When I get that feeling, I need, sexual healing...
What feeling? You know the one. That sudden, sickening flashback to days-gone-by where all of the sudden you're that girl or that guy again, reliving memories of frat parties and late nights out long gone... or maybe not so long gone, but for whatever reason something brings you back there, face to face with the dreaded p-word: the Past. Maybe it's a song lyric, the whiff of a stranger's vaguely familiar cologne, an old photograph...
And suddenly the past is present, and you're confronted with your "old" self, or more accurately, you're confronted with the crimes and misdemeanors committed by version 1.0 of your truly.
Here's where even we Catholics have a bit more to work out beyond the confessional, because while God's mercy is present, our receptivity to His grace and forgiveness can be seriously hindered by an entirely different sin, a lingering phenomenon that would enslave us to our past sins and shortcomings and deny the triumph of the Cross. Shame.
Shame is one of those wonderfully diabolical twists on the natural goods of contrition and modesty. Shame, whose roots are firmly planted in pride, whispers to us in our darkest moments...
You haven't changed a bit. We both know who you really are, who are you trying to fool? I see what you've done, where you've been. You deserve this; you're damaged goods.
I think that shame is an especially effective tool in the realm of sexual sin. It's really one of Satan's last stands in this area, a desperate final attempt to "reform" a repentant sinner, at least from what I recognize in my limited comprehension of Ignatian spirituality.
Think about it. You're not going back down that road, there's no way. So what is the devil left with? Shame. Our unwillingness, in our falleness, to forgive ourselves what God already has. That's the only "in" Satan has, but he'll take it, because there's no where he'd rather hit us.
There's nowhere we more perfectly image our Creator than in the life-giving sexual union between man and wife. It follows, then, that sexual sin can be such a temptation. And the fallout from this sin is so dramatic.
But it doesn't have to be. The healing that His forgiveness truly effects on us includes the sure antidote to shame: humility.
Humility in accepting His forgiveness when we'd rather dwell in self pity. Humility in recognizing our desperate need for His grace to persevere in the new life we've been given. Humility in realizing that we're not above the occasion of sin, but that He has perfect power available in our weakness.