We all have weaknesses. We all have areas in our lives where we fail time and time again. While doing some rather heavy introspection lately I have come to the conclusion that I am guilty of committing one sin more than any other.
The sin of omission.
It is an easy one to get sucked into because there are so many ways you can excuse yourself from not acting, not saying, not doing. And indeed my best and long suffering excuse is that I am weak and shy and I don’t do well at standing up in a crowd of already raised voices to speak my mind. It’s just an excuse. It doesn’t negate the act (or non-action) nor heal the emotional or physical consequence of my habitual “not doing”.
So many things I have chosen not to say. Leaving a void as wide as my guilt is deep. A void that people, being human and acting accordingly have chosen to fill with their own interpretations of what they think should go into that nice empty space. Or what serves them best. Not their fault, I left the empty space.
There was a story I was told a long time ago. It’s about a woman who had gone about the town spreading rumors and hateful things about many of her neighbors. She felt remorse and wanted to find a way to fix the hurt she had caused. She consulted a wiseman who was known throughout the land for his far reaching intelligence. She told him what she had done. He listened to her story and her sadness. When she was finished he looked at her and said,
“The first thing you should do is take this basket of feathers. Place one feather on each doorstep of a person you have hurt with your words and then come back to me.”
The woman thankfully took the basket and began her work. By dawn, she was finished and hurried back to the wiseman. She said,
“I have done what you have asked me to.”
The wiseman smiled and said,
“This is very good. Now you must go back to each of those houses and retrieve each of the feathers from the doorsteps. Once you have all the feathers back in the basket everyone will forgive you and your sin against them will be forgiven and forgotten.”
The woman stared at him. She said,
“But those feathers won’t be there. The wind will have blown them away by now… they will be gone.” The man smiled at the woman. “As are your words, like the feathers, gone, blown far and wide and gathering them and taking them back is impossible…”
Now granted, I differ from this woman because I am not in the habit of speaking falsehoods and ugliness of or towards people. But replace “rumors” with “things left unsaid” and I am not so different. I have never been one to weigh sin against sin. I have never been one to say one sin justifies another. No matter what someone else has done to me it does not justify mine done purposely or inadvertently against them. It just doesn’t. I am busted. I am guilty.
Where do I go from here? Do I have the courage to stand amongst the screaming and speak my mind? Will I no longer hesitate when a space between me and a friend needs an “I love you”? Will I find the kindness and insight needed to say “I forgive you.” when I would rather coddle my pride, furrow my brow and push away an already humble heart? Will I jump to say “I am sorry.” before time stretches the chasm hopelessly wide?
What will I do? What would you do?