I wonder if everyone has a specific vice (as in, a tendency towards a general category of sins, vs. a specific sin itself) that proves most challenging for them, most difficult to remove, most damaging to their relationships and their own souls.
Mine would have to be wrath.
Misplaced, disproportionate, uncontrolled anger, strengthened by self-righteousness, latching onto my soul with bitterness and smoldering resentment.
The kind of flaring, volcanic passion that makes me, with all my gentle parenting ideals, wanting to slap my kid as hard as I can because he keeps laughing in my face and climbing out of bed when everyone is exhausted and needs to go to sleep.
The kind of all-consuming, fiery emotion that leaves me unable to focus, unable to work, unable to pray, unable to give back and build into the lives of others around me until I can manage to fight it off or sleep it off.
The kind of suspicious bitterness that remembers a past grievance and holds onto it forever, always expecting a repeat of the offense, never trusting completely again once the other person has made a mistake or sinned against me, withholding true forgiveness.
The kind of irrational reaction to events that responds as if every inconvenience or misunderstanding were a personal attack or insult or rejection, that makes me want to burn bridges between friends simply because of a chance word or my perception of the expression on someone’s face.
When I imagine being free of the presence and power of sin in my life, when I imagine what it would be like to be holy, the biggest change I envision is the disappearance of this dark and ugly anger, the liberation of my soul from its clutching tentacles. It was this vice that led me to pray the sinner’s prayer at 7 years old, that impelled me to more deeply fall in love with God at age 12, that continues to both be the bane of my existence and the thing that pushes me back to God asking for His mercy and forgiveness. Is there some way that these passions, in me and in others, can be redeemed and used for good? I don’t know. That kind of transformative power isn’t something I can picture right now, but maybe it is one of the incredible gifts God has in store for us. All I know is this: that my wrath is set to destroy me and everything I hold most dear, and that I need to pray, as so many have prayed before me:
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.