SPOILER: This post has to do with church, so if you really don’t want to read it or think that you will have a negative response, don’t read it; there’s no point in anyone getting angry. If, however, you are able to keep an open mind, please read on. The following is just something I’ve been thinking about for a while… who knows? Maybe you’ll find something to agree with. Or not. Doesn’t matter.
Many of you have heard about sinning, regardless of whether you believe in it or not. A sin is an action (voluntary or involuntary) that basically hurts either you or other people. I’d say sin is the opposite of love. According to the church there are seven main sins that are considered ‘deadly’: pride, greed, envy, anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth (check out this website for more in-depth definitions). Today, I will be writing about pride:
I keep hearing all sorts of generalizations about Christianity and how those of us who have faith in the Christian church (no matter what denomination) are Bible-thumping prudes that are out of touch with the ‘real world.’ And what can I say? Yes, I am Ukrainian Catholic and my views on life tend to be more traditional, but that does not mean I am out of touch with the real world. I live in it, don’t I? I am somehow able to function in a world where my views are not the most popular. But the more I think about why many people I meet are against the church (or any kind of dogma, religion, faith, whatever you want to call it), the more I find myself looking at the church through their eyes, in order to help me understand better. And at this point, I feel like I might have found a beginning to an answer that at least makes sense to me: I keep seeing members of the church that are very proud of their faith and as a result they tend to judge others very harshly instead of responding with love and acceptance. I keep seeing examples of people saying things like, “You’re going to go to hell for this” and I find myself thinking, “How do you know?”
I want to share a story about a very remarkable man I met a little over a year ago. I was in Winnipeg doing a two-week program called Serve at The Welcome Home, a mission of St. Alphonsus Liguori that seeks to serve the less fortunate in the community. During my stay, we participants were required to volunteer at a nearby drop-in center. We did things like serve breakfast, clean up dishes, and run activities such as bingo. This one particular day, I was working the floor, chatting with some people that were waiting for the breakfast lines to open. I was just about to get up from my seat when a man plopped in a chair across from me and promptly began talking. This man’s name is Brian. Brian struggles with alcoholism and at the time of our meeting, he was doing pretty well. He had finally gotten himself a place to live and, I believe, was in search of work. However, he was still struggling with alcoholism and sometimes found himself in relapse of his old habits. Nevertheless, this man’s faith was so strong (“I was saved in ’82,” he kept saying) and he told me, “I know I’m not perfect, but I know that Jesus forgives me and loves me no matter what I do, and I just keep trying to get better.”
We are taught to be humble in our faith and many of us (me included) aren’t. We are proud that we have values, we are proud that we don’t get ‘sucked into sex and drugs.’ And it’s time this kind of pride stopped. In that moment, when I met Brian, I was so humbled and in awe of this man who many would consider to be a waste of space, who some might say is “going to hell” because he gets sucked into alcohol. He is the reason I try so hard not to pride myself on my faith because my faith is so little compared to his, and that’s nothing to be proud of.
So, again, I issue a challenge. Tomorrow is Monday, the start of a brand new week. Take this week to look at your life and monitor your pride. This applies to all people, not just those of faith, because I also know plenty of people who pride themselves on the fact that they do not follow a specific religion. While you’re checking out your pride-o-meters, also take the chance to give the other person the benefit of the doubt when you meet them; you never know how they can change your life if you only humble yourself enough in their presence.