Lenten Meditation 2: The Lie at the Heart of Human Sinfulness

The Lie at the Heart of Human Sinfulness

The lie at the heart of human sinfulness is that we can gain control of our existence by some action of our own and that God does not want us to have this power. God creating human beings in God’s own likeness is described in the first creation account in Genesis. But instead of accepting the friendship with God that was offered, human beings chose to enter into rivalry with God. The consequences of that disastrous choice plague our world still.

Do I harbor any distrust of God over control and power in my life? Can I pray the New Testament prayer “I believe; help my unbelief”?

—William A. Barry, SJ, in Lenten Meditations:
Growing in Friendship with God

Friendship with Jesus has been central to my faith since my conversion. Perhaps because I was not raised Catholic, I haven’t had some of the same struggles with the idea of Jesus’ humanity described by those raised with more emphasis on God’s kingship. Intimacy with God has always been central to me.

However, I have a different kind of struggle, which is to surrender control to God in those areas of my life that are out of my control. In my life as a mom, teacher, wife, administrator, and household manager, I am a good at organization and balance. However, I find myself challenged when faced with events outside of my control. For example, in the aftermath of a broken friendship where my friend refused to re-engage, I found myself acting in ways that were demanding and impatient in the course of seeking reconciliation. Sometimes we have to accept loss, however difficult. Others’ responses are never in our own control.

Central to friendship with God, as with any friendship, is mutual trust. As I said recently to a companion, “I trust in God; it’s other people that can be hard to trust!” Yet trusting in God is also a matter of trusting that despite my own and others’ human limits and sin, I am gently being invited to cooperate with the God who wants to “make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). I’m learning that I have not only to offer God my own creativity and responsibility, but to make that offer freely, without trying to control God or anyone else. Not easy!

How do we do it? The old adage says, “Let go and let God.” We can offer ourselves freely to God and to others and then let go of the outcomes. For example, in service work, I cannot know whether the person whom I am serving will benefit. But I can trust that God will somehow weave my actions into a larger, meaningful pattern. Slowly I am discovering that Jesus’ story and mine are intertwined, like threads in those old friendship bracelets that we used to weave back in college. The threads of both joy and suffering are like bright threads that contribute to the pattern of our stories with God.

Subscribe to dotMagis, the blog of Ignatian SpiritualityThis is part two of a seven-part series. Join us each Wednesday for Growing in Friendship with God This Lent.

About Marina McCoy 56 Articles
Marina McCoy is an associate professor of philosophy at Boston College, where she teaches philosophy and in the BC PULSE service learning program. She is the author of Wounded Heroes: Vulnerability as a Virtue in Ancient Greek Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2013). She and her husband are the parents to two young adults and live in the Boston area.
Contact: Website

7 Comments on Lenten Meditation 2: The Lie at the Heart of Human Sinfulness

  1. I have a problem with letting go-it’s all about me. The good news is that God is not letting go of me. I continue to pray for a deeper faith, for a ways to offer all that I am and do to Him. He is my friend, anyone else would be already be gone.

  2. It has been 20 years since my husband died of an unexpected heart attack, but I’m still trying to “let go” – not only him but all the plans we had.. Each day I pray to “let go” a little of what is “my”…

  3. Like Jonah Barry & Marina remind is that God looks beyond our own best efforts and that letting go precedes letting God

  4. Same here. I often get flustered when I give advice and it turns to deaf ears and wonder why they don’t heed my true meaning good-for-you advice. But through silent prayers, I’ve learnt to give and let go. I’ve done my part, leave the rest to Him.

  5. Thank you for sharing, Professor. I have hard time trying to discern how to serve other people as a friend because my desire to communicate each other’s story and needs generally goes unreciprocated. I am discouraged by the fact that I am usually less helpful than others in people’s life.

  6. Letting go is truly a struggle. Especially for those of us in managerial work positions. I try to make a concious effort to “let go” but it is a definite challenge.

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