The other day I was pondering how God had mercy on me even though I felt I did not deserve it. I was and will be forever grateful.
This got me thinking about all the people out there who feel like they can never be forgiven because their sins are too numerous or bad or perhaps they have been away from God for a long time.
I, myself, had been away from God for at least 18 years. That’s a long time. Some have been away from God much longer than that and some much less….but it doesn’t matter.
Satan wants us to feel despair and not have any hope whatsoever. He wants us to feel like no matter what we do, we will never get to heaven and there are no second chances. That is a lie. On the other hand, he will convince others that no matter what they do, God will forgive them even if they never ask for forgiveness or stay in their sin thinking all will be well. this is the sin of Presumption.
So, one sin is Despair and the other Presumption. I have experienced both of these scenarios.
Once I was old enough to start “partying” I began the stage of becoming lukewarm in my faith and love for God. God no longer played an important role in my life….all I thought about were my friends and where we were going to go on the weekends. Once I left home and went to college I decided I no longer had to go to Mass every Sunday. First mistake. Now, I was in mortal sin. I was becoming dead to grace. I then decided I no longer had to go to confession. Second mistake.
These two big mistakes led to many other wayward choices I made in my young life. Choices I would never have made had I kept God in my life and obeyed His commandments. I no longer had His “light” or strength to stay on the straight and narrow path. There were brief instances during those years where I would think I needed to get back to God but they were quickly dispelled.
I married in my early twenties and continued to think that “I was a good person” so I would get to Heaven eventually, even though, I admitted I would probably be in purgatory for awhile before getting there. I never even thought that I could go to Hell. My sin of Presumption. I had to justify my behavior and we all justify our wrong behavior because that is the only way we would be able to live with ourselves. Otherwise we would go mad.
After our daughter was born I went to Graduate School….it was during this time that I began to feel a deep sadness. I couldn’t figure it out…I had everything I ever wanted. A wonderful Husband and beautiful daughter and life was good. But, it was not. I would sit on the floor feeling darkness envelop me and I thought I was becoming depressed. I didn’t know why but the darkness kept getting darker. I could not escape it.
I decided I would go to confession. I did, but it wasn’t a good confession. I didn’t know my sins and I didn’t even know how to pray anymore. There was no feeling or emotion left in me. I was so distant from God. I went from lukewarm to ice cold. I went to Mass a few times and then went back to my old way of life.
I do believe that even though I was in the sin of presumption, thinking that I was ok, I knew deep down that if I would die at that particular moment, things would not be good. I had a great fear of dying; of getting into a car accident or something like that. I must have known deep down that dying without God, not loving God, or being in the State of Grace at death would and could be Hell for all eternity for me. I did not voice those thoughts or even think those thoughts because if I had I would have changed my life. Rather, I kept pushing it deeper and deeper within me not wanting to admit this scenario, but my conscious was trying to reveal this truth to me and I knew it. Now, if you are in the state of grace or have enough reason within you, you will know that there is no fear in dying if you are right with God. I knew I wasn’t right with God.
By the grace of God our daughter was going to a Catholic School and she would bring home prayers for me to say….she would tape them to the wall by our bed and ask me to say them. They were prayers to the Holy Spirit. I said them a few times and then forgot about them. However, after a few years of this, and my seeing how virtuous she was, my heart began to melt. I couldn’t figure out how I could be so bad and have a daughter who was so good.
By the time she was 12, I was becoming more and more open to God. God used my parents, husband and daughter to bring me back to Him. My father was having heart surgery and when I asked him what kind of books he would like me to get him to read during his recuperation phase, he gave me a list of religious books from Tan Books. While going over his list, I decided to get some myself. That was a true beginning for me. Years before that, my parents bought my husband and I a painting of the Divine Mercy Image. I stuck it upstairs on some obscure wall, not knowing what to do with it, and our daughter continued the mission God had in store for her. She would make me angels, a crucifix, and give me prayers which she framed, all wrapped up as gifts. I was also forced by my husband to be the one to teach her about the Eucharist when she was to make her First Communion (which really made me irritated).
God’s plans are so mysterious in how He reaches out to us and brings us back. He knows all of our pains and woundedness. He knows how to soften our hearts like no one else ever could. He knew why I left Him and He knew that one day, with the help of those whom I loved, their love and patience would bring me back. No one forced me to come back; I came back out of my own free will.
But, God allowed something to happen to me that hurried me along. I hurt my back pretty bad so I was immobile for a long time. I immediately ran to the Blessed Mother and began praying the rosary once again, which led me back to Jesus. One day, I heard a Priest speaking about sin on EWTN. I immediately was crushed with the deepest sorrow and soaked with my own tears. I remembered the Painting of the Divine Mercy Image…ran to take it off the wall and held it in my hands and cried out to God to please give me a second chance. I begged Him to not let me go to Hell but to please give me another chance.
You see, Satan was now tempting me with the sin of despair. I was in the deepest state of despair believing that no matter what – I was now going to Hell and nothing could stop this from happening. God was in control, I was bad and I basically made my choice. I could not believe there was any hope for me. After about 45 minutes of intense begging and tears that would not stop flowing, I renounced my sinful life and began to bargain with God…telling Him I would change everything about my life; come back to Him; learn about Him once again; and obey His commandments. I wanted to love Him and get right with Him again. At that moment, I began to get thoughts that I needed to call a Priest immediately and go to confession. I did this and this Priest reassured me that once I repented and gave up my sinful life, God’s mercy was able to banish satans lies which told me there is no hope. He told me that no matter what my sins were, no matter how bad they are, we can all be forgiven, if and only if, we are willing to repent and ask for forgiveness.
Afterall, look at the prophets of old. Moses killed a man and look how God used him. King David committed adultery and had the woman’s husband killed….yet God used him in a powerful way. Trust me, God uses all of our weaknesses to help fulfill the mission each one of us has while on this earth. The Apostles were commen men who were not saintly when Jesus chose them to lead the Church.
The only time one cannot be saved is when they are in the sin of despair because they won’t accept God’s forgiveness. God will always forgive, but we must accept His forgiveness. Judas could not believe he could be forgiven and hanged himself. He was in the sin of despair. Jesus so badly wanted to forgive him, but he (Judas) just couldn’t accept what he had done to Jesus and therefore felt as though Jesus could not forgive him. What a terrible lie.
God Bless all of you and may you all have hope. God will always be there for you and be there waiting for you to return to the fold. But remember one thing…..none of us know the day or hour that we will be taken. We don’t know if we have an hour left or 50 years….so don’t delay.