But you have mercy on all because you can do all things, and you overlook sins for the sake of repentance. For you love all things that are and loathe nothing that you have made; for you would not fashion what you hate. (Wisdom 11:23-24)
Early in recovery, I remember waiting patiently for the punishment I deserved for all the years I had wasted and the lies I had told. I knew God would punish me somehow and I was ready for it. I knew people I loved would reject me now that my dirty little secret was out. But things turned out differently than what I expected. People forgave me, treated me kindly, and welcomed me back. After two years of waiting, I realized God had no intention of exacting revenge and was also forgiving me, treating me kindly, and welcoming me back. I was expected to move forward, pick up the pieces and live a good life, not to suffer more calamity and misfortune in some scenario of divine revenge. (“Go and sin no more.”) That’s when I began to realize the extent of God’s love and mercy. This forgiveness, rather than giving me license to return to error, filled me with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and love. This kept me on the straight and narrow more than a sense of fear and shame ever could.
As I take another step in the desert of Lenten reflection and repentance, let me remember the love and mercy of God and live accordingly. My life is a debt of gratitude.