One of my good friends, not to mention a role model of mine since I was about 13, taught me about the concept of sin using this example (see above). She was explaining cleaning her apartment and said that when she pulled the gunk out of the tub drain, that made her think of her sins. She imagined God seeing her sins, and herself covered in such sin, and loving her despite the muck. I did not then, nor do I now, understand her full meaning with this analogy. But it is a powerful image. All the more so because I am now old/caring/responsible/bored enough to clean my own drains.
What trips me up about this concept isn’t the comparison to sin as the grossest thing one can pull from a tub drain, but rather the love. The first people I learned to love were my brother and sister. I know you’d think parents, but I don’t remember ever needing to learn to love them. I always loved them. Now, Allison and Alex were a different story! lol They took my toys and moved my things and generally got in my way. But quickly I loved then both. Then I learned to love my friends. I learned to love romantically. I learned to love ideas. I learned to love hatred. I learned to love nothing. But I never was very good at loving myself. That…is changing.
If you know me at all, you know I love myself more in the last few years than I have my whole life. I treat myself well. I surround myself with good things and great people. I am gentle with more things concerning myself than I was before, although Lordisa knows I have more room to grow. I struggle to love my body, but what American citizen living among today’s societal standards doesn’t struggle there? I love parts of myself whole-heartedly, and parts with fear or reverence. Through all this love, it’s still a work-in-progress. It’s not easy, and it’s not quick, and it’s not pretty. So it goes.
Still, while I can accept myself as various individual pieces to a grander puzzle, accepting the final product is difficult. Nigh impossible. While life in the wide world goes on, much as it has this past age, I toil away at the core of self-esteem.
In the meantime my countless friends and allies make these discoveries in advance. They make these statements, derived from firsthand experiences, about my goodness. They enjoy my company. They appreciate my sense of humor. They find me pleasing to sit across from at meals. My smile brings a smile to their faces. They love me. My friend from years ago loved me, as she continues to love me now. She has told me as much. She explains using memories of our times together as proof.
Clearly, I assume, no one had seen my sins. That was the ONLY possible answer. I had successfully conned everyone I’ve ever known! I did it so well, in fact, that not even I was aware of my mad manipulation skills. (I was raised by my parents, and if anything would have been genetic, it would have been mad manipulation skills.)
I started to admit the sins aloud. They are always perfectly clear to me, as I am layered with sin as the night is with stars. I started this process in 2004, after losing my ability to ignore myself. In 2009 I took things to a deeper level. All the while, I grew as more support, love, and goodness flowed into my world. Over the spring and summer of 2013 I advanced myself to a new tier. Things shifted significantly, but in places where holes appeared, grace and deeper bonds made the surfaces smooth. Now I’m writing my book. Things are going to come to light that are mewing newborns, inexperienced with the harsh lighting and cold winds of reality. I’m preparing for the worst, but I cannot pragmatically expect only bad results any longer. This is a weird, slightly gross feeling that I’m managing. 🙂
It’s going to get ugly. If sin is anything, it is ugly. However, sin is not a tangible thing. Sin is a concept, a judgement, a label. If I have learned anything through my last ten years of re-education, it is that most labels are mislabeled. Judgements serve no one. And concepts are stretchy, snapable things with a short self life.
I haven’t done this process alone since 2004. I’m not changing that now. If you’re still reading, you’re a part of it. And I have a feeling I’ll be needing several volunteers to pull this trick off…