Tag Archives: forgiveness

Pride Comes Before a Fall

Credit: David Lazar

The title of this post is a common saying. It’s so common that a lot of people don’t know that it’s from the Bible (Proverbs 16:18). For instance, this online dictionary doesn’t mention any biblical source: It’s merely referred to as an idiom in the English language.

All of the verses in the Book of Proverbs are awesome, and we need to apply them to our lives. However, verse 18 of chapter 16 (“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall”) is one that I consider extremely important — a key in maintaining my faith and humility in order to stay close to God.

A minister at a certain Protestant-based church that I used to attend taught me the acronym KISS. No, the minister wasn’t a fan of the rock group of the same name (at least not that I knew of). It stands for “keep it simple, stupid.” Now, stupid isn’t a very polite word. We don’t let our kids say it. However, I’ve heard variations of it at work and even in my parish such as “keep it simple, silly” or “keep it short and simple.” (The latter sort of adds more meaning to it, so I don’t particularly like that one. But if you do, then that’s totally cool.)

I’m mentioning all this because “pride comes before a fall” is one of those wise sayings in the Bible that is in line with the KISS philosophy. And, wouldn’t you know it, those are the things that I tend to forget all about when push comes to shove in my spiritual life.

I’ve been doing well (i.e. abstaining from mortal sin, praying, going to Mass every Sunday, et cetera). So well that I actually thought that I was invincible against certain types of sin: lust, anger, and gossip to name a few.

I was under an illusion. The Evil One is always at work, scheming up ways to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). Spiritual warfare rages on every day, every hour, every minute. Angels and demons are going head-to-head right now all around me as I type (and all around you as you’re reading). This Present Darkness is a good book that illustrates this biblical concept.

I’ve finished the first week of the fall semester at my job, and, while it was hectic, things went fairly well. I didn’t realize that my prayer time was going downhill. I had been praying a little less than usual, but my heart wasn’t in it. I was still in the mindset, though, that I was winning the battle against the darkness; never mind the fact that I was becoming more susceptible to temptation and outright sin.

If you’ve kept up with my posts, you’ll know that my wife is basically a non-practicing Buddhist/Shintoist (I’ll let you think on that for a second). She’s cool with my being Catholic. The only issue that we stay away from is abortion; although we agree to disagree on this subject, it still comes up from time to time. So, like the bumper sticker says, we “coexist.”

Anyway, we were driving to the park this morning, and my wife, Ayako, was telling me about a recent situation she had with a Christian friend named Molly. They were standing near a pond, and Molly told her son to get away from the edge because she didn’t want him to fall in. Her son said, “I won’t fall in.”

Ayako tried to remember what Molly said in reply. “She said something like ‘If you’re too confident, you’ll fall in too easily’ I think.”

After a moment, I said, “Oh, you mean ‘pride comes before a fall.'”

“Yes! How did you know?”

“Because it’s from the Bible. It’s really famous.” I changed the subject to something else, quickly forgetting about that verse from Proverbs.

Little did I know that God was giving me one last chance to repent before He would humble me.

Sure enough, later in the day, my house of cards collapsed. I found myself plunged into various types of sin that, just a week ago, thought that I was above and too good for.

Broken and troubled, I turned to prayer. Not the superficial kind that I had been practicing, but the real, honest, gut-check kind.

I heard God’s whisper in my heart almost immediately: Pride comes before a fall.

Boy, does it.

How could I have been so bone-headed?

Because you’re human. Now get back up and continue the race.

I felt like I had finally pulled my head out of the ground where it had been stuck for the past few weeks. What an amazing feeling.

It’s even more amazing to be reminded about God’s love for us. He was giving me signs that I thought didn’t pertain to me. He allowed me to fall in order for me to learn my lesson. When I came to my senses, God was waiting with open arms.

In the Parable of the Lost Son, Jesus tells how God will always forgive us, no matter how badly we mess up (Luke 15:11-32). After the son squanders his inheritance and reaches rock bottom, he decides to go back to his father:

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’

~t


About Catholic Confession

This is *not* a good example of confession.

I try to go to confession as often as I can.  At my parish, it’s offered only on Saturday afternoons from 4:00 to 5:00.  Having a family that doesn’t practice Catholicism with me, it’s sometimes difficult to get time away to receive the Sacrament.

My wife, a non-Christian, is very good at tolerating my faith and all of the “extra events” that go along with weekly Mass (i.e. confession, Knights of Columbus meetings, volunteer activities, etc.).  She is from a country and culture that doesn’t place much emphasis on religion or faith; it’s a very secular society that she is from.  However, I’m very thankful that my wife is so open-minded and loving.  Heck, even when I practiced Wicca, she was okay with it — as long as I didn’t do anything “weird” or “cultish.”  (Um, Topaz, dude, witchcraft IS weird.  Shut up.)

Anyway, I just came back from receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, colloquially referred to as confession.  I feel better than ever right now.  I always do after confessing all the muck and garbage that builds up inside of me.  It’s so incredible to know that my gross sins are absolved and that I am free to begin again!

But…

What happened BEFORE I went to confession is a different story.

Maybe just by reading the few paragraphs at the beginning of this post, you might think that I’m a Wonder Christian ™ who is always happy and “on fire” for Jeezus.

Ha.

Just take another look at the title of this blog.

Yep.

Now, I don’t want to blame the following on my mental illness which, by the way, includes bipolar disorder, paranoia, and social anxiety.  I am totally responsible for the following.  (Gosh, it sure helps that I’m anonymous!)

I have been taking part in some “binge and purge” type of actions.  As a male, I struggle all the time (yes, all the time) with lust and sexual temptation.  I go to confession, vow not to sin again, and then go home triumphantly.  For the next couple days, I do pretty well: When tempted to look impurely at a woman or to let myself be led to racy Internet images, I stop myself and then pat myself on the back.

It never fails, though.  After a few days of living like a monk, I get tempted beyond my own will power and give in.  Then, as I mentioned, it’s *binge and purge time*.

modern confessional

This is what the confessional at my parish looks like. No dreary dungeon atmosphere or musty smells here.

I can’t believe this happened earlier today (Actually, yes I can, because I’m a sinner.).  I had to stop by Target to get some items that my wife needed.  Mind you, I had already been indulging in lust and impurity before arriving at Target. However, Target, to me, is a palace of pleasure, a Sin City beneath the red doggy logo.

Huh? Target? The retail store?

Guys, I don’t know if you feel the same.  Ladies, I apologize if this seems sexist or offensive (which means I’m about to offend you).  But, it seems like the only people who shop at Target are the most attractive females in the most revealing outfits.

*bracing for all the hate mail*

Walking down the aisles, Satan was giving me left-right combinations to my face and chest, knocking me down and flinging me against the ropes.  My whole mindset inside Target was, “Well, I’m going to confession right after this, so I’ll take in as much flesh and voluptuous curves as I can.”

The impact of my sinful thinking didn’t really hit me until I was praying before the life-size crucifix in my parish after confession today.  It disgusted me that I was in such a pathetic state of mind, seeking out opportunities to fill my lustful heart.  I actually winced when God reminded me in prayer that I was using His gift of forgiveness as sin insurance.

No, I’m nowhere near a “Super Christian.”  Heck, I’m nowhere near a normal Christian.  I’m just a guy who, after lots and lots of studying and praying, became convinced that Christianity, more specifically Catholicism, was the Church of Christ and the way to God.

I’m not here to try to convince you (although I’m convinced) or argue with you.  I’ll leave that to the apologists.  That isn’t my bag anyway.

I’m not here to scream at you that you’re going to hell.  Only God knows the answer to that one.  (Hopefully I’m not going there by the way.)  Shoot, if I told my wife that she was currently on a one-way roller coaster ride to the Eternal Lake of Fire, I would no longer be able to urinate like a normal guy.

Anyway, I’m not a very good example of a Christian.  I (intentionally) sin.  But I always get up when I fall down — sometimes slowly, sometimes even more slowly.

God just wants you to be a person after His own heart.

~topaz