I don’t know about you, but I’ve done terrible things I thought I’d never do.

Something precious breaks when you publicly confess a sin.  Most of us have felt it.  There’s a moment when you realize that everyone, or even just one very important someone, is suddenly looking at you like you’re someone they don’t recognize.  You have done something they thought you’d never do – you are, in their perception, permanently not the you that was before the undoable evil, the unexpected betrayal, the irrevocable tragedy.  A necessary consequence, the breaking, but a painful one.  In their eyes, you are no longer the same.  You’ll never be the same.

But you feel the same.

Every bit of who you were the day before you committed your regrettable sin is still humming inside of you.  Every dream, every hope or desire, every positive trait or flaw or scar or talent you’ve ever had is unaltered underneath your newly unrecognizable facade.  It’s like going into hiding – suddenly, if your oops is big enough, your whole identity is reduced to a single word: Liar.  Thief.  Adulterer.  Cheater.  Murderer.  Divorcee.  Gossip.  Failure.  You look around you and see your new title reflecting off the glassy surfaces of eyes that trusted you yesterday, that knew yesterday that you love bubble tea and you sometimes wake up at 2:30 am for no reason, but now see only how badly you’ve hurt them, how disappointing you are.  You feel unforgivable.

But, also, you feel- well, you feel the same.

You feel guilty, and broken, and embarrassed, and sorry, and defensive, and horrible, but you feel the same.  You feel like you.  And you mourn, because in that moment it feels like this failure will become the defining piece of your resume.  It feels like all the things you were, you are, will never matter again.  It feels like you’ve disappeared.  It feels like you’ve broken everyone who trusted you and that no one will ever see through that brokenness and notice that you still believe what you believed yesterday, that you still think there’s a right and a wrong, that you still desperately want to be better than you are.

Eventually, folks come around.  Eventually, with enough repentance and grace, trust is relearned.  Some bridges are ashes, but some relationships will be restored.  Like a tornado, like a hurricane, like a war, sin ravages the landscape of your life, but by grace you rebuild.  Consequences are brutal, but you take them, because you need them to grow.

And sometimes, someone extraordinary stands with you in the rubble.  They hold your hand and they whisper in your ear, “I know you’re still in there.  I am so mad at you today, but I know who you are.  I see you.  I see you and I know that you are the same.  That you are loved.  That you are loved as much today as you were yesterday when nobody knew the depth of your sin.  You are loved just the same.  You aren’t worthy, but you were never worthy.  You are the same.  You are loved just the same.”

Sometimes that person is human.  Sometimes it’s just you and God and the mess you’ve made.  Either way, you’re never alone.

It’s a tricky thing to ask of the hurting, to forgive.  An impossible thing, really, and one that requires a supernatural amount of strength.  It’s an impossible calling to recognize a child of God in our most formidable enemies.  Sometimes the layers of evil are so dense, so impenetrable, so ugly that it’s difficult to justify any allowance of grace.  I know not everyone is repentant.  I know sin is stubborn and tricky and terrible and raw.  But my heart is pulled now as it wasn’t before.  My heart is suspicious that perhaps we are called to practice radical grace.  Radical redemption.  Radical love.  Love so radical it heals some and offends others.  I wish I knew how.

It has been years since I’ve stood knee deep in ruin.  There are the usual daily smatterings of small failures, but it has been years since I’ve ripped the roofs off of everything I’ve built.  I remember always the gift of a hand in mine, in fields of silence and destruction and disappointment, and the brave, holy, unconditional, awesome still small voices:

You are still you.  I see you.  You are the loved just the same.

To those of you in the rubble today, those who have ruined everything, those who feel unredeemable:

Somewhere in there, you are still you.  He sees you.  You are loved just the same.


  • Will May 25, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Karyn, I loved this. Thank you.
    p.s. – all your writing is so good!

    • girlofcardigan May 25, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      Aw, Will… perfectly timed comment, my friend. I needed encouragement just this second. Thank you. 🙂

  • knittyness May 25, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    I have felt exactly this. Yet, I am beyond excuses for myself. I am who I am because of what I’ve done and who is in my life. I <3 you.

    • girlofcardigan May 25, 2011 at 3:58 pm

      I heart you back, lovely. We need to figure out how to be in the same space sometime soon. 🙂

  • Sharilyn May 25, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Beautiful love!

    • girlofcardigan May 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      Thank you, beautiful girl. 🙂

  • Franci Carter May 25, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks for this Karyn… I’ve been following your blog for awhile now, and I admire your bravery and depth, but also your talent and creativity. Keep it up;)!

    • girlofcardigan May 25, 2011 at 3:57 pm

      Franci, you are lovely. Thank you for reading, and thank you for the encouragement… I needed it today! I hope we get to do dinner soon. 🙂

  • Jennifer May 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Seriously, this is the most beautiful writing I have come across in a long time. I love how you write. You speak such truth with such wisdom. Thanks for sharing today, Karen. Yes, you are loved just as you are!

    • girlofcardigan May 25, 2011 at 3:56 pm

      Thanks so much, lovely. This post was close to my heart… these comments are making me cry like you wouldn’t believe. 🙂 Thank you.

  • shannon May 25, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    This. Is absolutely perfect. I teared up reading just as I did when we talked about it yesterday. You have a way with words that just cozies right up to those feelings that I can’t even name and gives them shape and form.
    I hope we all gain some perspective and lessons in grace, restoration and redemption from your beautiful words.

    “People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed, never thow out anyone.” -Audrey Hepburn

    • Samantha February 1, 2014 at 12:17 am

      Your response here is absolutely perfect. Audrey Hepburn was a kind and beautiful soul, as Karyn is. I feel so inspired and uplifted every time I visit this site. It reminds me that people are just people and we all feel and love and that it is ok to be happy with yourself and that it is also ok to be sad, mad, frustrated etc. etc. etc. I too, have been forgiven and lifted from the ground when I was unforgivable, and as Kyle says, undeserving. I wouldn’t be here today if it were not for the people in my life who love me, because of who they see inside.

      Thank you for this post!!

  • Kyle June 12, 2011 at 9:52 am

    This is fantastic. I would add that sometimes, completely undeserved, when the dust settles and you’re standing in the rubble with eyes closed afraid of the loneliness you anticipate, you find yourself surrounded by near strangers all desiring to welcome you as a part of this thing called “community.” Not only is there just one individual holding your hand through the rebuilding, there are a group of people ready to lift you up out of the rubble and carry you to safety.
    Thank you for this post.

  • Amy June 12, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Beautiful. Thank you, Shannon, for sharing this. You have an amazing friend indeed, in Karyn. (and, of course, in our Savior, whom we serve & loves us no matter what). Blessings to you, Karyn.

  • Liesl August 16, 2011 at 1:14 am

    I’m sure this encouraged so many more than you’ll know, Karyn. I know I’m one of them. 🙂