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Remember those times when you were a kid that you got into a heap of trouble? That barely ever happened to me. I was the ideal child growing up: obedient, quiet, loving, hard-working – I can go on and on with my amazing traits. Don’t listen to my siblings if they tell you I was a whiny, booger-flicking, spoiled brat because that is absolutely, completely, and totally almost untrue. However, there was a decent amount of time in grade three when I didn’t do my homework. I got separate warnings from my teacher and my parents, but I still kept not doing it. Finally, my parents actually met with my teacher to talk about it as I sat nearby, mortified. I had a whole arsenal of excuses going through my eight-year-old mind: I keep forgetting! or It’s too hard! or I had music practice! or Julie and Bobby don’t do theirs, either! I don’t need to prove to you that making excuses isn’t a good thing…especially when it comes to sin. Up until a few years ago, I’d never really considered the reality of hell. In my mind, I’ve been a good person. If I faced God after death and He asked me why I told those lies, missed those Sunday masses, disobeyed my parents, gossiped, etc, I would counteract by telling Him that I went to Sunday mass most of the time, prayed sometimes, and never killed anyone. I would compare myself to my friends and tell Him why I’m so much better because I’d never done some of the sinful things they had done. I would probably even add – proudly – that I got involved with the parish youth group to grow in my faith and volunteered at a soup kitchen a couple times. I gave a few dollars to some homeless guy and was about to climb a tree and save a cat once but then…didn’t (hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?). However, in my third year of university, a CCO staff member asked me, “What does it mean when we say, ‘Jesus, I trust in You’?”. The statement wasn’t foreign to me; I had seen it at the bottom of a well-known picture of Jesus and had definitely said it in prayer, also. But for some reason, my mind was pretty much blank! I couldn’t answer her. CCO had flushed my ‘I’m-a-cradle-Catholic-so-you-can’t-tell-me-anything-I-haven’t-heard-before’ attitude down the toilet.   She replied, “When we say ‘Jesus, I trust in You,’ we are basically saying, ‘Jesus, You are the bridge that allows me to come to the Father despite my sins, and that You will never fail me if I try to cross that bridge. Jesus, I trust in Your mercy.’” Something clicked. So wait, I had to trust in Jesus to get me into heaven? No matter how good of a person I was, it would never be enough to overcome the separation that my sin created between God and I? No matter how many cats I almost saved or Bible studies I led, it wasn’t enough to get me into heaven? Oh, snap. The reality is that none of us should be heaven-bound. We are all guilty of sin and have thus been majorly separated from God. But He doesn’t want us to be far from Him so He Himself willingly paid the price for us. I would never be able to get to heaven without the sacrifice of Christ. Although a practicing Catholic my whole life, I never fully understood the Crucifixion until that moment. Jesus had died to save me. And I totally wasn’t worthy of that. My original “spiritual resume” mindset, where I would try to bargain with God for my salvation, made me feel really guilty anytime I fell short. But this guilt didn’t make me try to be better, it simply prompted me to make excuses instead. But ever since I recognized my need for Jesus, I’ve also recognized His infinite mercy, knowing that whenever I approach Him with humility and repentance, He will always forgive me no matter what I’ve done or failed to do. This has inspired me to be the best person I can be for Him, and has brought me a lot of joy and freedom! His suffering and death has given us a choice. Though we’re failures, we can choose His mercy. We can choose to depend on Him to get to heaven.

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