Soiled and Stained  

 

So you say you are soiled and stained? Many a lonely rider seeking to end his life has come to this dark fork in the road because he does not feel worthy of living anymore. He feels he has lost that which makes life worth living, shamed himself, disgraced himself, lowered himself in the eyes of people he cares about or who he at least wants to tolerate him, hurt others he did not want to hurt. And so he wants to get away from the mess, punish himself, or escape the eyes of those he has let down, or thinks he has let down.

But would it make a difference, if I told you that every one of us is soiled and stained? That every one of us is flawed, imperfect, sometimes covered with dirt? Death isnít the answer to that, my friend. Life is. Renewing life, and what life could be. And sometimes, falling is but a way of rising. Before you throw a ball up into the air, donít you have to lower your arm, in order to give more upwards force to the ball? Or in the case of a bow - does not one pull back on the bowstring, in order to give more forward power to the arrow, in flight?

Of course, my friend, I am not praising the fall. But I am letting you know that sometimes the fall, by hurting you so deeply with what you do not want to be, and wish you had never done, gives you more power to be the person you want to be. Malcolm X was a con man and a thief, but he became a preacher and a man of principle. Ashoka, a ruler of the Maurya Empire in India, was a fearsome warrior whose armies conquered new lands, and may have slaughtered as many as 100,000 prisoners in cold blood. But stunned by the tragedy that had come from his own hands, he converted to Buddhism, became a man of peace, and was thereafter noted for extensive and compassionate efforts to insure justice, fairness, and aid to all within his lands. Dannion Brinkley, the famous New Age author of Saved By The Light, was a school-yard bully and part of a special hit team utilized to assassinate foreign personnel during the Vietnam War. Now, he is spreading a spiritual message of life and hope to all he meets.

Soiled and stained doesnít mean " itís all over." It could mean a new beginning, if you let it.

Painful, to stay and catch the flak? Sometimes. But, then, are you running from what you did, that which "soiled" you, or just from the pain? If it is only from the pain, then think of how much pain people have endured to bring beautiful things into the world. Think of Mandela, who endured 27 years in prison, to free his country. Think of the Native American people who endured the torture of the Sun Dance, to bring life and divine abundance to their people. If you resolve to use what disgusts you about yourself, what makes you dislike yourself enough to consider killing yourself, as a platform for becoming a better person, then isnít that goal you have just set worth enduring pain for? Isnít it worth walking over the hot coals of otherís anger, disappointment, and scorn, if they have "found you out" and are about to "come down on you", in order to reach that new state? Certainly, it is the courageous thing to do.

Remember, in The Bible, how Jesus comes upon the outraged crowd about to stone a woman who was caught in the act of adultery, whereupon Jesus tells them: "He that is without sin among you, let him cast a stone at her." (John 8:3-11.) I repeat, that all of us have soiled ourselves at some time, fallen. Even those whose disappointment and rage you fear, the ones you cannot endure to be ashamed in front of. They, too, have had their hidden days of shame, and carry the secrets of falls within them, though you may see them now as faultless, perfect beings who you can never live up to. As Jesus forgave the adulteress, forgive yourself, my friend, be merciful to yourself, and use today as the first step in beginning to construct a new life.

Once, I remember, I had a brilliant friend who told me he was once arrested by the police for getting out of his car to urinate. It was on some road, off to the side, and he really had to go, yet he felt so humiliated and so mortified, so ashamed at having to call his parents from prison to bail him out and then explain the whole situation to them, that, back at home, he set up a noose to hang himself. Thank God, he didnít go through with it! How absurd it would have been! A person of this human depth to kill himself because he took a leak on the road!

Well, I know that there are many things a lot worse than this. Worse things you may have on your mind, tonight. But many of the things that torment us are, in the Book of God, only leaks in the road. We put false eyes into the heads of others, perfect eyes which we imagine must never catch a single imperfection in us, eyes which turn normal human faults and vices into capital offenses. My friend, it is not worth dying for these faults! A false image, a mask we wear to please others and pretend we are a kind of person who has never existed on this planet, and never will, is not worth the life of a real human being! Take the pain to live, and to make your life count!

And if, my friend, your fall was really bad, far more than that leak in the road, that discovered stash of pot, that moment of passion, that violated diary entry that blew your cover, that thing that others did to you that makes you look bad, that inadvertent act of cruelty, that dumb mistake, that petty crime, then use the power of your fall, to give power to your rising. Have the courage to get back up, and make your soul great, for while there is life, there is time, and you may yet redeem yourself.

Death stops you at who you are now.

Life gives you the opportunity to grow into the person you want to be.

 

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