“I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’—
and you forgave the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32
I’ve not murdered anyone. When I was a boy, I stole cigarettes—we used to call it “hocking,” as in “let’s go hock cigarettes.” But I haven’t hocked a thing in fifty-some years.
I never committed adultery—per se. I guess I may have to confess, like Jimmy Carter, that I’ve sometimes oogled a bit too sumptuously; but I’ve have not blazed my way through some tawdry affair.
I’ve eaten too much—just two night ago, in fact. It started with the smooth guacamole. . . But that’s another story. I’m in a perpetual battle with love handles.
I love a beer now and then, but I’m light years from alcoholism. The love of money may well be the root of all evil, but greed or avarice has never been a weakness of mine. Ask my wife.
I’ve come to that point in my life where covetousness isn’t much of problem either. Here I sit in a basement office, surrounded by books I’m can’t get rid of, file drawers full of stuff I can’t toss, and a collection of flim-flam filling every shelf, every last bit of it worthless beyond anything but sweet sentimental value.
I don’t think I’m crochety, although my wife might argue. I’m not bitter. I love a good story, and I’ve become convinced that humor is, as the Readers Digest has long insisted, the very best medicine for the soul.
The 65-year path of my life—check it for yourself—contains no spectacular sin or reprehensible acts. I was in Vegas once, but I was ten.
My biography would never sell. A fourteen-year-old with an eating disorder makes a better chapel speaker than I do. There are no bank heists or car chases. Thank the Lord, there never was a Bathsheeba, nor Uriah.
For the most part, mine are sins of omission—and they are legion.
I wonder if, through my life, I worshipped the task I’m at right now, if I placed a god before me that obscured the one who forgives. I often wonder if I neglected to love my children or spouse because of my love of writing, if my profession of faith had more to do with the letters appearing on this screen than it did with the Lord God Almighty.
I wonder, as I never have before in my life, if I’ve done the best I could with what I’ve been given. I really do. When I look back, I wonder whether I did it right at all.
I don’t wonder, not really. I have no doubt that in many important ways I’ve failed.
I doubt my confession would be easier if I could point at a Bathsheeba or too much bourbon or some kind of abuse and say, “there—that’s the sin for which I need forgiveness.” I’m thankful there are no such lurid misdeeds.
But I’m old enough to know that, just like the wanton King, I can stand only if I’ve been on my knees.
For what I didn’t do, Lord—for what I didn’t do right and for my idolatry, my pride—please, forgive.