By Sharon Wilson
I sat outside of the parish office waiting for an appointment with the priest. I was sure that a lightning bolt could come down and zap me. Who was I to be this close to a church? I had no right to be there.
Like the sinful woman who anoints Jesus – I came with trepidation and didn’t feel like I belonged, but I came anyway.
It had been 25 years since my last confession, but something pulled me to the church. Unlike the sinful woman, I came with my pride and arrogance. I had come to have a discussion and ask questions about the church’s teachings. I had come for a meeting. A meeting is something I can control. Confession was not on my mind.
Sometimes even a small gesture of love can throw you off your usual game. As I greeted the priest at the parish office, he offered me a cup of coffee.
I watched as he pulled out a cup from the cupboard and ran it under hot tap water before pouring the coffee.
I must have looked puzzled because he responded to my unasked question. “Warming the cup,” he said. A simple gesture of love. It was the start of me taking down my guard.
I spoke with the priest, defending my actions on why my past and history were completely justified. I argued and he listened. At one point, I got up to leave out of some sort of frustration and anger. At that moment, he asked me one question. “What are you afraid of Sharon?” he said.
The words hit me like a ton of bricks. I sat back down and cried and entered into a confession of my whole life.
As I poured out my heart and cried my tears, I was filled with something else. I encountered sanctifying grace. I felt love.
For days, weeks and months I walked around in a daze giddy with the realization that “God is real and He knows me and loves me!”
Even in this realization of knowing God’s love for me, I couldn’t believe it was true. I am a sinner. I have committed some of the worst sins imaginable. I believed that I had committed what I thought was the unforgivable sin. Who could love me? I certainly couldn’t love myself.
In Chapter 8 Colleen Mitchell explains,
“His eyes are trained on our bending down, leaning in, and pouring out. He has tunnel vision for love and mercy. If we offer ourselves to him in love and receive his mercy freely, we become his greatest assets – they who have loved much”
After my conversion experience, I remember going back to this priest often asking again and again, “What can I do to repay Him: to repay Christ for this great gift of mercy?” What does God want from me? What can I give him in return for this love?
Love, that is the only thing God wants from me or you. To honor Christ is to simply love. It occurred to me that if we simply love, if we truly love, we can go and sin no more.
Have you ever felt that you could never be loved? Sometimes when we come up against an incredibly difficult situation or if we have had a history of neglect or even abuse we may not feel worthy of love, even God’s love. My encounter that day started with a small gesture of love, “warming the cup” – Can you recall when a small gesture of love led to a great impact on you or others?
Sometimes, even after encountering the love of God, we can forget His great love for us and that he loves us just the way we are. In those times it can be especially helpful to call upon some piece of scripture that resonates with you and helps you to remember that you are a child of God: A daughter, a princess and his precious one. What scripture passages help you to remember how much you are loved?
The woman at the feet of Christ bent low to anoint Him and washed his feet with her tears. It took the act of bending low to allow herself to pour out her pain and receive his mercy. Pride, arrogance, ego and fear can keep us from receiving God’s mercy. What obstacles in your life keep you from bending low and baring all your sin? What obstacles keep you from receiving His mercy? Pour it out like the anointing oil in that alabaster jar. Offer it as a gift to Jesus.
It is only in this crazy faith of ours that God can take something ugly, difficult, painful or even sinful and turn it into something beautiful. What have you been holding back? Offer it generously to God.
“What are you afraid of?”
About the Author:
Sharon Wilson – Wife, Mother, Writer, Catholic Speaker, and a WINE Specialist. Sharon has a degree in education and has worked as a freelance writer, Respect Life Coordinator, a teacher, in advertising, radio, buyer and in youth advocacy – She even rode an elephant in the circus once! Sharon speaks, writes and shares about God’s healing and about the great gift of being Catholic.