In my years of healing from sexual abuse, one of the many things I have learned is – who we are comes from what we believe about ourselves, whether those thoughts are true or not.
So I am on a quest for truth!
This thing with being labeled a sinner has really affected me. Being Catholic, in case you haven’t figured that out yet, I looked up information about the Hail Mary prayer in the Catechism of the Catholic Church hoping for some guidance. Sure enough the first section is from the first chapter of Luke. But when I got to the part that talks about “Pray for us sinners…” the explanation in the Catechism was interesting. According to section 2677, “By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledge ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the ‘Mother of Mercy’….May she be there as she was at her son’s death on the cross. May she welcome us as our mother at the hour of our passing and lead us to her son, Jesus, in paradise.”
I’d like her assistance leading me to her son, but whoa, whoa, whoa…I need to repeatedly acknowledge myself as a poor sinner….Hmm. I am a poor sinner. That is to be my identity? Let’s play out the mind games on this shall we?
My identity… A sinner. Someone who continually screws up. Someone who is only saved by God’s grace. A sinner. A poor sinner. I don’t deserve to stand up straight. I don’t deserve anything. I am keenly aware that only God in his grace can save me, a poor sinner. Well, then, I must work to be better, ( if I haven’t already just embraced the sinner identity and decided to stop fighting the temptation and just keep sinning) So I must work hard to try not to sin, but that is impossible, as I AM a poor sinner so I must make up for it then. I will volunteer, I will help at church… No one else is volunteering so I will help more… My attitude doesn’t matter, I am a sinner… No one wants to help me, so I’ll just pick up the slack, bearing more burdens for everyone…. I am a sinner after all.
I’ve seen these people, been one of them at times, but I cannot reconcile this in my mind anymore. Last year our women’s group did we did a study by Fr. Robert Baron and one of the precepts that he built his teaching on was that God has a plan of sheer goodness for me. WHAT?!? ME? A POOR SINNER? That was a new fascinating concept for me. Almost 50 years old, been through catholic school, RE classes and multiple bible studies and classes as an adult and this was the first time I was hearing the message that God had a plan of sheer goodness for me?
Wait, maybe it was told, but I never heard it because of the SINNER GUILT MANTRA that was molded into the neuro pathways of my brain. Good ole catholic guilt.
So I researched that in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Did you know the message Fr. Baron spoke about was article #1? ARTICLE NUMBER 1!
I would like to print it here verbatim in case some of you might like to be enlightened as I was.
“1. God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness, freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs to his blessed life.”
WOW! WOW! WOW! Anybody else speechless like I was? Heirs to his Blessed life? Are you kidding me? A Blessed life of pain and suffering? But wait, maybe, because of the the redemptive work of his Son, we can have a life without all the pain and suffering? But sinners deserve a life of pain and suffering don’t we? If it doesn’t come upon me, then maybe, just maybe I am subconsciously making more suffering than needs to be, because if my identity is that of a POOR SINNER, it must be proven true.
But maybe, just maybe if my identity is that of a CHILD OF GOD who sins, why then I can stand tall. I can look up to Him. I can own my birthright of an heir to the kingdom. I can attract positive things, good things, things other than pain and suffering. And that would reinforce my identity as a Child of God. Which would help reinforce those neuro pathways in my brain, helping me to smile and rest in his LOVING arms. Yup, that is my choice.
I AM A CHILD OF GOD.
Who are you?