Today Is a New Day

1 Mar

Lately the weather has been nothing but gray, wet, and cold. So today I went tanning when I had a break between classes. I’m actually not able to get a tan (at the peak of summer my skin goes from light ivory to less-light ivory), but I like the feeling of being warm. It’s not a habit I’m particularly interested in forming though so I only go when I’m absolutely desperate to feel the warmth of a few rays of light.

As I was laying there I remembered what it’s like to actually be hot, instead of just semi-warm. I never seem to completely thaw out once winter starts and it’s been a long winter for me this year…I’ve also found that a tanning bed is a good place to think because you can’t take anything in there with you. It’s just you and the light and your thoughts.

So this is how my thought pattern went:

“It’s nice and warm in here.”

“It’s actually kind of hot.”

“My feet are STILL cold. That is so wrong. I’m sweating in here and my feet are cold.”

“I wonder if that sort of thing happens in Hell…that is assuming that Hell actually ascribes to the classic theories and really is a pit full of fire.”

“I wonder what Hell really is like…is it a pit of fire? Or is it just separation from God? I know just plain separation would be enough of a punishment for me.”

[And at this point I remembered that about five years ago (before I had any idea that God would call me into the Catholic Church) I told someone that she was going to Hell because she’s Catholic.]

“Why did I do that?”

“How could I have been so thoughtless? So unkind? So…arrogant?”

[And then I decided to lay there and practice internal-silence because I was a bit disgusted with myself.]

So now I’m sitting on my couch pondering those thoughts some more and asking Jesus why He reminded me of those words I spoke so long ago.

I know how that feels now. I know how it feels to have someone be absolutely convinced that I am going to Hell and that it is his or her responsibility to “save me.” It’s not a fun feeling. It makes me feel angry, defensive, and just plain bad.

Prior to my deciding to come into the Catholic Church I had never felt this way. I’d always been in the majority. I’d never been the one whose views were put down. Sure I got called a Bible-beater in the eighth grade, but that just made me all the more cool with my Protestant friends. I got high fives from the big group of good kids because I was standing up for Jesus, so it made the five minutes of snickering from the small group of bad kids worth it.

Now the tables are turned. There’s no majority to pat me on the back. And here is what I’ve learned:

I never ever want to tell another person that he or she is going to Hell. That doesn’t mean that I believe that you can get to Heaven without Christ, and that doesn’t mean that I believe that the Gospel is moot.

But it does mean that I want to exist to love and respect others, regardless of their beliefs. It means that I will no longer have heated discussions that involve name-calling and misplaced accusations. It means that I will find ways to show that coming to Jesus is important because Jesus is amazing, rather than trying to scare others by holding Hell over their heads.

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One Response to “Today Is a New Day”

  1. SR March 1, 2013 at 4:24 pm #

    And now you are getting it!!! Wonderful post! This dear friend, is what being Catholic is all about. All you will continue to do, is have changes such as this, one by one. Not one Catholic has ever told me I was “going to hell.” Yet, many others have. Welcome home and to our family! Love you and God Bless, SR

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