A couple of weeks ago I was walking back to the car with Kaelyn, my 2 year-old daughter, after running some errands. As we walked Kaelyn would jump and hold her feet up as I held her up so she could glide over the sidewalk. She did this repeatedly and found so much joy from this experience. Kaelyn had no concerns about me dropping her because she knew that her daddy would never let her go. She trusted me completely. If by some chance she would have fell, she wouldn’t have run away from me but rather would have run towards me. She would have run to me because she knows that daddy can make it all better and running away wouldn’t make any sense to her.
However, when we fall (or sin) we choose to run away from God, from others, from ourselves. We run because we think to ourselves, “I can’t believe that I did that” or “How can anyone love me after this?” This deep feeling of letting ourselves, others, or God down is shame. Shame permeates deep into our core identity and creates deep feelings of being unlovable. Shame keeps us alienated from all because the very place we need to feel love and acceptance is the very place we will not allow others or God into because we fear rejection. Shame keeps us from love and from God.
In 2 Corinthians 7:10 it says that, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” If the sorrow we feel is one that brings us back to God and to others then it is good but if the sorrow we feel pulls us farther from God and from others then that is spiritual death. St. Ignatius referred to this as consolation and desolation. Consolation is anything that draws us to God and desolation is anything that does the opposite.
What should we do when we fall? We should do what Kaelyn does time and again, she runs to her parents for healing and comfort. I suggest that you should run to God because God will never reject you and always love you and make everything better because God knows what to do (See Jeremiah 15:19, Psalm 51:16-17, and Isaiah 44:21-22).
You see in Romans 8:31-39, Paul expresses that nothing will ever separate you from God. Not death or life, not demons or angels, not any height or depth. God will always love you. It’s the type of love that you can never get rid of. No matter how much you try God will always love you and run after you just like I would have if either of my children were hurting and didn’t come to me. So despite how you feel about yourself or how unworthy of love you feel know that God loves you deeply. All you have to do is run to Him, hold onto his hand tightly, and never let go. And know that these times of holding you tightly are the most intimate of moments between a parent and their child. You are a child of God and you will never be anything less.
Mark Bruner has been a guest campus minister at Xavier University with a parachurch ministry called the Navigators for almost 9 years. He has been married to his wife for 8 years and they have two children, Kaelyn who is 2 years old and Ethan who is 5 years old. They live in Norwood and feel privileged to be at Xavier.