Essay

Legacy, #3: Omission and Commission

By June 14, 2015 No Comments
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By Helen Luhrs

When my mom died this winter, I realized the generation of my parents was gone. What I learned from them about faith and life was now mine to practice and pass on. To help me remember what I learned and treasure what nuggets of truth I want to share, these Summer Sundays are dedicated to Henry and Edith Blankespoor, my parents.

“And as for you, brothers and sisters, never tire of doing what is good.” 2 Thessalonians 3:13

When I was a child, I had a plethora of tiny gold notebooks given out by the Sioux Falls Livestock Commission whose name was written in bold letters across the front. The notebook was just the right size for church notes, drawing while waiting, and recording any number of important things such as the number of corn rows I walked spraying for thistles. I think we received a nickel a row.

When my dad’s prayers at our evening meal included the line “forgive us for our sins of omission and commission,” I was certain he was praying for the livestock commission. A few of the managers who made stops at our house had salty language so praying for them made sense to me.

I’m not sure just when I figured out the meaning of omission and commission in that context and the importance of his prayer and how much he meant it. Commission was easier to understand. Not stealing, not murdering, or not “committing the big ones” does not present nearly as big a challenge as omission—putting off kindness, making excuses for unfulfilled acts of mercy, and forgetting to do the small things that matter to others.

My dad worked hard at this skill. He deliberately chose to follow his heart and was grieved when he felt he had not done enough or had sinned by “omission.” He took the words of Paul seriously and never seemed to tire of stopping by to check on a crusty neighbor, visiting the unlikeable as well as the likeable in the hospital, and going over to help a bring in a crop for a sick farmer. If new families came to church, Mom and Dad invited them over. Even when they were long past seventy, they invited new young couples over for a meal or a cup of coffee.

I want that spirit of following through on the kindnesses that pass through my head. I know I make excuses that satisfy me intellectually, but am I assuming all those sins of omission will be forgiven with no toll on my soul or my relationship with God? I wonder.

Lord, forgive my sins of omission and commission. Help me not to pat myself on the back for choosing not to break your commandments when I am neglecting to follow your will in the ways I can do good to others. Give me the energy and heart to never tire of doing what is good.

An Iowa woman to the core, Helen Luhrs is a high school teacher who lives out in the country near Knoxville, Iowa. Helen and Lee have four married daughters, five grandchildren, a graceful prairie, and a square foot garden.

Helen Luhrs

An Iowa woman to the core, Helen Luhrs is a recently retired high school teacher who lives in the country near Knoxville, Iowa. Helen and Lee have four married daughters, six grandchildren, a graceful prairie, and a square foot garden.

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