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[ Personal Narratives ]

We Are Not Saints, Just Works in Progress


I have done some shocking things. Aside from murder and adultery I pretty much have worn out the other eight commandments.

It doesn’t help that I am bipolar. When manic, I tend to have a lot of wonderfully bad ideas. I am impulsive and have lots of energy. When in a manic state, I can rack up sins faster than Satan can count them.

I managed to get a couple felonies and landed in jail. I lost my sobriety after 13 years of being clean. I tried to commit suicide. I bankrupted my family—and that is just a glimpse of the big stuff from six months in my life.

My childhood consisted of daily shoplifting, vandalism, and so, so, so much more.

The list of “small stuff” is endless.

I exist in a status of needing constant redemption.

Being holy is hard work. I don’t want to to look and acknowledge my thoughts and actions to myself, because admitting them aloud is humbling. It baffles my ego.

Part of the package of being granted forgiveness is my intention to never commit the offense again. This promise to “sin no more” must be deathly sincere. That part is easy for me. I do not want to offend. I do not want to sin. I want to put my selfishness aside and give way to what is right. In my heart, in the depth of my being, I want to cease hurting God and others.

I have lost trust in myself, though.

Those closest to me have also lost trust.

I have done this to myself. Losing trust and relationships are the natural consequence of my frequent battles of breaking laws and offending people. It is deeply painful, it hurts. I think this pain is part of the purification process, of penance.

I get back to acknowledging my sins and sorrow for my thoughts and actions, asking for forgiveness, renewing my intent never to sin again, and doing penance. This is the formula for how a person returns to the state of grace, becomes holy.

My hope was as I aged I would slow down and naturally become a better person, just from lack of energy. I think the problem is that as I’ve aged I’ve become more sensitive to my actions and, if anything, my insight shows me that I have perhaps changed the types of sins I commit—but I may be sinning more. My unrelenting cycle of becoming holy, of being a saint will never get a break.

The constant effort of becoming what I am supposed to be is fierce. The actual moments when my efforts grant me sainthood and while being a saint are wonderfully peaceful though. Yet, I quickly throw them away. So quickly.

This is my life. This is the story of a momentary saint.