I read this post of Karen Edmisten’s some time ago but haven’t really had the inclination to take it on board until today. Today I’m sick with the cold and sick of being sick and I’m feeling bored and frustrated because I can’t do the does I had planned and pottering on the computer is all I’m fit for so I’m going through some old drafts and seeing if there’s anything to write about. Which there is, which is good.
When I read Karen’s post, I found myself having one of those moments when several things come together and suddenly fit so I suppose, to use her analogy, I’ve taken a step around the spiral. But, for me, her post is really about sin and that’s what I’d like to write about today.
I sin a lot. I sin in little, accidental ways. I tell God I’m sorry, which I am, I put it right if I can and we move on. But I also sin in big, habitual ways. I tell God I’m sorry, which I am, and resume the behaviour a few hours/days/weeks later. And I’ve been doing this, with variations on the theme, for how many years? To tell you the truth, I’m 36 and I think I’ve been doing it all my adult life.
With this pattern of sin in my life, you can probably see why Karen’s spiral illustration appeals to me. Because it feels like I’ve been dealing with the same sins since forever. And, a lot of the time, I don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere at all. I’ve thought that I was stuck in a circular pattern: sin, repent, sin again, repent again. And I’ve been seriously doubting the quality of my repentance. Surely if one repents then one turns away from the sinful behaviour for good? Apparently not if you’re me.
The beauty of looking at this pattern as a spiral is that it lets me see the ways I have progressed. Ten years ago I’d just leap into my vat of sin and come out when I was done. Now I struggle and pray and distract myself before maybe sinning or maybe making a better choice. Although I do admit that the latter only happens on a Red Letter Day. But I am trying and that’s progress.