Wednesday, 09 March 2011
So my porn-free-for-seven-days challenge ended yesterday, and although it would make me happy to say that it was an easy and resounding success, I failed. On day five of seven, the temptation came and I just gave in. And since I had already failed, I didn't even bother fighting it for the next few days.
What bothered me more than failing, though, was the prospect of having to publicly admit that I failed. What does that mean, though?
For me, it means I have issues with pride. The selfish side of me wants to be seen as someone powerful and incapable of failure because I want admiration for the feats I've accomplished on my own. To admit failure at a challenge is to admit that I am not as great as my pride can lead me to believe sometimes. The easiest thing to do, obviously, is to pretend I didn't fail in order to preserve that fake image of myself. Then I can keep carrying around my own secret shame and keep giving into temptation whenever it strikes. That does not lead to being a better person, though. After all, why would I care about giving in one more time when I've already given in so many other times?
By admitting failure, I'm emptying out all the reservations and shame I've been hiding. It is difficult and very humbling to do, but once it's all out, I get back to a point where I have an incentive not to give in. I have something to protect: a clean slate.
Not coincidentally, this is the same basic formula that Christians follow for the idea of repentance. We begin the road to salvation simply by understanding that we have failed. Every person is born with a selfish, proud nature that leads them to failure -- it is inevitable. If we don't admit that our own selfish nature leads us to destructive tendencies, then we are not being honest with ourselves and are ignoring the history of our own mistakes. This does not mean that everything we do will be evil before salvation enters the picture either -- only that before we humble ourselves and admit our weakness, we will be inclined to make the same mistakes over and over again.
When we repent -- just a fancy term for recognizing your own mistakes and wanting to be forgiven for them -- we get a new start. We get a clean slate that we can be eager to protect. It doesn't mean that we won't ever screw up again. We are still susceptible to temptation, but salvation comes with a whole host of tools to help us resist the temptations, including the determination to get back up when we fall. Salvation not only provides us with a free pass to heaven, but with everything we need to live a life that will leave a positive impact on the world around us.
And it is never too late to accept salvation. You don't need a pope or a priest. You don't need a Bible. You don't need to be baptized or say a special prayer. During the crucifixion of Jesus, a lifelong thief provided us with the clearest example of what it takes to be saved: belief. He sacrificed his pride, admitted his failures, and stated his belief in the divinity of Jesus, and Jesus verbally confirmed his salvation right then and there. Despite a life of crime that hurt others, a thief's last moments in life as a saved person provided us with some of the most important information we'll ever have, and as an added bonus, was able to enter heaven.
The other thief was full of his own pride and logic and challenged Jesus to save them all: "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" It is a classic example of those people who say, "If God was so great, then He wouldn't allow ____ in the world." However, it is also a classic example of someone who has so much pride that he believes his logic is equalent to God's. He didn't have the same capacity to see the bigger picture and the need for Jesus's sacrifice on the cross. So instead of sacrificing his pride and admitting his wrongs, he kept his pride until the very end, and it didn't do him any good.
Proverbs 16:18 -- Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
You are already a failure. You just need to realize it, and lose that do-it-yourself attitude so you don't keep repeating the same mistakes in life. God can help guide you through the minefield of life in a way that avoids further failure, but it all starts with cleaning off your slate.
Are there any areas in your life that you would rather avoid being honest about? How willing are you to admit your weaknesses to yourself, to God, and/or to others?