Why “Small” Sins are So Dangerous

I am thirteen years old, sitting in a church pew with a friend and our youth pastor who has recently proposed to his girlfriend. My friend and I are gushing over the fairytale we imagine their romance to be. “Why don’t you have a ring, though?” my friend asks. I am horrified. Of course he doesn’t have a ring. That’s not how engagement works. How could she possibly ask such a silly question? What is wrong with her?

I am seventeen years old, riding in the back of a friend’s car. There are four of us together, maybe five. The details are vague now, where we are going, what we are doing, who has crushes on whom, but one feeling and one interaction are crystal clear. A friend casually, comfortably asks a question about something she does not understand, admitting her ignorance on an unimportant topic. My heart rate skyrockets. Doesn’t she know that not knowing is humiliating? Does she not feel the shift in the universe that I do when uncertainty is made public? What is wrong with her?

I am twenty-three years old, taking notes in a meeting at work. Afterwards, a co-worker comes over to my desk to talk to me about the discussion. She interprets something our boss had stated and I am shocked. I heard nothing of the sort. She turns out to be right, and I am internally knocked off-kilter. My sense of self-worth plummets; I am defensive and guarded for the rest of the day. How could I have sat in the same room and misunderstood the conversation? What is wrong with me?

It’s likely that none of these stories have led you to think, “Well, Abby, you were sinning. That’s what’s wrong with you.” After all, I was not actively intending to hurt anyone in any of these situations. In fact, in the first two, I wanted to protect my friends, or at least that’s what I told myself.

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Author: Abby Perry

Abby has written for The Gospel Coalition, Christ and Pop Culture, Upwrite Magazine, and The Influence Network. She is the communications coordinator for a nonprofit organization and co-facilitates two community efforts—one promoting bridge-building racial reconciliation conversations and one supporting area foster and adoptive families. Abby graduated from Texas A&M University and currently attends Dallas Theological Seminary. She and her family live in College Station, Texas.