Posts tagged: Forgiveness

The Time to Deal with Death

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:29 pm

Today’s entry is an excerpt from the novella Wasteland:

In the social structure and order that I hope you enjoy, it is easy to feel contempt and embarrassment when the mention of sin is made. Sin is a gross term. An ugly one. We prefer to label it, “Freedom of choice.” “Alternative lifestyles.” “Situational ethics.” “Tolerance.” It’s fine to label a murderer as a murderer—unless, of course, that murderer holds political office, or is an upstanding citizen, or a savvy lawyer. Then it is a matter of “extenuating circumstances,” and at best, “manslaughter,” or preferably “temporary insanity.”

But to define wrong as sin, and to use images such as leprosy in order to convey it—that is a social faux pas of the first order. But that, too, is the first symptom of sin: for just as leprosy destroys nerve-endings so that the victim is not aware of decaying and wounded and rotting flesh, so also sin deadens our senses so that we are unaware of our decaying and wounded and rotting souls.

We throw a thousand excuses at sin. We claim that our dysfunctional families and society made us what we are. We agree that if it feels good, and doesn’t hurt anyone, it can’t be wrong. We affirm that if the end is good, any means is justified in attaining it.

But this is all hypocrisy and self-justification. Just as we claim that there are little sins and big ones. For if murder is the destruction of the body, isn’t gossip the destruction of trust? Slander the destruction of relationships? Adultery the destruction of fidelity? Isn’t anger as sharp a blow as physical abuse, and isn’t gluttony as much an orgy as alcoholism? And for the passive sins—isn’t sloth the killer of ingenuity? Pride the hammer-blow to equality? Envy the destroyer of peace?

If we can ever get on our knees enough to acknowledge sin, we will find damnation coming hard on its heels. This is another subject to be ignored by polite society. We all know that we sin, but we refuse to call it by its rightful name. We all know that we will die, but we dance desperately in the sun in a vain effort to stay the coming of the night. But once you realize the truth of your own immortality—once you hear the voice of your judge reverberating through the night-time of your soul—once you recognize sin for the rupture in the universe that it is—then you will know the fear of damnation. For to give up an infinite good—to spit in the face of Someone of infinite good—is an infinite evil demanding infinite retribution.

But that is not a topic of conversation for morning coffee breaks. We save it for the bedsides of the sick and dying, and wonder why the hopelessness remains.

The time to deal with death is when you are still alive. Afterwards, it is too late. Face your fears and doubts and questions while you have the strength to seek out the answers. The strength to hammer on the door of eternity until Truth lifts the latch.

For he who asks, receives. He who seeks, finds. And to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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Restoring Our Sensitivity to Sin

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By Paula Marolewski, July 11, 2010 4:23 pm

“Why don’t I feel guilty?”

Have you ever asked that question of yourself? You knew you had done wrong. You knew it when you made the decision to commit the sin. You didn’t act out of ignorance. You hadn’t made a “mistake.” But even after your sin “found you out” and you were faced with the consequences, you still felt no guilt.

Some people would say, “You shouldn’t feel guilty! You were victimized by others and acted out of your own significant hurt.”

And perhaps that is true. Perhaps you were victimized. Perhaps you are in pain. That doesn’t mean you are excused from moral responsibility – and from moral guilt.

But what if, based upon your Christian faith, you acknowledge your moral responsibility but still feel nothing but emptiness inside? No true feeling of guilt? What is going on?

If you experience this, it is a definite warning sign – a warning that you have become de-sensitized to sin. All of us can fall into this trap. While there are several reasons we can become de-sensitized to sin, the biggest is probably this: we become de-sensitized because of repeated acts of sin. I read an illustration once (I cannot recall where now), that said the path of sin is similar to sticking a piece of duct tape to your arm and tearing it off. It hurts like crazy the first time – that’s guilt and conscience. But put that same piece of tape on again and tear it away, and it hurts less … there’s less stickiness to it, and less for it to stick onto. Repeat and repeat, and finally the tape won’t stick at all. Similarly, when we repeat sin again and again in our lives, eventually it doesn’t appear to us to be sin at all.

So what do we do when we realize that we have sinned … and that we feel no guilt about it?

Confess and repent of your sin. You see, both confession and repentance are acts of the will. They have nothing to do with our emotions. Certainly, it’s easier to repent if we also feel sorrowful and have an appropriate sense of guilt (since that drives us to our knees faster), but it’s not necessary. Acknowledge your sin, admit your offense against God and man, and make the decision to change your ways. God will forgive you.

Now, however, having taken the most important step of restoring your relationship with God, you need to re-sensitize yourself to sin, so that you recognize it for what it is and resurrect your conscience to help you avoid it. Here are some steps that may prove helpful:

First, I would suggest praying a very, very difficult prayer. It is taken from Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises. The prayer is this:

“I beg for intense and increasing sorrow and tears for my sins.”

Ouch. Such a prayer hurts. It will take guts to pray it, but I believe it is an important and necessary step. I encourage you to make it personal, for instance:

“I beg for intense and increasing sorrow and tears for my sins, and a renewed and holy sense of guilt for what I have done. I pray that You would restore to me a horror and hatred of sin that will drive me to You.”

I believe that God will answer that prayer, because it is a prayer to be Christ-like. In the short run, it will hurt like anything, but in the long run, it will be for your good and his glory.

Next, I would spend time thinking about the effect your sin had on the life of the person(s) you sinned against. Imagine how their beliefs about themselves and life and other people have been twisted. Imagine their sense of pain, loss, betrayal, and fear. Imagine how their relationship with God or other people may be scarred for life because of what you did. Imagine how you might have helped set them on a path of sin and death, de-sensitizing their conscience and deceiving their minds.

This will hurt. Let it hurt. Pray that God will give you the grace to embrace the hurt, then give the hurt over to him.

Finally, I encourage you to pray for the person(s) you sinned against. Pray for their:

  • Spirit, that God would draw them to himself if they do not know him, or that they would be restored in their faith.
  • Emotions, that God would bring healing for the pain, fear, self-loathing, etc. Imagine the emotions they might be feeling, and pray specifically about those things.
  • Mind, that God would remove lies, deceptions, and self-justifications and help them to understand and embrace the Truth.
  • Body, that God would bring healing if there are physical wounds from your sin.
  • Relationships, that God would give them people to support, love, care, and encourage them.

Bear in mind that re-sensitizing your spirit will take time, just as de-sensitizing it did. Do not be surprised if, as you continue to grow in the Lord, you find yourself “awakening” more and more to the horror and guilt of your sin. That is healthy, if it is treated appropriately: accept the sensitivity with thanksgiving and rejoice, for you are forgiven! Satan plays with guilt two ways: removing our sense of it so that we can’t recognize sin, and heightening our sense of it so that we can’t recognize forgiveness. Remember: God intended guilt to let us know we had done wrong, so that he could make it right.  


© 2009 Paula Marolewski


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How to Pray for the Complete Person

Why Talk About Sin?

How Does Deception Begin?

Overcoming Sin

What Makes God Spit

Flagrant Sin

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By Paula Marolewski, January 27, 2010 7:15 am

I recently encountered the question: How should we respond to people who come to the church with flagrant sins in their background (i.e., sodomy, sexual crimes, murder, etc.)?

Here are three recommendations:

  • First, don’t sugarcoat sin. Don’t pass off what people did lightly and say “Oh, it’s okay!” Don’t make excuses for it. Call it for what it is and look at it in the revealing light of the Word of God.
  • Second, emphasize, encourage, and expect transformation of character through the grace of God. It’s not enough to preach it – the church needs to put accountability and discipleship relationships in place to help people grow and change.
  • Third, let the past be the past. Don’t deny the past (that is why accountability relationships are important), but don’t focus on it either. The past is a done deal, and the old man is in the grave. Focus on who people are now – not what they were – and who they can become through God’s grace. Give people a fresh start.

Oh … and one more thing, just as a reminder: we all come to the church with flagrant sins in our background. They might be the sins of envy, greed, or gossip rather than abuse, adultery, or theft, but they are still sins that separate us from God, fester as a cancer in our soul, and destroy the vitality of our life.

So the fact is, all of us need to put into practice the above recommendations. When we realize that – and practice that – the humility of our hearts and the grace of our God will so shine in our lives that the world will be drawn to the saving Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Moving Toward Forgiveness

By Paula Marolewski, October 27, 2009 9:58 am

I’ve been considering forgiveness lately. Not forgiveness of the little slights and sins that come every day from rubbing shoulders with the rest of humanity. But forgiveness of the really egregious sins … forgiveness when real pain has been inflicted and real harm has been done, perhaps with malice aforethought.

The pain, the hurt, the grief that is caused by such acts as flagrant adultery, peddling drugs, physical abuse, etc. The list is a long one, highly individualized, and added to every day.

As I considered sin and our call to grant forgiveness, I was struck anew at how hard it is to forgive. And I believe that is, actually, appropriate.

After all, in order to offer true forgiveness, we have to come to grips with true evil. If we just flippantly say, “Yes, I forgive you!” but we have not truly understood either the corruption of the human heart or the pain such evil has caused another, our words are devoid of meaning. It is only after we have felt the horror of evil that our offer of forgiveness can be real.

Too often, however, we stop there. We are paralyzed by the evil, and so we cannot offer the balm of forgiveness.

It is vital to take the second step: to grasp the infinite love, grace, and forgiveness of God. Love that is greater than the horror of true evil. Grace that reaches to the unbelievable depths of corruption in the human heart. Forgiveness that calls the foulest sinner into perfect and intimate relationship with a holy God.

Only then – having truly comprehended both the nature of evil and the triumph of the Cross – can we then begin to extend fully the forgiveness of God to a needy world.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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Be Honest When You’ve Been Hurt

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By Paula Marolewski, September 22, 2009 9:09 am

Too often, I think we minimize or brush off our own hurt. Someone offends or wounds us, and even if they ask us about it we say dismissively, “It’s okay.” But it’s not okay. We’re bleeding inside, and our relationship with the other person has been damaged.

I believe we do both ourselves and the other person a disservice when we aren’t honest about the hurts we receive. Honesty is, in fact, a prerequisite to forgiveness – and forgiveness is the healing balm for both our wounded soul and the wounded relationship.

But being honest can be a tough proposition! So here are four guidelines to help practice healthy honesty:

  • First, don’t assume the other person realizes that they hurt you. The truth is, we sometimes mis-communicate or are ignorant of the effect of what we said or did.
  • Second, don’t point fingers. Honesty isn’t about lashing out and hurting or condemning the other person. Simply state what happened and how it made you feel.
  • Third, keep to the point. Don’t bring up past wounds or mask the present problem with specious arguments. Keep to the current issue and deal with it.
  • Fourth, don’t demand that the other person ask your forgiveness. Forgiveness must be freely asked for and freely given. Just do your part: be honest.

© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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The Inadequacy of Being Sorry

By Paula Marolewski, August 27, 2009 7:05 am

When it comes to giving and receiving forgiveness, “I’m sorry” is not the same as “Please forgive me”:

  • “I’m sorry” focuses on me instead of on the person I hurt. “Will you please forgive me?” puts the focus appropriately on the injured party.
  • “I’m sorry” can be said in a vacuum and requires no response. “Will you please forgive me” and “Yes, I forgive you” are lifelines thrown across a broken relationship.
  • “I’m sorry” has become cheap. Do we really want to use the same word for everything from “sorry that I missed your phone call,” to “sorry that I can’t make the dinner engagement we had,” to “sorry that I murdered your son”?
  • “I’m sorry” may or may not acknowledge wrong-doing. I may just be sorry that you took offense at what I said or that I got caught red-handed in sin. “Please forgive me,” on the other hand, clearly acknowledges moral guilt.  
  • “I’m sorry” doesn’t necessarily require that we come down from our high-horse of pride. “Please forgive me” is by its very nature humbling: with the best kind of humility. It reinforces the fact that we are sinners, dependent on God’s grace, saved by faith, and working out our sanctification each day of our lives.


© 2009 Paula Marolewski,

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