Death and Taxes

Go to any AA meeting and in the preamble you will hear the phrase "rigorous honesty." Well, just this past week I had to get honest and tell on myself. Last year I babysat two children full-time while I was on my maternity leave. When it came time to file my taxes I conveniently left off $4,000 of the $5,000 I earned in extra income. I thought to myself, what does it matter? The remainder of my income still only amounts to $11,000; the government practically owes this to me -people on welfare get more support in the run of a year than I earned. This is how I justified my lie.

Not long after I filed my tax return one child's mother called to ask for my social insurance number -she was filing her taxes and needed to claim her daycare expenses. I had no idea I would be identified on her return. I was filled with panic when I realized that "tax evasion" (a term that didn't even enter my mind until confronted with the threat of being caught) carried a penalty of up to 50% of the undeclared income. With some quick research online I learned that offenders also had their dirty laundry aired in public. A well known hairdresser from my town had failed to declare a significant portion of her income for three years and her transgressions were printed on the Canada Revenue Agency website.

I felt guilty because of my deceit. Deep down I knew from the beginning that I wasn't doing the right thing. However, it was the threat of getting caught and paying a fine or being publicly shamed that made me do the right thing and amend my return. I wish I could say it was pangs of remorse that lead to my disclosure and financial amends but God knows I probably never would have listened to my conscience if I was certain I wouldn't get caught.

This little lesson came with some big insights. When I sin, I am more afraid of my peers finding out than I am of God's disapproval. Am I so certain of God's love and forgiveness that I have stopped fearing Him? I remember reading a near-death experiencer share his account of facing judgement on the other side. He said the one question he was asked, that brought the extent of his failure into focus, was how have you loved? When I imagine myself in the presence of the Great Artist, of such pure love and grace, I am instantly humbled and shamed. Remember Michelle, the one true opinion that matters.

So this is my confession, to you, anonymous internet people. I am still a work in progress. He isn't finished with me yet.

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