… but I have been blessed, doubly so, in redemption and what can only be called a physical example of that redemption. The first breaths are the sweetest when one swims up from dark waters. The first sights are the most sublime when one has lived in the depths.

Redemption is there, my friends. God’s hand extends down to help us up. We are Pilgrim, with Apollyon on our chests, but He is there to help us rise. Perhaps I am one of the rare and fortunate to find someone who can exemplify this, but it need not be a person, a love, or a friend. What I am saying is seek out example of redemption. If nothing else, the story of Paul demonstrates that God is beyond all our transgression, and our lives can be lived powerfully and wonderfully no matter our past.

There is redemption.

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