In my last article in Public Orthodoxy, I shared a reflection on the Jesus Prayer.
An important facet of the prayer—one that I often overlook or speed past—is acknowledging in humility and truth before God that I am a sinner.
We are often afraid to acknowledge our fallen areas and our need for growth. When we are not mindful of the portion of the Jesus Prayer that precedes the word sinner—mercy—our guilt from past wrongs can lead us to shame. We believe that not only did we commit bad actions, but that we are our bad actions and therefore are bad.
The Holy Spirit, however, has a very different trajectory when it comes to sin.
The Spirit reminded me of two occasions in elementary school when I was harmful to a fellow schoolmate. I experienced tremendous regret for those actions, but the Spirit prevented me from going down the path of discouragement. Instead, I began spontaneously to shed tears for these past wrongs, tears that did not promote sadness but healing, renewal, and gratitude.Continue reading