"For a person that's been saved, he sure seems lost."That quote came from my brother in just casual conversation, and it made such an impression on me that I absolutely had to write about it. I wish that I could deliver so concise and so powerful a message as he did in just ten words.
Well done, sir!
First, I'll do what I do best and write about my own experiences living life, raising kids, and growing older. I'll begin by saying that I unconditionally love my wife. I'll even go so far as saying that I worship the ground that woman strolls upon. She's the most beautiful and intelligent person I know, and to this day I still cannot even fathom how I convinced her to marry me. (I think it was the alcohol...) I absolutely adore my kids. They're both brilliant, hilarious, kind, and compassionate. I wake up in the morning eager to see their groggy faces and tattered hair. And of course, as my work day wears on I find myself anxious to see them when I get home.
My family has always been my inspiration.
But the thing is, I live my life knowing that each breath I take could very well be my last. And in knowing that, I will make every effort to make even my very last moment worth living. I know that I will never, ever have enough time with these wonderful people, even if I live to a ripe old age. It will never be enough. Ever. I know I'm fortunate to be surrounded by such interesting and entertaining human beings, which is why I will always cherish every single moment with them.
Compare that with what you hear from people that wrap themselves in a blanket of religion. You know the type. The people whose actions and prejudices give us the expression, "holier than thou." These individuals don't think they're living life unless they're singing songs of their own self-loathing. They use words like, "worthless" and, "emptiness" and, "undeserving." They go on and on about their past; how wretched they once were and how they pray ever so hard now for forgiveness.
Now, keeping all of that in mind, let's go back to what my brother said. Does that last paragraph sound like a healthy outlook on life for someone who has supposedly been dipped in the waters of salvation? Does that sound like someone that's been "delivered" from all the sin and debauchery that's supposedly rampant in our society?
Yet that type of thinking is commonplace in religious circles. They are never good enough. They are never worthy enough. They are never faithful enough. And according to their pastors, their religious leaders, and the people they surround themselves with, they are simply not allowed to be happy with themselves and who they've become even after being saved by blood of Jesus Christ.
I know this sounds like I'm building up my own straw man, but I honestly wish I was. I read this type of stuff anywhere from Facebook posts to Christmas cards. You really don't have to search very far to find it. It's just about everywhere, as sad as that is.
And yet I pity these individuals. I pity them to the point where I wish I could convince them to go speak with a therapist. I sincerely worry about many of them, since much of what they say and write reminds me of someone who's suicidal.
But my hope is that anyone that reads this will take a moment and look back on their lives not as a constant downward slide of mistakes and depravity, but instead as a tapestry of learning and experience. Sure, we all fail, we all stumble here and there, and we all wish we had said or done something nicer. But then again, we also succeed, we all achieve here and there, and we all feel good when we help another person in need. All of these experiences - including those that give us pride and those that make us feel terrible - are what make us who we are.
So the person you see in the mirror is not one or the other - that person is both the achiever and the failure. Focusing on your mistakes over your successes doesn't make you a better person, it just makes you vulnerable to someone who's ready to sell you a cure for something you never even had in the first place.