Sin And Addiction

The process of overcoming an addiction is almost often a long and difficult one. Small victories are hard-won and relapses are frequent. Long-term success is often found in the company of and with the support of other recovering addicts. It’s a journey that is best made when shared with others who are familiar with our temptations and who’ve walked the same road before us. When you think about it, we Christians walk a similar path with one another. We sin—that’s our “addiction.” We gather in community to worship the Lord and to walk together with Him. Sometimes we mess up and when we do we ask His forgiveness and that of our neighbors. And we begin our journey anew. In the twelve-step community, there’s a poem by Portia Nelson that’s sometimes used to illustrate the journey of recovery. 

“I walk down the street. 

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. 

I fall in. 

I’m lost…I’m helpless. 

It isn’t my fault. 

It takes forever to find my way out.”

For Christians, this is the time in our lives when we begin our walk of faith. Sin seems unavoidable. Often we don’t recognize our actions as sinful, or if we do we don’t want to call it by its real name. When we deny our sin, we give it a power over us that it doesn’t merit. We haven’t yet learned to keep our eyes fixed on Christ and our hearts hidden in His heart. We depend on ourselves instead and we often feel lost and alone. Our sins overwhelm us and we wallow in doubt and self-pity. We find it hard to believe that God could love us and forgive us.

“I walk down the same street. 

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. 

I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. 

I can’t believe I’m in the same place. 

But it isn’t my fault. 

It still takes a long time to get out.”

Now I’m getting a little better at recognizing and owning my sins. Sometimes I see them as the ugly things they are. I’m beginning to realize how my sins—even the “little” ones—hurt the Lord and my neighbors. I still blame my sins on other people. I don’t go to confession, so I refuse the grace God longs to give me. Most of the time I feel angry and treated badly by the world. I’m ashamed to reach out to my friends in the Church. I lie a lot. 

“I walk down the same street. 

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. 

I still fall in…it’s a habit. 

My eyes are open. I know where I am.

I get out immediately.”

I’m still learning my way as a Christian and I still sin a lot. But more and more I rely on Jesus. I’m less easily led into sin by people or circumstances. I go to Mass and confession. The grace of God’s Sacraments strengthens me. My brothers and sisters in Christ help me and I rely on their prayers. When I sin, I own it. I’m still weak and my faith often fails me. But I know Who is my life and my salvation. I pray frequently and read the Gospel every day. I know Jesus loves me. 

“I walk down the same street. 

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. 

I walk around it.”

My life is prayer-centered. By spending time in devotion to my Lord, we have come to know one another deeply. I go to Mass each Sunday and worship God with my faith family. My Christian life is enriched by serving others in my parish and in my community. Bringing Christ to others is the joy of my life and most of the time I’m at peace. I avoid those people and situations which might be an occasion of sin for me. When the storms of life arise, I cling fast to the Master’s hand. I’m far from perfect, but I know Who is. When I sin, I run to my Father and tell Him all about it. He forgives me and holds me close to His Sacred Heart. 

“I walk down another street.”  

For Christians, this last verse represents a life of extraordinary grace and heroic virtue. It is the Saints Road. Saints are people just like you and me. They have their virtues and their sins; their triumphs and their failures. But they never let anything or anyone come between them and Jesus Christ. They each found their own unique way to remain always in the light of God’s grace. Their lives can be our inspiration and guide to our heavenly home—where the street are paved with gold and there are no potholes. And every street leads to the Throne of the Lamb. 


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. David Frederick Baldner
    Aug 05, 2015 @ 16:18:12

    Judy, I remember the first time I heard that Nelson piece – at a men’s conference – and it brought me to tears, because of how much I could relate to the draw, allure, and consequences of my sin. Thank you for the reminder!

    ~~Longing to be on Golden Avenue bowing to the Lamb on His throne – God be praised!


    • tiberjudy
      Aug 05, 2015 @ 16:49:18

      What a lovely memory. God’s mercy so often brings me to tears too. Thank you for sharing this. Praying for those golden streets where all our tears are gone! Bless you always.


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