Bear With Me

I have not spent a lot of time discussing this side of my life, so I’m clumsy and not as articulate as I’d like to be.

I carry my guilt. It is not how we are supposed to live, but I am fallible, so very human. Sometimes I see myself as carrying a bag; in it are my hopes, dreams, and memories. As I wander down the road of life I pick up the stones that cause me to stumble. Some nights I sift through that bag and while each stone is insignificant the burden of the collection is staggering.
I was raised Catholic in a semi-practicing household. Confession was a part of my life, a time where I could sift through that bag and leave my burden at God’s feet. When I was sixteen I went through the process of Confirmation. As the time drew near for me to tell the bishop and the church that I was an adult, I realized I was not ready. I told my father I did not want to receive the sacrement because I lacked faith. That was the biggest fight I’ve ever had with him. It ended with my father saying I would never leave the house if I did not go through with the ceremony.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Catholic faith there are two types of sins mortal and venial. Mortal sins are exactly what they sound like, death for the soul; they are conscious sins of a grievous nature. Venial sins are our small, unconscious sins of every day life. In my eyes, when I stood in front of the congregation and spoke to the bishop, it was not a small sin; it was a conscious decision to lie. I lied publicly and directly to God. I didn’t pick up a small stone that day, it was a tremendous boulder. The weight of the transgression caused me to stop attending Mass and I certainly could not face a priest for Confession, after all I had just lied to the bishop. As is the nature of things, the boulder slowly sank into the bag, slipping to the bottom, buried under my smaller failings. I slowly became accustomed to the burden. In my heart the event was a place I never looked. Years passed and life with it. I never knew it, but my vision of God was warped. God is described as our Heavenly father and my earthly one twisted the metaphor. He does not measure us by our failures.
The past few years have brought about great changes in my life. I have been experiencing spiritual growth, but with it comes pain as old wounds are opened to allow healing. I surprised myself, recently, by talking about my Confirmation and breaking down in tears as I tried to explain how hard it had been to stand in front of God and everyone and lie. I discussed the event with several people, one of whom suggested I speak to a priest. There is a chance that my Confirmation may be invalid, as it was performed under duress. Part of me whispers, you could have stood up to your father, but that part is slowly being smothered as I learn to quit expecting perfection from myself. I was a child and had to obey. The knowledge that my slate may yet be wiped clean, even in the eyes of the Catholic Church helps me to lift the burden from my shoulders. I am setting this millstone down. With strength renewed I am standing a little straighter and walking a little taller.


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