Friday, September 9, 2011

What is on the sign you wear?

I remember a sermon one time where my pastor was talking about how he wished that our sins were written on signs that hung around our necks.  Everyone's deepest darkest secret right there, the first thing you see.

"I lie"
"I talk about people behind their back"
"I am having sex with someone I work with"
"I am addicted to porn"
"I gamble"
"I hit someone I say I love"

You get the idea.  All of the dirt that we work so hard to hide.  The secrets that we keep while we walk around acting like we are fine upstanding Christians.

Because you see, it's the Christians who would be bothered most by these signs.

Society would accept many (not all) of these sins as just our free choice.  I can do what I want, when I want, as long as I am happy.

Now, listening to that sermon, I was appalled.  I was probably about 18 years old at that time.  And let me tell you, I had PLENTY of sin that I was hiding.

But the next thing he said was something I had never considered.  The pastor continued
"If we all had signs that listed our sins, we would be so busy trying to cover up our own signs that we would be less interested in trying to read other's signs."
Intriguing thought.  But probably very true.

I don't want you to see my SIN SIGN.

However, I would be interested to know what is on yours.  Because I want to know if yours is worse than mine.  I would gauge my worth upon whether I am doing better than you with my sin list.

But man oh man, I would do everything I could to cover my own sign.

Wouldn't SIN SIGNS change our lives?

I will have you know that I did wear one.  I wore a SIN SIGN for about 6 months two years ago.

I got busted in a sin.  I was 35 years old, not married and pregnant.  Let me tell you, that SIN SIGN got bigger every single day.

I teach Sunday School at church.  I sit on community committees making significant decisions about choices that will impact my community's future.  I have been a mentor to several at-risk children.

And I was 35 years old, unmarried, recently divorced and PREGNANT with a child that people knew I was placing with another family.

It was interesting to think about how I was the one CAUGHT in my sin.  I am certain I was not the only 35 year old woman having sex outside of wedlock in my community.  Heck, I am pretty sure I am one of MANY from my very CHURCH who was having sex outside of marriage.

But I got to wear the SIGN.

And the people from my community who seemed the most appalled by my big round belly SIN SIGN were Christians.  (Thankfully not my church, or at least no one from my church ever said anything hurtful to me.)

Another interesting thing about my SIN SIGN, was that rarely did anyone ask me about it directly.

Instead of asking me about the baby, they would talk to my sisters, or my friends, or better yet, to other people who didn't even really know me.  Because let's be honest, that's some juicy stuff.

"Lisa just left her husband and I heard she is already pregnant!"

And it was true.  Most of it.  But let me tell you, there were few people who were talking about it with compassion for me.

Those who were OK with the idea that I was pregnant, were usually not OK with me placing the child.
"But you're a good mom?  Why would you do that to your baby?"
I spent 6 months of my life defending myself and my actions.  I spent 6 months of my life trying to hide my SIN SIGN.

All the while, no one else had to wear one.

What if you had to wear your SIN SIGN to the store today?  Yes, to the grocery store where you know people.

Would it change how you would behave?

Would you feel differently about yourself and those around you?

Just something to think about.


Reba said...

i really like this idea of sin signs...

i am going through some things right now...let's just say my sin sign would be very shocking to those around me.

i feel so alone, even though i am the one creating the situation. it feels like no one else in the world is going through anything like this, like i am the only "bad" person.

i have often found myself searching strangers' faces and wondering if any of them are doing anything near as bad as what i'm doing. the rest of the world seems so honest and good right's so alienating.

i'm sorry you had to wear your sign for everyone to see. :/

MariAnell said...

I remember wearing that sign. I moved away from home so I didn't have to deal with the judgment of people I knew reading that sign. That was a tough time, but I was amazed by how many people were loving and accepting of me during that difficult time. I will always be grateful for those who reached out to me in love, and I try to be one who reaches out to others now.

When I first saw the title of your post it reminded me of a link to a blog post that has been circulating a lot recently on Facebook about how would people treat us if we wore signs that list the various trials and hidden struggles we are dealing with. If you haven't seen it, I will email a link to you.

Your post and that one are both good reminders that we need to look beyond the obvious in ALL our dealings with people. I tend to try to only see the good in people, which sometimes leaves me disappointed, but I still prefer to hope for the best.

Thank you for this beautiful post. :)

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you feel the real shame is that you "had sex and got pregnant".
People do that every day. There isn't that much shame in that anymore. It's 2011 not 1957.
I think your real sign is something else entirely.
I think you know that too.

Anonymous said...

Brit's adoptive mom's sign, "I stole a baby from her mother.

*That* is a sin!

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