In response to a comment to the blog entry “The Loving Act of Saying No,” I say the following:
We don’t realize how much God loves us–not as abstract human beings, but as distinct persons. We are all sick and need to be healed and cleaned up (so to speak), but we must never lose sight of the fact that it is us whom God saves. When we get to heaven, God is not going to say to us, “Why weren’t you more like St. [fill in the blank].” God will ask, “Why did you hide yourself like Adam in Paradise?”
I spent most of yesterday at the Holy Transfiguration Hermitage and I was able to have a long talk with Fr. Gregory. One of the topics of our conversation was how to help people overcome sin. I told Fr. Gregory how I have tried to help people overcome specific sins, and his response was classic. “No wonder they keep falling into the same sin.” Guilt, summarizing Fr. Gregory, is the mechanism by which we confirm our supposed inability to access our higher selves. Eventually, like a self fulfilling prophesy, guilt drives us back to the same sin. It is only as we accept “our fullness in Christ,” our higher self, our new being in Christ, that the old man and his ways are left behind.
I shared with Fr. Gregory the words I had written about hiding ourselves like Adam in Paradise (which are the words from a Theophany hymn). “That’s it,” he said. When we are ourselves in Christ, then we leave behind the darkness. All is light in Christ, so darkness ceases to exist. Darkness only increases when we focus on it (this is the guilt-leading-to-sin-leading-to-guilt syndrome). However, if we turn to the light (even in the midst of our messy, very dark lives) the darkness fades away.
Repentance is a matter of saying, that’s not me, that’s not who I am—even while all I can see is my failure and darkness. This is because who I am, who I am becoming, is hidden in Christ. When I turn my attention to my failure and darkness, all seems to become failure and darkness because guilt makes me want to hide from God, driving me back to sin. In turning to Christ (rather than hiding behind the fig leaves of the knowledge of good and evil–the guilt and sin dynamic), the Light cleanses me from all darkness. We only turn to sin when we turn from the Light, and it is only in turning to the Light that we start to experience real victory over sin.
Sin exists only in the darkness of hiding. As we accept ourselves in Christ, keeping our face turned to the Light (not hiding like Adam in Paradise), then sin is overcome like snow is melted in the full heat of the sun.