We spend most of our lives hiding behind our true selves.

It’s pitiful, honestly. I’m nearly 50 years old and I still spend much of my time worried about what others will think.

Does it really matter?

A few years ago, I was convinced I would die of a mysterious viral disease and was rushing off to the confessional as often as possible so my soul would be “sin-free” and ready to enter heaven right away.

I believe it was around March of 2020 that I lined up at a church downtown with the other local penitents who were convinced that “the end was near” and that we had better get ourselves to confession and fast.

“This may be the last opportunity we have to go,” I remember saying to the Deacon in line ahead of me. “The prophecies of churches being closed for three years and all of that. You know what I’m talking about.”

He nodded in agreement.

You see, I had bought into the mindset of the “saved” that hard times were a comin’ and those of us who were in a “state of grace” and living essentially sin-free had to hunker down and do emergency prep and all the things and just get ready for the end times.

I was heavy into Countdown to the Kingdom and such. Made a lot of sense to me then. Stockpile your kitchen, keep the demons away, keep your kids off social media, and just wait for the Lord to come back and you’re good.

Then my little perfect Instagram-friendly world came crumbling down and all went to hell and I’ve been thanking God ever since, because He is the God of the real and the honest and not the illusions or the fake. And he is the God of us all and not the God of only the so-called “saved” and not the others.

What should disturb us all most in current times is the notion of “others” and those who are being deemed unworthy of being saved, much like the Magdalenes and the Samaritan woman at the well and the lepers and so many others of Jesus’s time. They are still among us, and social media today seems to revel in finding new ways of demonizing them daily.

My honest question is this: why in God’s name do many in traditionalist Catholic circles focus on homosexuality and abortion as the “target sins” that are currently keeping people out of heaven?

Because I can think of about 1,657 other sins that are just as bad.

I’m pretty certain I name many of them each week when I go to confession — and I do go every week. My poor parish priest (God bless him–they change up every few years, but I’m not claiming responsibility here, although the last one said if he wasn’t listening to my sins on Saturday mornings he’d be listening to somebody else’s) has to listen to me name the same ones time after time.

Let’s see: gossip, self-righteousness, pride (in various forms), materialism, parenting fails, marital problems … the list goes on and on and on … and that doesn’t even begin to encompass sins of omission.

So again, I ask this all-important question: why are some focused only on a few seemingly unforgivable sins?

That is worth considering.

I don’t claim to have the answer, but I have a few theories. I find it’s better to let the Internet do its own positing when it comes to such matters, otherwise one spends far too much time arguing with strangers online and I have far too much to do in the real world, such as convincing my nine-year-old twins to stop smacking each other in church. We have begun sitting in the front row so I can whisper fiercely “people can see what you’re doing.” It’s not working so far, but I’m no quitter.

(But back to the focus of this article…)

As a writer who submits freelance articles regularly to editors via email with the tagline “feel free to change the title, I’m terrible at titles,” this one gives reference to an Eminem song from the year 2000 called “The Real Slim Shady.”

I think at times we forget in modern times who the Real Jesus was. And who He was not.

He was not wealthy. He was not popular. He was not understood. He was not successful, in worldly terms. He was common in every sense of the word except one: He did not sin. And therein lies the paradox of Jesus: He was like us in every way except one.

And so, it’s almost the end of the week and I need to get back to writing down my list of sins to take with me to the confessional on Saturday morning in the little tin box I keep in my purse. On the lid of that box is written: “Give it to God,” because that is exactly what we do in the Sacrament of Penance.

And so, I will keep going each week with that box and begging the Lord’s mercy and praying for my brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, we are all in this together.

Remember, if you want to be cool with the real Jesus on Judgment Day, it’s time to start owning up to those real failures. He’s got your back. But don’t waste time judging the sins of others. The last thing you want is for Him to show you the list of your own.

Image: Adobe Stock. By pronoia.

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Kristi McCabe is an award-winning freelance writer, Catechist, a former teacher and editor who lives with her family in Owensboro, Kentucky.  As an adoptive mother of four and an adoptee herself, Kristi is an avid supporter of pro-life ministries.  She is active in her local parish and has served as Eucharistic minister and in various children's ministries.

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