I used to watch a TV show called Blindspot with my husband. I liked the show, but he quickly found it ridiculous – too preposterous to waste time watching. He’s not wrong. The premise and nearly all the story lines are incredibly unrealistic. But I keep watching. And this season has been particularly moving as the main character, Jane, battles an enemy closer than any other: herself.
Jane is a “good guy” who used to be a “bad guy,” and in a recent episode, she finally began facing the horrible deeds she’d committed in her past. When her husband asked how she was holding up, she responded:
“I don’t know if I can do this. I thought I could close the door on my past, quarantine it, but I can’t. . . . I’m so tired. I’m tired of fighting, tired of trying, tired of remembering. I just want to forget.”
Later, she confessed to a counselor about how she was overwhelmed by the things she’s done: “There are so many of them, too many to atone for. I don’t even know where to begin. And when I think about it, it just completely paralyzes me.”
Fortunately, I’ve never committed murder or treason or any of the many truly horrible things this fictional character has done. I’m guessing you haven’t either.
But I still know exactly how she feels.
Recently, I’ve been reading a book with a women’s small group at my church, and it’s caused me to have a few “Jane” moments of my own. I actually selected the book for our group. It’s one that a friend wrote, one that I wanted to read but knew I’d never finish without accountability. I thought it would be an interesting read as I learned more about my writer-friend’s life and what God’s taught her. I thought I’d probably learn something, but I also may have thought that the ladies in my group would learn more than I would. I definitely didn’t think the book would wreck me.
The book is about sharing Jesus with the people in your life, and as we’ve been reading chapter after chapter, I’ve been challenged in how I view – and treat – people. I’ve been motivated to live a little differently, to listen a little more intently to what the Lord has likely been trying to tell me for a while. But more than that, reading this book has brought to mind, and heart, several times I have seriously hurt people.
I’ve remembered so many instances where, despite knowing what God’s word says about loving my neighbor, I did the exact opposite. I’ve remembered times when I wasn’t just distant or negligent, but also times when I was intentionally hurtful. I’ve remembered a whole lot of things I had previously swept under the carpet of my memory, things I’ve never reckoned with or confessed.
So while I have very little in common with Jane on the surface, I know exactly how she feels.
I know how it feels to be so convinced I was in the right or that nobody got hurt and it was fine. I think, It’s over. We all need to just get over it. I know how it feels to be so certain of those things that I completely forget about what I actually said or did.
And I know how it feels to be blindsided by a memory that I’d stuffed down so deep that part of me believes it never happened. I know how it feels to be gobsmacked by the realization that I was the one in the wrong, that what I said or did (or didn’t say or didn’t do) was a really big deal. I know how Jane feels when the pain she’d caused and the shame she now felt rush over her in waves until she can’t breathe.
Do you know how that feels?
I don’t know if I can do this.
I just want to forget.
There are too many sins to atone for.
I don’t know where to begin.
It’s true. We can’t do this. We can’t atone for all our sins. And, unfortunately, forgetting forever isn’t really an option. But unlike Jane, we are not left hopeless in the face of our reckoning and realizations. We are not left alone to try to fight and work until we collapse under the weight of our humanity. No, we are not hopeless, and we are not alone.
We have Jesus.
We have the immeasurable grace of God that offers mercy and forgiveness despite our undeniable depravity. We have the ultimate sacrifice of Christ that means atonement is attainable after all. And we have the unbeatable strength of our Lord, who promises to never leave us, even when we do unspeakable things.
We cannot bear the burden of our sins, and we cannot erase them from history or repair the damage they’ve done. But it’s okay. We were never meant to. God has given us a way to face our past, our sins, ourselves. He has given us a way to heal and to move forward. Jesus is the place we begin and the place our sins come to an end. He is the one who looks at everything we are and everything we’ve done — even and especially the parts we’ve tried to hide — and He says, “You are loved. You are forgiven. It is finished.”
If you’re breaking under the weight of your sin today,
If you’re afraid to face the reality of what has gone before,
If you don’t know how you can possibly handle this, how you can ever move on,
I pray God will open your eyes to the ultimate truth, to the gift of salvation, to the forgiveness and atonement that we all desperately need. I pray that He will hold you close and comfort you when you grieve, that He will give you strength and resilience and guidance as you move forward. I pray you will no longer feel exhausted or terrified or paralyzed, that you will accept the gift He’s offering you and walk forward with eyes open and heart full.
Because you are loved. You are forgiven. It is finished.
We are not hopeless, and we are not alone. We have Jesus. -@MaryCarver: Click To Tweet