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20131030-160603.jpgThere is nothing harder in this life than forgiving oneself.

We all make mistakes. It’s part of the human condition. The “fall of humans” didn’t start from a major mistake but one that snowballed from a minor, stupid choice. The major problem that arose from the disobedience wasn’t the disobedience itself but from the shame they took upon themselves when making that choice. It wasn’t “God, we make a terrible choice. We’re sorry. Let’s just keep moving forward.” No. When they truly came to terms of the missteps in their life, they hid from God.

It becomes a snowball effect.

The man then blames the woman for the choices they made. In turn, the woman points her finger at the snake. There was no owning their issues and asking to patch their relationship with God. Instead, they embraced blame instead of responsibility and shame instead of grace.

Remember the movie Thelma and Louise? Thelma nearly gets raped by a stranger in a bar. Louise ends up killing the man. As Thelma wants to go to the authorities about potential rape and murder that followed, Louise reminds her that they wouldn’t believe they were protecting themselves from assault. Instead, they find themselves on the run, knowing that if they were to get caught or turn themselves in, their lives would be spent in prison.

They continue to commit crime after crime in an effort to live free from a definite jail sentence. Eventually, they are forced to turn themselves in or drive off of the Grand Canyon. Thelma and Louise choose the latter as they decide their death equals freedom.

I wonder if they experienced moral injury when they killed Louise’s assaulter. If they would have given themselves grace for the choices they needed to make, could have found a different way of living?

Are we like Adam and Eve or Thelma and Louise? Whether we make a mistake consciously, were manipulated had to commit an act to save our lives, do we hang on to the guilt of that one incident forever? Do we let one incident in our lives dictate the rest of the way our lives go? Do we hold on to shame from our past which destroys our future?

If we can embrace our mistakes soon after we make them, maybe we can embrace grace a little sooner.

I think it’s wonderful in the Jewish tradition that they have Yom Kippur, the day of atonement and a day to reflect upon reconciliation. In Catholicism, they have the sacrament of reconciliation as they process their deeds aloud. But in Protestantism, there is no particular day or sacrament where we ask for forgiveness. Some of our churches have prayers of reconciliation or forgiveness each week, but do we invest much energy in the effort to make all right with God, one another or ourselves? So maybe on Reformation Day, the remembrance of Luther’s mandate of “grace alone,” we can take the opportunity to allow hand our past mistakes over to God and embrace grace.