The Sin We Keep on the Shelf

While her husband sleeps, a woman still upset from their recent argument slowly walks over to her literature books. She picks up a collection of poems, but turns to the first page–a blank page with a note scrawled on it.

The gist of the note: I hope that you will one day read this note and think of me.

The next scene shows the woman on a train dressed in her best and no doubt anticipating a reunion with her former lover.

This scene takes place in the movie The Namesake. Not only does this speak powerfully to love, lust, and long-term commitment, but it also speaks to sin in general and how it pulls us back in.

Is it too simple and overdone to compare sin to pulling a weed, but not tearing out the roots? Perhaps, but let’s add another element to this idea of weeding. What if we were pulling weeds, but we didn’t want to remove them completely? What if we wanted to remove sin from the surface of our lives, but did not want it completely gone? What if we believe we are unable to remove the sin?

And here we have the dilemma of sin and obedience. There are parts of our lives, secret sins, and other harmful weeds embedded deep into our lives that we pretend to not want, but in reality cultivate in secret. We want others to see our lives of obedience, and we even desire to live in obedience, but unfortunately we can’t rip the last bits of sin out, we feel unable to fight it off, and sometimes we even want to keep the sin in place.

That is what happened with this woman who pulled her book from the shelf. She was married. She should have rid herself of that book with the note from the old lover, but for whatever reason, she still kept it. Perhaps she needed options, an easy out into familiar arms. Perhaps she didn’t believe she could ever remain faithful to her husband.

This is the test we face in our relationship with God. Do we believe in the power of the Resurrection? Do we believe God’s Spirit is greater than our desires, our inclinations to go our own way? It’s a daily struggle that only grows in difficulty as we move away from God, as we neglect our relationship with God. Other options emerge, especially the ones we’ve secretly kept on the shelf.