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Anguish vs Hope

Last updated on February 1, 2023

Fr Silouan quoted Saint Anthony the Great in a FB post today saying “don’t worry about your past…” then went on to say that ‘digging into our past with anguish leads to despair and away from hope.’

My ire was instantly up, defending me against the suggestion that I’m “digging” into my past often these days, but as I re-read one of my favorite of F Silouan’s compilations on sin I recalled the exact space of the anguish I’ve been confessing here (and most likely should carry to my spiritual father)… With all the decades of as-honest-as-I-can-make-it therapy and confession and journaling and prayer and “doing the work” I still couldn’t and cannot make any of those failed relationships become “right” again.

I do not have the power to re-parent myself, re-start my adulthood and re-write history with the people I’ve hurt and those who’ve hurt me.

I was powerless to do so while in these relationships. And leaving them, despite my deep conviction that this was my only, last, and best hope of doing anything remotely loving to these people, could not fix anything with or for them either.

This is where my pride is removed and failure is again the naked truth. This is where I’m reminded that I am not God. And have no power to heal myself let alone anyone else. Which leads me to remember that through His Grace I am still his child, still destined to inherit what I can’t possibly earn or deserve.

Now, my response to the “don’t worry about your past” is this; when my past IS my present, ‘not worrying’ means allowing the Light of Truth to sift it within me. Sometimes that brings more sorrow before the joy-in-the-journey appears.


Yet, I am immeasurably grateful for these reminders to stay in the center of the pathway.

“Sins are errors. The Greek word is for an arrow that misses or falls short. For our failures and errors we ask the Lord to cleanse us, blot out the record. We serve a merciful and loving Father, and not an accuser.

Transgressions, iniquities, or offenses are literally “lawlessnesses.” This is overstepping or violating commands – knowingly or not, intentionally or not. If you consciously chose an easy or pleasurable option instead of honoring the Lord’s command, how long should you wait before coming back to ask forgiveness? Don’t wait! The Lord has no ego; he is not offended, he is not surprised – he wants to apply the remedy of pardon and encouragement as soon as you stop condemning yourself. Remember the Prodigal Son: He planned to return and beg forgiveness from his father, but the Father was already running to him with forgiveness and welcome. “Master, pardon our iniquities.”

Finally, Infirmities are weaknesses and ailments of soul and body, especially ones that tend to cause you to make errors or commit transgressions. We also call these the Passions. Infirmities need healing.

By all means avoid and repent and seek healing from all the above.

But know that you have never surprised God, nor made him furious at you; the Savior has never had any plan for you but wholeness, holiness, righteousness and hope. And he has bound himself by a COVENANT to bring this to pass in you, if you’ll permit.

Evangelicalism taught me to hate and dread sins. Christ in the Gospels invites me to walk into the light with him. We could do with less of managing sins and more of walking (and even stumbling) in hope.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11)”

—From Fr Silouan’s homily a Sunday or two ago, link in comments—

I just keep reading and re-reading “but know that you have never surprised God, nor made him furious with you…”

My head knows Fr Silouan speaks truth, my heart, my body, seriously still question however.

This means. There is yet hope for me.

And you too.

Lord have mercy on us all.

-Elise Photini

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