“For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” Romans 7:19
You know that feeling, when you’re getting ready for confession, or just doing an examination of conscience at the end of your day, or after you’ve done something you know you should not have done, where you are so overwhelmed with your sin? Well, I’ve been feeling that a lot. I know what is good. I know that I’m striving for holiness, for sainthood. I know my goal is Heaven, union with the Lord. And yet, with this knowledge, I still fail. I fall and I sin. Not only do I fall, I fall in the same way over and over again. I go to confession and commit to sinning no more. I commit to avoiding whatever may lead me to sin. But shortly after leaving the confessional and finishing my penance, I commit the exact same sin I just confessed.
While I sometimes convince myself I am the only one who experiences this train wreck of a situation, I know that I’m not the only one. I know that we all experience something similar. And it’s really discouraging. I get in such a rut when I reflect on it. I pray every day to grow closer to the Lord, to follow His will more perfectly, to be in each moment of every day His hands and feet, and yet I still fall. And we’re taught that Jesus conquered sin and that we are called to be holy and perfect as our heavenly Father is holy and perfect. Yet, even though I’m committed to the Lord and actively living my faith, I still fall.
The reality check is in this: I am only able to be holy and perfect with God’s help. And I receive God’s help in the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist, among other ways, and my sadness about my sin actually draws me to these sacraments more, and therefore give me more opportunities to be healed by the Lord.
“What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” Romans 7:15
This verse helps me because it reminds me that I’m not the only one struggling, even St. Paul struggled. The Lord still used St. Paul in amazing and huge ways to bring tons of people to the faith, even in Paul’s weakness. And Paul made it to Heaven, even though he continued to fall.
What’s more important is not that I keep falling but that I keep getting back up dusting myself off and seeking the Lord’s mercy.