I had a pretty shitty weekend.
But I got something out of it. The knowledge that at least part of my self-image, the part that compares me to others and wonders why they get what they want when I tend to not, is based in a world where I am being punished for some sin or short falling. I’m not sure where that all came from; a church during my childhood that taught the evils of sin (which I don’t remember being the case), a nearly puritan style of morality that the Christian Right is proclaiming in spades these days (again, not sure where that would’ve come from), or just the fluke of a white guy growing up with some semblance of an honor-shame system of social interaction in an country where shame is decidedly a relative term.
I’ve felt for some time now that I don’t get the girl because of choices in my past, that I don’t picked for positions in the world around me because I did the wrong thing in some moral decision when I was six years old. That my punishment is to live a life where I watch others get what I want. Tie that in with one person to compare myself to, one person to have a formless voice point to and say, “There is your standard” and it becomes easy, at least to me, to see why it feels like the goalposts keep getting moved on me, the standard is always just ahead, but never to be reached, and I that I fail where this other succeeds. Now have that other get chosen over me for things I have both offered to do or have shown skill in before and get what I once desired in love not once but two or three times over and you have a nice little version of hell right here on earth.
But I’m not schizophrenic, at least I don’t think I am (most of my friends seem to also see my other friends, so I think I’m good on the imaginary people front), so the formless voice pointing out the standard and making sure I never get to it is really me telling me I’m not good enough; that there is a dark stain on my life that will always hold me back. But then that’s easy to counter. Everyone has a dark stain. I never learned in history class of a President of the United States who did everything right in his life. The best students in school were also the most disturbed. The nicest people I knew were also the most haunted in some way. I’m no different and no one else is really much better. The key is to know that God forgives everything. That if God is Love then it must be enough to wash his entire creation clean.
I think part of the Lord’s Prayer, dare I say it, needs to be amended. When we say, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us, we should tag on a line about having the strength to be forgiven. The reality is that I may never get the girl and I may never be chosen over others in the goals I desire. And it does not change the fact that this other does get chosen over me many times in life. But I can throw off the burden of this dark stain and wear it proudly saying, “Yes, it’s there, but I’m forgiven of it and it will be the horse I ride on into heaven.”