“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.”
~Ecclesiastes 2:10a (NIV).
We’re so very easily guilt-racked for our infamous deeds of young. I know I did many things that left me bereft of conscience—things by some people’s standards that were perhaps light but by others’ were unconscionable—and God’s there in our minds with any sort of mercy or judgment we individually like.
What exactly does God think? What do we do with the misdeeds of the past?
One thing I’m certain of is we’ve all tasted this life of Solomon’s. We’ve all perhaps lived young and gone the way, refusing ourselves nothing our eyes (or our hearts) have seen... and some of us have ‘seen’ too much for our consciences to truly bear.
There’s left remaining a languid feeling which has struck the heart; the mind quivers.
I myself couldn’t stand this; the guilt I’d caused myself, particularly for sinning against my parents. So, I wrote a memoir of my first thirty years. In the book (which I finished in 1999) I detailed at least half a dozen things that caused me incredible guilt and shame. I printed it—yes, just one copy was required—and I gave it wincingly to my parents to read.
Their grace was consistent with their love—mirroring the grace of God. It oiled our discussion. I felt relieved that all of my skeletons were finally out of the closet. And, yet, I’m no Robinson Crusoe.
We’ve All Been There – Almost To a Person
That all people have ‘tasted’ life at youth is normal. To have not tasted it like Solomon has is to have perhaps repressed the urge of youth, though some are blessed with an inordinate wisdom to never need to risk life and limb in their youthful pursuits.
And, still, others have learned best from their mistakes.
Solomon contended that his pursuit of pleasure led him to learn nothing more than pleasures themselves—life’s pursuit of same—are meaningless. Pleasure is fine, perhaps as a by-product of life, but not as a goal in and of itself.
Reconciling These ‘Pleasures’
Pleasures for the reasons of pursuit in their own right have left us reeling with guilt.
However, if we were to see that they are a normal part of the maturation process—considering men do not mature mentally until they’re into their late twenties and women certainly their early twenties—we’d feel less guilty and understand this phase was essentially normal.
Our maturation, then, has perhaps accorded us the moral responsibility of doing something to alleviate the shame and guilt if we do feel that way.
If we have this opportunity we grasp it in courage and with both hands.
And we’re blessed to do just this.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.