Those of us who have fought the battle of habitual sin often times have had difficulty with the feelings and consequences of being caught in our sins. When we think back to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, after the Fall, we recall that they hid themselves because they saw themselves in their nakedness and were ashamed.
We endeavor to keep our sins hidden and resent being confronted with our sinful behaviors as well. When we are caught, we fear the judgement of those who caught us. We fear the consequences, and often experience the consequences as punishment. We may view God as punitive, judgmental, or vengeful. We may see ourselves as unloveable. Whether the consequence is the loss of a job, the dissolution of a relationship, or something else, we may become resentful and angry.
The Consequences of Our Sins as Opportunities for Change
The Catholic author Jeff Cavens suggests that these consequences can be viewed as evidence of a loving, merciful God. Instead of being punished, we are being caught. Now when we think of being caught, we may think this means being “found out.” But being caught can also mean being saved from falling further into sin! In the 12-step world, we hear that someone often has to “hit bottom” before he or she can truly admit that life has become unmanageable.
Being nearly four years free from the grips of my porn addiction, I can look back with gratitude on each of the people who invited me to turn away from my lustful behaviors. But I also look back with regret that the loss of a career, the near loss of my marriage, and driving my family into serious debt were not enough to cause me to turn around. It wasn’t that the consequences weren’t severe. It was that with each consequence, I was locked into only relying on myself to turn my behaviors around.
It wasn’t until I went through the Consecration to Divine Mercy four years ago that I truly experienced being caught in the hands of a loving God. A Father who wanted desperately to reveal to me His loving nature and deep desire to get me to trust in His unending presence and constant involvement in my life.
When Jesus came upon the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, and the crowd waited to see how he was going to respond to her, he invited each of the woman’s accusers to throw the first stone if they were sinless. Each of them dropped their stones and left Jesus and the woman alone. When Jesus was alone with the woman, he questioned the woman, assuring her that he was not her accuser. Instead, he challenged her out of love to go and sin no more.
God’s Embrace Through the Sacrament of Confession
As I went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation countless times prior to my consecration, I “firmly resolved to sin no more” repeatedly, only to fall again and again (sometimes even later that day!). I had no problem with Step One. I knew that my life was unmanageable. I had no problem with part of Step Two. I believed in a higher power—God. However, did I really believe that He could restore me to sanity?
I have shared in the past that as I went through my Consecration to Divine Mercy I still expected to fight the battle against my masturbation and porn addiction (and keep losing) until the day I died. It was only through the graces experienced through my consecration that I began the process of turning my life and will over to the care of God.
Being caught by a loving, merciful God has made all the difference. Many people who have shared with me their experience of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the first time, or after a long time away, have heard the priest say, after making the declaration of absolution, “welcome home.” While being caught by the consequences of our sins can sometimes allow us to change our lives (and help us not to sin further), how much more wonderful it is to be caught in the hands of a loving God every time we go to confession!
Jim Gorski is a 57-year-old father of four children who has been married to the same woman for 35 years. He completed his master’s degree in social work in 1984 and has directed church music groups for the past 41 years. He remains a grateful child of the most high God and strives to trust in God’s loving mercy and His ability to provide for Jim’s every need.