Monday, November 19, 2012

The Unforgivable Sin

According to Christian Scripture, there is one unforgivable sin. I don't know where the Catholics get their thing about suicide, but that's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the sin mentioned in Mark 3 and Matthew 12: "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit."

This isn't going to be a sermon, I promise. It's a metaphor. But give me a minute to lay the groundwork so it'll all make sense. I'm sure there are a number of ways to interpret this passage, but I heard a speaker once who explained it in a way I'll never forget. According to him, "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit" isn't me saying, "Fuck you, Holy Spirit," or "You're the devil, Holy Spirit." Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is total and absolute rejection of the Holy Spirit.

So basically, the "unforgivable sin" is choosing to not be forgiven. And God just says, "Okay, if that's what you want... fine."

I have a friend that I've known for 21 years. She's going through a bad time right now. She feels really stressed and misunderstood. She also has this one fatal flaw: she can't forgive. If you do anything to make her feel slighted or hurt in any way, that's it. Unfriended. Deleted. Gone. No second chances.

I've danced a fine tightrope for 21 years. Once when we were ten-years-old we had an argument. We were swimming in the kiddie pool in her backyard, and I was instructed by my mother not to get my towel wet. She wanted to play mermaids using her towel as a "fin" over her legs and insisted I join her. When I refused, she pulled the towel in anyway. I was so furious, I left the towel and stormed home, barefoot and in nothing but my bathing suit, down hot asphalt and crunchy gravel driveways, until I finally made it home sobbing, and by the time I burst through the door my phone was already ringing and it was her on the other end, and we were both apologizing to each other, and the whole thing was funny and ridiculous, because of course something so stupid could never keep us from being friends.

But sixteen years later, I fear something so stupid has. It's a string of small stupid things - she feels that I purposefully left her out of trips and outings, that I've grown somehow "mean" (and it's true, I'm far more blunt than I used to be), and she has mistaken my concerned consultation with a mutual friend as some kind of disloyal plotting and backstabbing. I've written lengthy letters trying to defend myself, or at the very least explain my motives. I've made apologies, imploring and groveling even when, in all honesty, I'd much rather just smack some sense into the girl, because I know her, and I know that if I don't pull out all the stops, I'll lose her.

The only unforgivable sin is choosing not to be forgiven, but that's the only option she's left me with. I want to be her friend, but if she'll never extend pardon, if she'll never try to consider things from anyone's perspective but her own, if she'll never extend the kind of friendship she expects to receive, if she insists on clinging to her personal grievances instead of trying to push beyond them to a place of healing, then all I can do is mourn and move on and live my life without her.

It's weird losing someone to something other than death.

I think no matter how legitimate your cause, allowing anything to stand in the way of the transformative power of forgiveness and love is foolish and will only bring about your own destruction. That's pretty much my entire religion in a nutshell, from Lucifer's rebellion to Adam and Eve's disobedience to Christ's death and resurrection and return...

God could force us to obey him, but because he loves us he gives us the freedom to push him away. I want to shake sense into this girl, make her keep being my friend, make her somehow go back to the way we once were, but if this is what she's chosen, I have to respect that.

I have to allow her the freedom to choose her own destruction.


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