Some things I have learned #28

Subtitle: Or, at the least, I think I believe

Sub-subtitle: Or, at the most, I believe I know

On paralysis and the sin of pride, repentance and forgiveness…

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Some people came, bringing to (Jesus) a paralyzed man…(Jesus) said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven…(and) I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” And he stood up, and immediately took the mat and went out before all of them; so that they were all amazed and glorified God (Mark 2.3a, 5b, 11-12a)

Paralysis, often understood in the physical sense, can take other forms; which I have known.

I have engaged in the intellectual “paralysis of analysis”; overthinking something to the point of doing nothing.

I also have experienced the emotional and spiritual paralysis of heart and soul during times, long times when I:

Resisted moving forward toward the enactment (and the potential fulfillment) of a dream because I was afraid to depart the strange comfort of the familiarity of what already was, even when it was unpleasant…

Rejected a new or another (any other) way of thinking, retaining an old idea without testing it to discern its current or continuing truth…

Refused to relinquish a long-held crippling, self-defeating self-view.

When, in a word, I remained inside, refraining from stepping outside “the box” (the prison!) of life that I had constructed out of the materials of my way of perceiving reality and operating largely (solely!) on my will of how things should be and should be done.

In the light of the story of Jesus healing the paralytic, long I pondered what was the sin that provoked my paralysis.[1] I have come to believe that it was…is the sin of my pride.

Pride rooted in the false belief of my self-sufficiency (or that I should be self-sufficient).

Pride by which “I” always is capitalized, engraved in bold and everyone else, even god is inscribed in lowercase.

Pride that acknowledges little gratitude and admits less need, thus leaving me, in essential ways, living as an island apart from the continent of humankind.

Pride that wears hypocrisy’s mask, playing to (yet hiding from) the crowd, seldom sharing an honest thought or heartfelt feeling; thus, being unknown to others and (as I have come to believe it is through relationships that I can continue to become me) unknown to myself.

Pride that, blind of heart, cannot see my innate connection to all of life – the cosmos, the environment, and every human being.

Jesus inaugurated his public ministry, saying, “The time is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the good news.”[2] Jesus proclaimed that the realm of God’s life and love was near, thus, to be enfleshed in our daily lives and living.

As kingdom was Jesus’ first preaching, his first teaching was repentance; turning away from self to turn again toward God.

When I reflect on human living and relationships, and, speaking always and only for myself, my human living and relationships, repeatedly (for, truly, given my stubbornly human self-will, it never is or can be a one-time thing!) I acknowledge my need to repent of my sin of pride.

And when(ever) I repent, receiving gladly God’s gift of forgiveness, I am free from my paralysis, allowing me, once again, to take up my mat and walk, glorifying God.

© 2021 PRA

Illustration: Jesus Heals the Palsied Man Let Down Through the Roof, James Tissot (1836-1902)


[1] By sin, I do not mean my inward iniquity or outward wrongdoing (although I possess plenty of each and both!), but rather my inauthentic humanity in not being fully myself, indeed, my self as God has created me.

[2] Mark 1.15

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