The Birth of Conscience
Its so easy to forget the still small voice of conscience, the Christ Spirit that resides in each human heart and at times even harder to listen to it. For me a true spirituality comes from inside and is not an external authority. And even though it seems fragile it represents the most powerful part of our soul!
Most people awaken their conscience around the age of twelve. I was a late bloomer and it only happened after I had turned fourteen. So what is the difference? What is life like before and after the conscience awakens?
For me it meant the ability to feel bad about myself, to feel guilty about something that I had done. I was not a mean child and I didn’t have a mean bone in my body. I would never deliberately harm anyone but sometimes I did. I loved playing practical jokes and one time at the dinner table I pulled a chair out from behind one of my cousins before they sat down. They got hurt and I really felt bad.
But we were poor and I never had any money so there were times when I would shoplift small things like candy, things that I wanted and couldn’t buy. I never even thought about it and I never got caught. I was smart and super sensitive so I instinctively knew how to keep out of trouble and not get caught. I started hanging out with a rougher crowd.
Then it came time for confirmation classes. I already knew the bible stories by heart because those were the Christmas presents that my grandma and grandpa always sent us kids and I was an avid reader. I would read anything. So the stories didn’t mean anything to me and they were boring. Most of the other kids were struggling with them though as they had never heard them.
There was a goodwill offering box near the front door of the church and before confirmation class I would steal some money out of it, go to the store and buy some candy that I would eat while I was in the class. I didn’t think anything of it.
But gradually I began to not like who I was becoming. It began to seem like there was two people in side of me, one that I liked and one that I didn’t. Somehow confirmation class brought this out in me. I began to realize that it didn’t matter if God could forgive me if I couldn’t forgive myself. This split grew and grew until it became a spiritual crisis and I couldn’t stand it any more. I broke down and prayed to God to forgive me and swore that I would never go against my conscience again.
Today, at the age of sixty four I can say that I kept my vow to the best of my ability all these years. My conscience is clean (except for a few small things that I would prefer keeping to myself but would own up to if needed). I have regrets and there are things that I wish I had not done but when I did them I believed they were the right choices and things to do. What I mean is that I did not deliberately go against that still small voice of my conscience.
And so with this religious conversion I embraced the faith of my family and made it my own.