By Stephen Doherty
December 19th, 2021
“No man can walk so long in the Shadow
that he cannot come again to the Light.” -Robert Jordan
Christmas is always a reminder that salvation and redemption are always close at hand for those who choose to grasp it. Few (if any) of us have lived lives of perfection and it’s so important for those who fall to realize that it’s merely an opportunity to rise again with greater mission and purpose. Life’s most enduring lessons are – by and large – its toughest and most challenging ones.
The occasional arrival of strife and hardship should never be celebrated, but neither should it be feared. It’s not just an opportunity to confront – it’s an opportunity to overcome and grow. And while there may be peripheral beneficiaries to your path of redemption, make no mistake about it – the journey is yours and yours alone. We enter the world alone and we will exit it alone. The act of redemption may impact many people in your life, but its pursuit is a highly personal act of vigilance and commitment.
With few exceptions, (acts of God) most of the times in our lives requiring a redemptive mission, are self-inflicted. I believe that most of us, during our lives, will experience their actions set adrift from their moral compass. The reasons for this are unimportant and run the gamut but the outcomes are rarely anything less than a predictable and inevitable collision with reality.
You cannot serve two masters and the farther your actions drift from your own moral compass – the greater the ultimate carnage to yourself and those around you. Much like an out-of-control car, velocity and speed matter and they create degrees of destruction upon impact. The distance adrift from your own values and convictions generate a similar momentum.
Redemption is the hard work of bringing back into alignment your actions with your conscience and moral convictions. It’s hard and tedious work and often requires the difficult and emotional backtracking through the wreckage of behavior unmitigated by ignored convictions and morality.
It’s hard work. It’s lonely work. It can be gut-wrenching and heart-breaking work. But it’s also the most necessary and satisfying work you will ever undertake. Life is hard on the best of days. It’s made exceedingly harder by deferring to our darker instincts. The light of redemption is the only illuminator of the path back.
The hardest step in the pursuit of redemption is self-forgiveness. People lose sight of this as they desperately seek forgiveness from the universe of their relationships. You can’t control what others do or think. The act of forgiveness is a highly personal and subjective one that is out of our control.
People will withhold forgiveness, not understanding that the act of forgiveness shines brighter on the forgiver than the forgiven. That eternal edict was driven home for all time by a man on a cross. The only meaningful forgiveness worthy of pursuit is self-forgiveness. Any additional forgiveness has already been spoken for on your behalf.
Christmas is a joyful time and a reminder of the multitude of precious things that matter. Each subsequent Christmas is layered into all that came before – creating an incredible mosaic of memories and experiences. In the quiet and the solitude that each Christmas affords us, let us not forget to be gentle with ourselves and forgiving of our own faults.
If God had enough faith in our humanity and potential to send his only son as the ultimate gesture of forgiveness and redemption – surely, we can gather the necessary strength and fortitude to forgive our own mistakes and transgressions. In the end – as it should be – our lives will be defined by what we’ve overcome – not by what we’ve accomplished.
Merry Christmas to all of you and my sincere best wishes for the brightest light in your life to be the one shining inside of you.
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because
God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” ―