In many religions when you sin you’ve committed an unpardonable act. In fact, when you sin, you must repent in some way and ask forgiveness or suffer eternal damnation. This is usually frightening enough to force us into submission and into doing the “right” thing according to . . . whom?
Instead of this accepted definition of what it means to sin, look at the ancient Greek origins. In that translation, “sin” means to “miss the mark” and relates to the practice of archery. You string your bow, aim your arrow, and shoot. If you miss the bull’s eye, the mark, you’ve sinned. Your life is not over. You’re not struck by lightning where you stand. You don’t suffer from unbearable guilt. Instead, you string another arrow, take aim, and shoot again. The game goes on. So it is in your life.
The practice of archery is a metaphor for your life. The game is to aim for the bull’s eye and hit it. The bull’s eye is a metaphor for the fullest expression of your deepest and truest humanity. Your “job” is to continue aiming at the target until you hit that bull’s eye.
I first read “sin boldly” in the book, A Deep Breath of Life, by Alan Cohen. It was on a bumper sticker of a friend of his. Reading this particular passage struck a chord in me and reminded me of a past learning – that “to sin” means “to miss the mark”.
One of the reasons these two words hit me so strongly is because I lived so much of my life under the mistaken belief that what others think and feel is more important than my own thoughts and feelings. Based on working with clients, I know I’m not alone in this. Maybe you, too, have let your own deep desires lay dormant because somebody else said you shouldn’t pursue them.
If this is the case for you, you’re losing boldly instead of sinning boldly (and probably not winning at all). You’re at choice, though. It’s never too late to learn how to play this game of archery, of life.
We aren’t really in an archery match, though. This is your life. So how do you make this work for you? Easy. Take extreme actions. Extreme in that your actions are not those prescribed by anyone but you. Let people call you crazy for wanting to move to the wilds of Montana alone. Don’t listen when people ridicule you for quitting a high-paying job to start your own craft shop. Turn away from people who tell you your choices in friends are wrong.
You’re the only one who really knows what’s good for you. You’re the only one who knows your truth. To sin boldly doesn’t mean you become offensive and obnoxious. It does mean that you stand for yourself, follow your heart and don’t allow yourself to be swayed by popular opinion. Sinning boldly for you will likely be totally different than it is for someone else.
What’s the dream you buried long ago? What have you forgotten? When was it you decided “they” were right and you were wrong? Take yourself back to that time for a moment: Back to the time when you had a dream and dared to believe in it. What was different about you then? What did you lose along the way to where you are now?
Sin boldly! Put yourself back in that time and remember exactly how you felt: your passions, your drive, your desire. Feel it as if it were today. Reconnect with your forgotten wisdom. Open the doors you locked long ago. Step inside yourself and rediscover your dreams.
Sin boldly! Bring your forgotten self into your present and let that person free. Let go of the fears you’ve taken on about success and failure, abandonment and security, heaven and hell, love and rejection. Decide, instead, you have what you need to reach the fullest expression of your deepest and truest humanity. String your bow, pull back with your arrow, and let it fly. No matter how far the bull’s eye may seem, shoot your arrow and shoot it often. When you miss, take aim with a new arrow. Remove yourself from the influence of people who say you can’t or shouldn’t. You can and you must.
Sin boldly! Step into the unknown. Take chances. Think possibility. Dream big. Shoot often. Live fully. Trust yourself. Have confidence. Ignore the masses. Love deeply. Share your essence. Believe and act.
If you never shoot an arrow, you’ll never hit the mark – you won’t even be sinning. You’ll be going through the motions of living. Imagine, instead, your life when you shoot arrows until you hit the mark. . . . and once having hit the mark, you adjust your sights on a new target moving to grander dreams and loftier heights. What’s possible for you if you dare to sin boldly?