Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What was your excuse?

I guess this is a "Just Curious" of sorts, but only relevant to those who believe in sin, have lived a life of sin, and who now strive to live in a state of grace.

If that's you, I am curious about your excuses at the time.

When you were in your sin, what mental exercises, justifications, rationalizations or philosophies did you use to continue on in your sin?

Here's mine:

In my life, I never tried to justify or deny sin. From a young age, I knew right from wrong, virtue from vice. I got that part pretty easily. But once sin was habitual, my will was not prepared to go along with what my head and heart always knew. It was too hard to change, and I was living a happy life, after all.

It might seem a strange place to be. I never claimed my sin was not sin. I didn't try to make my sin look like it was virtuous, or even regrettably necessary. If someone had told me that what I was doing was sinful, I would have been the first to agree. I never used the "my sin isn't sin" excuse.

Nope, my particular line was: "But I'm a good person! Yes, I am definitely sinning. But God understands. He knows me."

Maybe that's the worst disposition of all: To know without doubt that one is sinning, yet to keep on.

In my short, perfunctory prayer every night, I asked forgiveness for all my sins (literally, this: "God, forgive me for all my sins. Amen."), but never did I think to approach a confessional. I'm sure I knew that a sacramental confession would require me to give up my sins, and since that was not in my plan, I simply confessed "straight to God". Because He understood me, unlike some pesky priest who might call me out and expect me to amend my ways. God and I were buddies, after all, our own secret little clique (though I barely talked to Him), and my sins weren't nearly as bad as all those other people's.

I was sinning in full knowledge and believing I was "special" enough to be given a a big, fat pass.

Yep, it was the sin of presumption, and it's as awful as it sounds.

Okay, your turn*: What was your excuse? Did you deny your sins were sins? Or did you justify them (make them seem "just")? Or rationalize them? Did you declare that they served a greater good (i.e., the ends justify the means) so that you were allowed, or even morally obligated, to commit them? Did you normalize them by choosing a crowd which sinned in the same way? Did you pretend that God didn't exist? Or that He didn't care? Or maybe you really, truly never knew that your sin was sin?

I'm interested.

*Feel free to post anonymously if you feel more comfortable.


  1. As a young person, mired in some pretty awful sins, I have to say that at the time, I just refused to think about it. But if I did ever stumble into thinking about it, I often picked the "Well, I'm not hurting anyone else..." It is obvious to me looking back that I didn't realize the ripple effect of sinful actions (and I now realize how much I hurt my younger siblings behaving the way I did as a teenager) and I didn't realize that in the sins which took another person to participate, I obviously wasn't thinking about how much I was hurting them either.

    So...most of my rationalization was that I was only affecting myself...not others. As you know, one of the biggest lies Satan destroys us with.

  2. I fell into the exact same trap as you - "God KNOWS I am a good person!" In high school, it was "As long as I don't go "all the way," I am SO much more noble than those sinners having sex!" In college, it was "*I* can skip class because I'm an A student and I need a break today, but that other guy who shows up hungover or just doesn't come at all? What a disgrace."

    ...And so on! When does it stop? I finally realized one day that I was always making exceptions for myself, and indirectly judging others and putting myself above them in the hierarchy of sin as I viewed it in the world. Lord, have mercy!

  3. I had no moral code, and I had deluded ideas about how to be loved. I wanted to feel loved, and did things that were wrong to get that feeling...but that feeling was never satisfied.

  4. I used to say, "Well, I'm not doing anything REALLY bad" i.e., stealing, murderin,g etc. Or I used the "I'm not hurting anybody else" excuse. Eventually I realized they were just that--excuses. I still find myself trying to make excuses for why I do things--"But that person talked about ME behind MY back...I was only venting!!" that sort of thing--but now I know they're excuses and try (however unsuccessfully) to curtail them.

  5. Mine is a little different. I knew I was doing something bad, I also knew I was in danger of going to Hell if I were to suddenly die. I knew this so well that I was afraid to cross the street in case a car hit me. I became depressed and paranoid and I would go to confession, but I eventually stopped going, because, even though I was depressed and there was a wall between me and God, I was not sincere in saying I would stop. I wanted to stop (this is involving me and my boyfriend who is now my husband)but I was too afraid he would break up with me.
    My boyfriend began to see how depressed I was and offered to make things "pure" between us. You have no idea how happy that made me! Though that should have been my own decision, God helped me out by changing my boyfriend's heart, even though he wasn't Catholic at the time. I then went to confession, and that was when my "second conversion" began.

    Thanks for the question--it feels good confessing those things all over again!

  6. I was like you, in that I knew and recognized my sin. I even tried to stop it several times, talking to the person I was sinning with, which only made things worse because being a Psych Major (they're the worst!!) he of course tried to rationalize away my feelings of guilt as being a product of a religion that "made up" this rule years ago by way of protecting people from unwed pregnancy and disease. Um, no, how about I have a conscience??
    But with sexual sin, I think I got to a point where I actually believed it was "too late" to go back (to virginity), so it didn't matter anymore. I knew it was still sinful, but the alternative just wasn't appealing to me because I thought I would still be branded no matter what I did (or didn't do).
    I understood sin. I just didn't understand completely the undying love and forgiveness of my God.


  7. I sort of did things along the same lines as you. I figured God knew I was a "good person." I used to say, "God doesn't expect us to be perfect." I mean I wasn't committing the really bad sins right? ;) I didn't kill anyone. I would pray at night asking God for a million things and then at the end say "Please forgo e me for my sins." and that wad it. Now I wasn't Catholic so confession in a confessional was foreign to me but you would have though I could have at least been more specific.

  8. I feel that I had a denial sort of approach. I felt that what I was doing wasn't "that bad." I would still continue going to church and ask for forgiveness (not through confession) just through talking with God. For many years, I thought that was good enough. I didn't hold myself accountable hence the reason I kept doing the same things over and over again. When I finally took the time to realize the impact of my sins on myself AND others I started to change. To this day I make myself think about actions more deeply instead of just "doing them."

  9. I was definitely a justify-er. "As long as I don't have sex, it's okay!" and "It doesn't matter, because we're going to get married someday." Sigh. Sometimes I wish I could smack my 15-year-old self upside the head!

  10. Even thinking back to my excuses causes me to feel so embarassed all over again. Here's my grand (stupid) excuse: I was young. Yep, I would actually justify it all by saying to myself how young I was, and therefore, I had years in front of me to get right with God. I didn't even bother with a prayer each night because I figured I could do whatever and then when I was ready ask for forgiveness. This came out of my Protestant upbringing. I always heard these stories of people and their wild lives before they were saved... and I was just kind of mad I didn't get a wild life. Amazing rational thinking isn't it?!

    Thankfully, through God's grace, I found the Catholic Church, grace, and forgiveness. And, and I so grateful I didn't die during my times of denial. I am so unworthy.

  11. I was like you, Leila. I knew what I was doing was wrong and wouldn't justify it to anyone. I'm sure I would lie about it, though! Not because I wanted to project a perfect image, but because I just did not want to discuss my behavior.

    I remained a practicing Catholic all along and, I'm sorry to say, continued to receive Communion. I'm sure our second grade teacher covered this in school, but I conveniently forgot that it was an even worse mortal sin to receive Jesus when my soul was dead in sin. As I have seen it put recently, Jesus died willingly for us to save us from our sins. When we receive Him while our soul is dead in sin, He comes to us unwillingly, and the Sacrament takes us further from Him rather than closer. It is so sad to think of it that way! If anyone had said to me, "Look, you can either continue living as you are, or you can continue to receive Communion. You may not do both. You must choose," the choice would have been easy! This guy, or Jesus... what a no-brainer! I wish Catholics could realize that this is the choice they are making!

  12. The trap I fell into was the justification of sin by degree and what is weird is that I kept on sinning because other people who proclaimed to "be God's special buddies" I could see that they were making all sorts of special one of a kind excuses for themselves. If God could forgive them their trespasses and I could forgive them their trespasses then I didn't have to go to confession for my sins. (2 wrongs make a right, more trespasses not less) Also in examining sin by degree I noticed that people tended to be all hot and bothered about the sins other people were committing, poor people stealing seemed especially offensive to the wealthy, where as greed could be overlooked, Men giving in to their lust was especially frowned upon by the young women, but vanity and continued alienation of the needy was excusable. and so on. Sin by degree is eroding the foundations of faith, people look at how you act to when you get upset about what others are doing.

  13. I was in the state of mortal sin for years and I KNEW it. I had a deep understanding and love for the Church's teachings, especially TOB, yet my will just wouldn't line up with my head. I went to confession OFTEN and confessed the same mortal sins over and over again. I always had the desire to amend my ways every time I went to confession. My biggest problem was that I never removed myself from the temptation. I told myself I was stronger and I would be able to handle it. It wasn't until my dear husband came along and pulled me out of the mud and showed me what real love is that I was able to break free from the addiction. And that's exactly what it was-addiction.

    I've continued to struggle with the thoughts of past sins and confessed sins from my past that I "can't remember if I've ever confessed" although I know in my head that's not necessary. Even all these years later, it still haunts me. I hate the example I set for my sisters. I hate the fact that I caused others to sin with me. I hate that I was a walking contradiction when I had so much potential to be a walking example.

    Great question!

  14. When I was in high school, I did not have sex. But I did in college. Even though I was raised Catholic, had attended youth groups, and KNEW in my heart that having sex outside marriage was wrong, I did it anyway in college. After that first time, I figured that God didn't really care what I did. You know, why would the author of all life and the Creator of sex care how we do it? hahaha.
    Then when I got back into my faith about two years later, I was MAD that God cares. I was sort of one foot in the Church, one foot in the hook-up culture, and it made me mad that "these Catholics" (as opposed to my other "Catholic" friends who were also hooking up every weekend) were telling me what I can or can't do with my body! Imagine, someone other than me thinking they know more than I do! The horror! :)

    But what really kept me doing it even though I knew it was wrong was a desperate desire for love that I refused (so stupidly) to bring to God. But I was more than happy to bring it to guys who were (and probably still are) unworthy to lick my shoe. I was living the definition of insanity; doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    Praise God for his goodness and grace!

  15. As with you ... sin of presumption. I am ashamed to confess that I "met" someone online and I nearly left my husband of 28 years to go meet the other man in person.

    Yes, I know how supremely idiotic that sounds now ... and I knew at the time that I was rationalizing. The way you described it, Laila, is spot-on: I know this is a sin, but I am His child and God loves me anyway and will forgive me. And haven't others done worse and been forgiven? And don't I have a "right" to be happy?!!


    Ashamed, ashamed, ashamed. Confession was such a gift to me in a way I had never experienced it before. Thank you, Catholic church, for offering the sacrament of penance.

    And thank you, dear Father, for protecting me from making the biggest mistake of my life (and I've made some big 'uns). Thank you for my wonderful husband of 30 years, now, and for bringing me through that awful dark valley.

    And thank you Laila for a thoughtful blog - I have trouble posting here (though I have a few times) but I read often and appreciate your bubble of friends who contribute!


  16. Can an Atheist play? :)

    True, I don't believe in sin the same way as you. And, to be honest, the sex thing was never an issue for me. But I do have my "inner voice" nagging me about something else: HELP & CHARITY.

    I want to do more in my community in regards to branching out and helping those in need. But I am kind of nervous and keep putting it off. I say "Oh, I have no time with all the kids and cleaning up and..." you get the idea. But the truth is I do have the time if I make room for it.

    Also, and this is a big one... I have to stop talking about other people (friends included) behind their backs. I justify it by saying "I have to vent because (this person) does such crazy things." But the fact is, I have spilled other people's secrets and I feel HORRIBLE about that.

    It is really hard to change a habitual behavior. I guess the first thing is to admit it to yourself.

    Thanks for letting me confess!

  17. I justified sin by saying "Well, every Catholic I know, even the ones who go to church regularly and are involved in volunteering in the parish, are some pretty terrible sinners." Which in a way was true - the young people I knew that volunteered as youth group leaders were notorious partiers and some lived with their girlfriends/boyfriends, most of the adults were divorced or had/currently were cheating on their spouses.

    Obviously, I was wrong to use the "but everyone else is doing it" excuse, but I was very young and really didn't have many positive examples. Looking back on it now, it makes me realize that my sin affects others (sin is contagious) and that I need to constantly strive to portray myself in a way consistent with the Church's teaching. Sometimes living as sin-free of life as possible isn't enough, we need to avoid all possibilities of scandal (whether true or not). I know I wasn't the only impressionable young person!

  18. In my teens and early 20's I genuinely did not know that a lot of my behaviors were sinful. I knew they had me in a lot of turmoil but I couldn't grasp that they were objectively wrong. I look back and get angry at those who led me down that path or those who just didn't say anything. When I started to learn more I got mad at the messenger. Again, I knew my behavior wasn't leading me to happiness and yet I was offended that anyone could say any choice was wrong or harmful. Ultimately, I slowly grew and saw the truth of many of my behaviors and realized that I didn't really want to live that way anyway.

    Now, well, sadly now when I sin, ignorance isn't really an excuse. I often just feel weak... like you said... in some areas my head is ahead of my heart or my will. I also realize I am prone to scruples which creates a difficult balance of trying to learn when to let go and acknowledge that something is just a flaw that needs improvement but is not necessarily sinful (at least not mortally) and when I am really sinning. In short, as a Christian life coach once told, I have a complicated personality. :) Which can drive me a little crazy at times. :)

  19. I'd have to say that I sort of rationalize my regular sins (like God Alone Suffices) as they are ones that at some point I won't do anymore and when I look around me...I'm doing a lot better than other people (I know, horrible). I go to confession on a regular basis and make usually short-lived promises to myself not to do them again.

  20. WOW! This is fascinating. Thank you all….I am grateful for your humility to answer this.

    Sharon, good point: I was lying too, at least to some people. Had a nice facade to those who needed to be shielded. And, I kept marching up to Communion, too, whenever I did drag my sorry butt to mass (usually when I was in my hometown). Adding sin to sin. That's how it works.

    And atheist: I am glad you played along! Confession is soooo good for the soul.

    And, I should put this out there on a post like this! My previous post, for the scrupulous:

  21. "When you were in your sin, what mental exercises, justifications, rationalizations or philosophies did you use to continue on in your sin?"

    There was a major disconnect between understanding sin (which I did) and understanding how to walk with Christ or even how to begin seeking Him.

    Once I got enough light on that, there was a disconnect between understanding God’s mercy and doubting it.

  22. Yeah, I did the same "God knows I'm a good person" rationalization. But then, I was being raised in the ELCA, where there wasn't really strong moral teaching going on.

  23. Well lets see...I was in college and sinning with reckless abandon. Basically my justification went like this: "Oh, I'm sinning, I know but I have my issues with God and it would help if He hadn't made me this person with the ability to do these things." or "I have issues with God. He gets me and He knows I have a bunch of issues to work through."

    It was pretty easy for awhile until over time the little bubble of guilt (that I was sinning) and fear (that I wouldn't make it to Heaven) kept growing bigger and bigger in my heart until I got to the point that everytime I did something I would feel like crap during and afterwards. That tends to bring down the party life pretty quickly. I finally hit a breaking point one night, after a massive emotional breakdown, I found myself parked in my truck outside the local Catholic Church, St. Peter's, crying and praying for God to help me. To heal me. Next thing I know, I'm in RCIA and a Catholic. The rest is history.


  24. I just have to say that as a kid, many of my friends and I, who grew up in a very solid Catholic world, had the idea that "I can always go to Confession"... as if our actions' consequences wouldn't count, because the sin would be forgiven by Saturday afternoon. Ugh. It didn't take a whole lot more years of maturity to understand that's just not how it works :)

  25. I'm curious to know if anyone else was in a "daze" during really sinful periods of life?
    I went through a time where I was making one bad decision after another and at that time it was as if I was a zombie. I felt like I was outside of myself. I kept going to church but even then it felt like I wasn't "there."

  26. I lived by the Ten Commandments my whole life and wasn't aware of what the 'big picture' was beyond that basic list, so I wasn't all that sure of what God expected of me in my daily life beyond that basic list. If I suspected I might be doing something wrong, I was like you. "God knows me. He'll understand." But deep down I always still knew that was not enough, and that was another thing that pushed me along toward finding the Church.

  27. During the most godless years of my life, I was denying God's existence and refusing Him in my life. In hindsight, I think I felt like God failed me because I was hurting so much -- I kind of thought He hadn't lived up to His part of the bargain. So when I was sinning during that period, it was outright rebellion. I wasn't justifying it, I knew it was sin, but I did it to somehow hurt God.

    I always compare that time in my life to a teen who runs away from home & tells everyone her parents are dead, when in reality they are waiting for her to come home & love her very much. :(

    It tears me apart, knowing I was personally attacking the One who loves me most. But I also know that I have received forgiveness for much, which has allowed me to love God in ways that was impossible when I had been a "good Christian girl" (See Luke 7:36-50, a story which moved me to deep repentance and even gratefulness for my period of despair, and which infused me with hope).

    I pray everyday that God would take the shame and help me realize the ways my story demonstrates the amazing mercy and loving-kindness of Him.

  28. Finally, I know enough about a topic to weigh in on a Bubble discussion! Unfortunately it is about sin and immorality... haha.

    In high school and college I was living a very sinful life and I don't recall feeling any guilt about that. God was not relevant to me. I was much more concerned with popularity, fitting in, and receiving positive reinforcement (for all the wrong reasons) from others.

    But about ten years ago, I remember where I was the moment I wondered if what I was doing was, perhaps, immoral. I had fallen really far and was not only behaving immorally, but was also feeling the physical/mental affects of it. I remember telling myself that night that no, it wasn't immoral.. that we lived in a world where conservative holy rollers tried to get everyone to believe God wanted us to all live like them (i.e. live a miserably boring existence and then die), but they were either wrong or lying. Maybe their whole world view was upside down and God wasn't actually the stick-in-the-mud they wanted me to believe. Maybe He wanted me to have fun, feel good (haha.. I was feeling pretty rotten at this point) and live my life. Or maybe He wasn't there at all.

    I remember clearly that the lie I was telling myself that night was the same lie that grew out of the sexual revolution - have sex, do drugs, and don't let yourself be repressed by those conservatives who want to keep you down, especially women. I *know* a part of me thought it was totally ridiculous, that I knew I was just using it as an excuse, even as I was buying into it. But I didn't care because I wanted to - needed to - believe it. And, I should add, I defined myself as pro-life Republican even then, and Catholic (I, oddly, only went to Holy Day Masses). I was worlds apart from the promoters of "free love" whose beliefs I was buying into. It made no sense, but their lie was there for the taking and I gladly took it. Even though I continued to live that lifestyle for a few more years, I wonder now if that moment - when I questioned my actions in the first place - was the beginning of what would be my very slow conversion process.

  29. "I'm curious to know if anyone else was in a "daze" during really sinful periods of life?
    I went through a time where I was making one bad decision after another and at that time it was as if I was a zombie. I felt like I was outside of myself. I kept going to church but even then it felt like I wasn't "there."

    Yes, this describes perfectly how I felt, especially once I was completely immersed and given over to my sin. I compare it to having gauze wrapped around your eyes - every time you sin, it's another loop and soon the gauze is so thick you can't see through!

  30. "I was definitely a justify-er. "As long as I don't have sex, it's okay!" and "It doesn't matter, because we're going to get married someday." Sigh."

    This was me exactly! And then, even when I knew it was wrong and needed to get out, I felt trapped. And I would justify my way out of that too. "I'll break up with him at the end of the school year." And after that it would be "well, I'll break up with him after the upcoming (insert big event)." Luckily he came to his senses and initiated the break-up first!

    I also want to say how important it is for parents to be aware and involved in what their kids are doing. There were many evening when I would come home from a date, clearly unhappy, and want my mom to set me straight. She was wrapped up though with problems with another sibling and since I was always the "good" kid, I slipped by. (I'm not blaming her at all, just wanted to remind everyone that the good kids can make big mistakes too.)


  31. "I'm curious to know if anyone else was in a "daze" during really sinful periods of life?
    I went through a time where I was making one bad decision after another and at that time it was as if I was a zombie. I felt like I was outside of myself. I kept going to church but even then it felt like I wasn't "there." "

    Mary, I'll answer your question! :-)
    Yes, I was in a daze too during my real low time of constant sin. I think though, that because sin is dark and brings us more and more into the darkness, that it's easy to lose clarity. I always knew right from wrong, but the farther away from God I became, the more numb I became to my conscious. And so, yes, it was very easy to continue to make bad decisions.

    Good question!

  32. I'm curious to know if anyone else was in a "daze" during really sinful periods of life?
    I went through a time where I was making one bad decision after another and at that time it was as if I was a zombie. I felt like I was outside of myself. I kept going to church but even then it felt like I wasn't "there."

    Happened more when I was emerging from sin, rather than deep in it.

  33. For me (w/venial sins) I try to tell myself that such and such is not really a sin, or that I'm going outside the margins JUST A LITTLE BIT, or JUST THIS ONE TIME, and then I'll stop, so it's not a sin really. Bad excuses! I need the Psalm 140:4 prayer "Incline not my heart to evil words, to make excuses in sins."

    I just have to offer this too, having a bit of a special devotion to the Holy Eucharist: Please know, and tell your children, that a sacriligious use of the Holy Eucharist--such as a sacriligious Communion (a Communion knowingly made when NOT in the state of grace) is about the most offensive sin there is--worse than sexual sins! The Catechism of the Council of Trent says (De Euch., v.i)"...for no crime is there heavier punishment to be feared from God than for the unholy or irreligious use by the faithful of [the Blessed Sacrament]"

    St. Cyril wrote that "They who make a sacriligious Communion receive Satan and Jesus Christ into their hearts - Satan, that they may let him rule, and Jesus Christ, that they may offer Him in sacrifice as a Victim to Satan."

    P.S. Those two quotes come from p. 44 of the book "Jesus, Our Eucharistic Love" by Fr. Stefano Manelli.


  34. "I'm curious to know if anyone else was in a "daze" during really sinful periods of life?
    I went through a time where I was making one bad decision after another and at that time it was as if I was a zombie. I felt like I was outside of myself. I kept going to church but even then it felt like I wasn't "there."

    Yes, very much so and I've thought about that a lot since so I'm glad you asked it and others experienced it.

    I had protected my marriage so carefully for so many years. Here I was a mature woman in her late-40s contemplating adultery and divorce, and not because of anything my husband had done (or had not done).

    It's almost surreal, now, looking back at myself during that time. I was struggling with depression; I'm sure the classic "mid-life" and "empty nest" mentalities were on me as well.

    Boy oh my ...


  35. I want to thank everyone for their posts here. I see so much of myself in them in ways I wouldn't have been able to put into words.

    Anonymous Atheist, thanks for your message! So many people use the "Well, I've never killed anyone so I'm a good person" line of thinking. You have what my priest would call a "sensitive conscience" that you recognize the harm of things, such as gossip, that other people don't see a problem with at all.

    And G.S., your post makes me cry. I know that what you are saying is true... to think that I took part in such behavior is heartbreaking. To think of the numbers of people who are doing so each Sunday... I will spend time after my next Communion telling Jesus how sorry I am that I and others have treated him this way.

  36. when I decided to be sexually active, part of it was because I didn't understand why it was wrong and I wanted to understand how someone can be an atheist. I didn't want to use the pill, The condom I liked because it was "cleaner" I did become pregnant and tries to be responsible. Had another child. I never received communion, I learned a lot about the mystery of the incarnation. I couldn't get married. I knew he wasn't for me and I didnt' want to get married just to "make things right". I waited to go to confession till I knew I could keep my promise of staying chaste. When I was chaste for one year, I finally went to confession and returned to the church. The father and I still live in the same house and I am wondering when we will finally live separately. I am careful to receive communion in case someone who knows my situation is scandalize when I go to communion so I often go to churches where I am not well known. To many I've simply said we are living as brothers and sisters. I do not know if I will get married or separate.... At times I think God does want me to commit for the children but it is very difficult with a man so closed to anything regarding God.

    I received an amazing grace in which many times I felt my soul praying Lord, bring me back to you, Lord bring me back to you. Now I am verbally praying it for my relatives.

  37. I have a long list of sins and am still trying to root them out. Most damaging were sexual sins and also approving of other's sins. I was slowly hardend to God's way and then just kept on doing the wrong thing. My heart was just hard. Now, I continually ask the Lord to reveal my sins to me and wow does that work. Some sins are horrible habit and some have just been unknown. Our God is such a forgiving God, but I realized that I must make the first step towards Him and then He runs to me with forgiveness. Amazing.

  38. G.S.,
    Although I agree that taking the Eucharist "unworthily" is a very serious sin and causes death to the soul, in order for something to be a mortal sin you must first be aware of it's seriousness...and I think many many Catholics are out there taking the Eucharist blindly, not even believing in the Real Presence...but they don't realize what they're receiving. In God's great mercy...

    I was sort of like the walking dead. I was going it alone, but would call on God in times of trouble. If I got lost in my car, I'd start praying: "God, help me find the way." I'd get mad and start yelling at Him if things didn't go my way. If I got so drunk I thought I was dying, I'd pray: "God, please let me live." I was totally unrepentant, from what I can remember (my memory is terrible). I do remember one night in college, I was staying the weekend at my boyfriend's apartment and getting completely sloshed and high--as usual--and I went to the bathroom. I was sitting there when I heard a voice ask me, "are you ready to put all this aside and live the life I have prepared for you?" I answered, "no."

    It took my marriage hitting bottom and my health going by the wayside for me to get down on my knees and pray relentlessly for months and months until He answered me in many different ways to let me know He truly lives and truly loves.

    Like Nubby, I had my times after conversion where I felt completely unworthy, where Satan would come and tell me I wasn't truly in God's grace, would not receive salvation, etc. This life is hard...and those times will come and go in waves...luckily we have the power of prayer behind us if only we will overcome Satan and his uncanny ability to make prayer seem like an unwanted and unrewarding chore.

    So...I feel like I was living ignorantly and superficially before, and I've finally come to have my eyes opened, so that I may truly have life and have it abundantly :)

  39. P.S. My husband thinks you come up with the best topics of discussion! He says he used to always use the excuse, "I'll do it later" --He knew he was doing wrong but just assumed and took it for granted that he would live long enough to repent and be saved:) There was probably a little of that going on inside me as well...

  40. I'm probably in the minority here, but I didn't start making excuses until I reached college. I grew up in a very, very sheltered environment in which the opportunities for sin were few and far between. When every single moment of your life is supervised, it's really hard to make mistakes, and the ones you do make are pointed out to you; you can't hide. However, when I got to college, things changed drastically. There I came across godless forces that were willing to do whatever it took to get me to do what they wanted, even if it meant threatening me with physical or sexual harm. It's easy to fall into sin if you think that you're doing what's necessary to protect yourself. I admit that was (and hopefully will remain) the absolute lowest point in my life for so many reasons. By the end of the year, I was trying desperately to escape an abusive relationship in which I was told that absolutely nothing could love a creature like me--even God. But I was trying to get out for the wrong reason (if there is one) in that I was so, so angry about the situation, at the man who hurt me, at God for letting this happen. My view didn't change until a friend of mine, concerned that I was letting anger take over my life, convinced me to talk to his priest. I didn't stop using my past as an excuse at that time, but it was a start.

  41. I used the "well, at least I am not...." excuse, the "I can just confess it tomorrow" excuse and then, last but not least, "I was drunk so it wasn't my fault" excuse. It wasn't until much later that somebody pointed out that now getting drunk was the "sin" as I knew what would happen.

  42. well, i guess my excuse was. as long as i am not hurting anyone its fine... and anyways God has made me human, so i have my human limitations.... i know these are lame excuses, but when u r sinning, they dont seem lame, and yeah one more thing, the sin originated from some instance from the past.. so i would question if god let that happen in my life, i can do this.. whats the harm? its because that happened that i am behaving like that... not my fault....

    but yes a sin is a sin, u r in a way hurting yr soul and so God's too... and also of ppl who love u...

    nice post :)

  43. I knew my sins were sins, I was ashamed of them, but it seemed like too much effort to stop. I would tell myself that it was ok because 'one day' I'd stop and that would be before I died... perhaps when I was 80 or so (haha) and God would forgive me and I would go to heaven. Ummm... yeah.

    I didn't understand sin properly and I definitely did not understand how momentous Jesus' sacrifice was and how deep God's love was. Not at all.

    Of course I still sin but I am so thankful I have stopped kidding myself with this all or nothing mentality - that I either had to be perfect or throw in the towel completely - like if you eat one scoop of ice cream you may as well finish the tub. I know now that I can pick myself up and set myself back on the right path - it is hard, but I'm not doing it by my own strength, and the end goal is so very worth it :)

  44. It's amazing to me to hear how similar we all are in how we hear and respond to our conscience. I like the "dazed" comment. That's how it felt to me too. It was asking too much to pay attention to the nagging feelings and acknowledge Truth. Truth was interfering in my life, the way I wanted to live it. Ignoring it and going on with what I knew deep inside was sinful DID feel like a daze. Truth was ideal, but I don't have to be ideal for God to love me. Who COULD live up to that ideal, anyway? No one around me seemed to be even trying to, so I was one-up on them by simply knowing Truth existed.

    However, the dazed lifestyle really did start to muddy up my grasp of Truth and I started embracing concepts like "my truth may not be your truth". Sin breeds confusion...That's it's nature. We end up striving for the wrong things and seeing them as GOOD and TRUTH when they're just the opposite. Because our minds want to and need to to find peace with living how we please.

    Great topic, Leila!

  45. First: I noted how many, if not all of the women here talked or alluded to sexual sins. I find this interesting.

    Second: I struggle every day against the sin of mentally demonizing people in my life who I think are not treating me well. Over and over again I think and speak ill of my Aunt or sometimes even my mother. I am impatient with them and do not give them the benefit of the doubt in the moment. When I am angry, I justify my thoughts/behaviors as being normal reactions, when I know that I am wallowing, and not trying hard enough to change my thought patterns. So I am lazy.

  46. Man this is fascinating! I don't know if I even "know myself" well enough to describe what lies I was telling myself to justify sin. I was a Protestant who went to church regularly in college, but also easily fell into mortal sin.

    I think I had a sense that Jesus was "cool" with things. I got the whole "He sympathizes with our weakness" part without the whole "If you love me you will follow my commandments." So it was like I understood the "Mercy" part of Christ's love without understanding that a) Hell was real and b) it was my job to ASK for his help in avoiding sin.

    I also RATIONALIZED everything. Nothing was a "big deal." I was a good person and NOT like those other sinners who were bad news. For example, there was a major adultery scandal that hit the newspapers when I was in college. I hated that "public sinner" without realizing that my pre-marital sex sins were EXACTLY the same thing. So judging other people as worse Christians than me really helped me dodge contrition.

  47. So, I was raised a Protestant, I don't remember there being any discussion of "sin". I don't remember that vocabulary being used.

    I do remember doing things that I felt bad about and just "felt" wrong. I know I was far away from God for a long time, though He was never far from me. He literally saved my life, when I did not deserve it: He prevented me from committing suicide. That was when I wasn't sure God existed.

    I also did a fair amount of rationalization: I'm a good person despite xyz sin. Or I'm not a murderer... not having read the Bible yet, I didn't realize Jesus considers anger towards another equal to murder. Boy, did that convicted me!

    And now... I am aware of sin and asking God to help me recognize it in my life and root it out. But I am all too weak. I keep praying and asking for His help.


  48. I was thinking about the difference in the sin of my life since returning to God. I used to actively sin, doing things I knew to be wrong. However, now I feel like I have sins of omission (such as not reading the Bible, skipping prayers, etc.) which I justify with "I don't have time", or "I'm exhausted".

  49. Mary,

    So very true for me too. I recently told my husband that I do not think I have gone to confession one time in the past 10 (maybe 20!) years that I did not have to confess speaking negatively about somebody behind their back. I also find myself very critical of others. This makes it difficult to get close to any other women as I subconciously assume they are also critical of me.

  50. For me, my first venture into sexual sin, which by the way wasn't until my college years, was not really something that I "chose." Thinking I'd wait to get married and then experiencing date rape threw me for a loop, although I still have a hard time using the "r" word in association with what happened. Having placed myself in more similar situations after this first experience, eventually I wanted to OWN it and CHOOSE it for myself, maybe even enjoy it. From there it was easy to NOT go to church, NOT pray (since it dropped off in high shcool anyway) and NOT think about it. Until eventually I no longer wanted that relationship, at which point I spiraled out of control even worse and ended up with an STD. Even this did not prevent me from stopping my horribly immoral behavior. Eventually moving home and living at home brought me back to church and the parish priest there taught the Truth! Thank GOD!!! Learning TOB showed me the beauty of our sexuality and what it was meant to be. So thankful to be happily married and out of that horrible mess I was in....

  51. Anonymous, you are not alone in that. That's the story of a lot of women. :( Praise God that He led you back home.

  52. I didn't have time to read all the comments, but from the ones I read, it seems like I can't really relate to them.
    I have been Catholic all my life. Born, raised in a devout Catholic home. Went to a REAL Catholic College and married a very holy man.
    During the past 10 years of my life I have excused my sins (in my mind, while committing them) that I am a bad person and God doesn't love me so who cares if I do something bad...that is what He expects from me anyway. It is a downward slope. After a few years I TRULY believe with my whole being that God didn't love me (cause He refused to give me children) so He can't really expect me to love Him. My sins were not things like stealing, impurity, murder, which I knew were wrong no matter what God had to do with them. My sins were those of selfishness, impatience, envy and such! They destroyed me from the inside out. I still struggle with these sins because they have become habitual.

  53. I've always had a strong moral compass, even as a child. I definitely knew right from wrong and felt guilty most of the time, even when I didn't do anything wrong. My parents spent significant time and energy raising my brother (several years older) and by the time I came along, they were pretty much spent. When I was in 2nd grade, my dad was fired from his lucrative position and had a nervous breakdown, and my mom started working to support the family and developed a problem with alcohol. I recall committing two sins as a teenager and realize now that I did so to get attention. The first sin was fairly innocuous and involved swearing and then lying about it. The second sin involved stealing food which I did with some degree of frequency. This was in part to rebel against my mom who put me on a strict diet when I was 10. I stole ice cream, potato chips and candy and continued to do so for a couple of years until the guilt I was feeling started to suffocate me. Obviously, I kept getting larger and larger as my weight became more unmanageable. To this day, my parents and brother have no idea why I got so fat.

    Years later, while working, I became intertwined in series of events that involved some degree of lying and cover up but I had convinced myself that what had occurred was for the moral good. In hindsight, I did hurt two of my peers for which I would like to make reparation but politically can't, at least in the short term.

    In terms of pre-marital sex, I pretty much avoided that most of my life, although probably because of lack of confidence in myself to some degree. I was raised during an era that it was fairly common to have sex first, get pregnant and then marry (most of my friends and family did it in that order). Recently, thinking I was in love, I offered pre-marital sex as I thought the guy would be giving up too much for me and there was no other way to achieve "togetherness." However, it was a "catch 22" as I would have lost respect for this guy if he pursued my offer so ultimately it was a false offer. BTW, I realized that I never was "in love" with this guy, but did love him as a friend and still do to this day.


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