Sobbing and praying, I confessed by name, friends from primary school to university who have hurt me or whom I have treated unfairly. Looks like I feared in vain that preparation for Christianity Explored might turn out a mechanical process. The gospel still has such a penetrating impact on my life.
Just at the time when I was contemplating the death of Jesus, I was also searching for the meaning of relationships. My memories of friendships seem to be marked with failures. That crippling sense of shame and guilt is always tapping me on the shoulder, as if to say, “Excuse me, have you forgotten? You are not good at this, and you never will be.”
It’s unbelievable how long I have carried this burden myself, walking in its shadow, always quick to retreat from God’s grace, not allowing him to forgive me and redeem my relationships. Can old debts be settled? Can innocence be restored?
What is true is that I have always lived to please myself. I want relationships to satisfy my desires, friends to meet my needs, fun to fill my life with pleasure. But God wants us to be sanctified in our relationships, he meant for us to grow more Christ-like through serving one another.
I know I was woefully wrong, but how I make a turn-about? In my message, I said: “We are all kidnapped by sin, we are all enemies of God, we are all hopelessly stuck in the quicksand. And Jesus is the only one who can save us because he is perfectly sinless yet he paid the price for our freedom by dying in our place.”
Jesus’ death for me gave me the courage to confess all my wrongdoing and failures. He made it clear by dying to buy my pardon that he does not condemn me, and he even promises to make good all my relationships. So here I am, 26 years old, and still feeling as awkward as a kindergartener in a new playground, having a go at friendships once again.