I so imperfect

resentful

You can start over even if you’re not sure God loves you. You can start oven even if you’re not sure He should.

And you don’t have to run. You can shamble over resentfully. You can sidle in doubtfully. You can skulk in with fear, doubt, despair, or even rage. As long as you go because you’re acknowledging that things are not good as they are, then that is good enough. It may not feel like it is enough, but that is what Christ has promised.

Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.

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4 thoughts on “I so imperfect”

  1. Can you help me out here? I’m theology-minded and trying to understand a little more clearly what you wrote. You wrote, “I wasn’t ready to stop committing those sins.” But contrition requires a firm resolution not to sin again. It sounds like you’re saying that you didn’t want to stop sinning, in which case there was not yet contrition because there was not yet a firm resolution to avoid sin…right? It seems to me that there’s a crucial difference between not wanting to stop sinning (no contrition) and firmly resolving to stop sinning even though you may feel hopeless about your ability to actually do so. Can you clarify what you mean there? I would also appreciate clarity on a point later in the article…you suggested that it’s not necessary to contrition to understand what’s so terrible about your sins. The Catechism says detesting your sins is necessary for contrition. It seems to me that in order to detest your sins, you need to first understand what’s so terrible about them, such that understanding what’s so terrible about your sins really is an integral part of being contrite. Your article is so intriguing, though, and it made me appreciate that there could be a difference between being sorry to God and having what the Catechism calls “sorrow of the soul”! Wow. Love your work.

    1. Well, Simcha is apparently too busy doing things like cooking for her family, instead of answering this, so I am going to take a stab at it after which she will be sorry she spent time cooking for them instead of writing for us.

      I think the point of the story is that God is willing to accept even very baby steps toward Himself. If we think of ourselves, (our fully functional grown-up independent free-willed selves) more often as little children we can see that of course God wants us to be fully functional adults in our spiritual lives, eventually, but if we aren’t there yet we can turn to HIm and just say “I so sorry”, even if all we are sorry for at that moment is that the sin has made us unhappy. If we stop at that step for the rest of our lives it is as bad as if we stopped at the previous step of not even turning toward God. But if we are going to get closer to God we must begin with what might seem an infinitesimally small step. Better than no step at all.

      I train horses. One thing I train them to do is to put their head down in response to pressure on top of their head. Many people have told me that this is impossible. In fact, it is so impossible that it is dangerous to try. The reason I can do it, and they can’t, is because when I apply pressure I look for the tiniest little bit of give in the downward direction, even if it is accidental, and then release pressure. After I have done this just a few times, the horse begins to get the idea and will deliberately put his head down, just a tiny fraction of an inch. We build on that, until I can get the horse to put his nose touching the ground, and I can stand on the lead rope or reins. If I required the horse to function at the finished level from the get go, there would be no finished level. Really.

      God loves us, and understands us, as much as I love and understand my horses, as much as Simcha loves and understands her baby. Maybe more.

  2. Simcha,
    This is so beautiful and true.

    Some of us have also been willing to be “perfect” at the expense of being human.
    The perception of being “perfect” isn’t always right and good and true.

    As I get older I realize that as human beings, we have an instinct for what is “right, true, and good”. It is engraved upon our hearts. The pinnacle of this reality was God made man. He flouted all of the idiosyncratic expectations about how he *should* be, and was simply good.

    Just because it was simple doesn’t mean that the perfection of that simplicity wasn’t grander than the universe.

  3. As far as imperfect contrition goes…
    … at least from my perspective one of the things I’ve struggled with is the statement that I will go forth and sin no more. I’ll certainly try; but some sins are pervasive and deeply rooted. My utmost try might seem like a hand wave to someone else. I’ve struggled with that, knowing that I’ll never truly defeat sin, and that frankly, I *like* my sins. I delude myself daily as to the damage my sins do and the advantages they give me and hence that’s why I keep doing them. It kept me from confession for years. It made me feel worthless.

    it doesn’t matter though. I’ve been told that its a process. Don’t go in thinking you will beat sin and its attachments. You’re setting yourself up for failure. Go in knowing that you want to beat it, and that confession is one of the best tools you are using to root it out of your life. You can confess knowing that you’ll sin again, knowing that your attachments to your sins are very strong, but knowing that you are working to get better. That’s contrition.

    To make double sure of all this I explain my state of mind to the Priest while in the confessional. I’ve not yet had one question my contrition and all of them keep telling me to keep going.

    Its like strength training or training for a fight. You’ll keep going and training, and you’ll have good days and bad days. But the only time you screw up is if you stop. And over time you’ll slowly get better.

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