I need it. You do, too. And so does everybody else.
I was reminded of this recently while watching Tiger Woods apologize for his unfaithfulness to his wife. His recent fall is certainly tragic, but I found his apology to be particularly heartbreaking, not so much for what he said, but for what he did not say. He did own up to his mistakes; he did take responsibility for his actions. He very clearly recognized that his choices had hurt others, showing a thoughtfulness and concern for others that seemed sincere. He apologized. He said, "I'm sorry." But he did not ask for forgiveness.
By omitting this request, Woods gives us a peak into the mentality of most world religions. Most of the major faith systems teach that sins or immorality must be countered or neutralized by good deeds. The idea is that our positive moral behavior must outweigh our negative moral behavior. While there is certainly some appeal to this sort of thought, an honest search inside our own souls must certainly reveal the depth of our own depravity. Even our good deeds are often tarnished by impure motives. I know that I often act honorably with selfish intent. So, is it really wise to trust in our own righteous acts?
Another question to ponder is this: Does such a model actually take seriously the damage that is done by moral wrongdoing? Or does it instead brush over the seriousness of the offense? Suppose a murderer spends the remainder of his life saving others. Can he really overcome the guilt of having taken a life? Will the thousands of lives he saves remove the pain, sorrow, and loss suffered by the family of his victim?
Tiger appealed to the passage of time covering his mistakes. He acknowledged that many people had believed in him, and he asked that they "find room in (their) hearts to one day believe in me again." Of course, the old saying is that time heals all wounds. But how true is that? With the passage of time, we do often see that some offenses were exaggerated, or perhaps were merely accidental. Yet, we must also recognize that many wounds only fester and grow with the passage of time. Time may give perspective, but it does not provide healing.
Ultimately, I believe we must all recognize the unblunted seriousness of our own moral failures, the damage caused by them, and come to accept that we can never undo the pain that we cause. Our only hope is to offer ourselves to the Judge, to receive our due punishment, to come face to face with the consequences of our actions, to take on forever the penalty of our sins...
And then receive the forgiveness available. Only when we go through the dark depth of our just desserts do we realize the beauty of forgiveness, the one thing that we all need more than air.