Some people never can quite believe they are wrong. Others never seem to outrun the feeling that they are failures. The former group will profit little from what follows. For the latter, these thoughts (inspired partly by the tail-end of Paul's letter to the Ephesians) may provide some courage.
When the hero of a manly movie collapses, broken like James Bond in Casino Royale, we don't sneer at his weakness. When he staggers, bloodied and exhausted like Rocky, we don't shake our heads over his poor fighting skills.
Because we know his opponent is real, is strong, and that this battle will test his strength and sinew to the very limit.
The machinations of SPECTRE are legion. That jab of Apollo Creed's would stop a plough horse. The wound Maximus carries under his armor is costing him a lot of blood. No wonder his shield slips.
No wonder some punches get through.
No wonder Bond ends up in a hospital bed.
We don't mock when they stagger on, punch drunk, stitching the scraps of their dignity together with righteous fury. We honor these bloodied heroes; fiction though they are, we aspire to their strength.
But we treat ourselves differently, don't we?
Even we followers of The Way, we who should know better, we forget there is an enemy. We forget that our Master has warned us about the attack, visible and invisible, on our hearts, our lives.
We reach the end of a day exhausted, the evidence of our failures swelling shut our eyes, the blood from a thousand little cuts pooling in our shoes, and what do we tell ourselves? Are we thankful to be on our feet when the bell sounds? Do we repent our sins and congratulate ourselves on surviving another day against the machinations of hell?
Or do we take on the guilt of every bruise, every failure, as if we had conspired to inflict them ourselves?
Yes, we are flawed, we are fools who harm ourselves and others. But we are not the masterminds of our pain. We, the redeemed, are heralds of a Coming Kingdom; we are part of the cure, not the disease.
It's time we understood our situation. It's time we discarded our shame at being bloodied heroes.