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Paying for my sins?
May 20, 1998

I am 18 and started to have sex when I was 14 years old. I was angry at my parents who were divorcing and I guess really liked the attention boys gave me when I said yes and had sex with them. I had sex with a lot of guys. And recently I found God again and am celibate. I met a really nice man at Church and he is serious about me. I haven't told him about my past. Just to make sure that I was ok I went to get tested. I discovered that I have paid for my sins and I am HIV positive. I know he'll never want me now. I know that I probably should just give my life to the Lord and become a nun. But I just thought I'd ask you how come some people have to pay for their sins in this life and others get away with being really bad their whole lives and don't get sick or have miserable lives. What lesson can I gain from this? That God doesn't love me? That there is no justice? That it is just my bad luck. I am so frustrated and know that this man is so close to desiring to marry me but this will never happen and I'm doomed to not see too many future birthdays--let alone a man who wants me. Any solace you can give me? Any hope? How can I imagine that there is a kind and fair God? Why should I bother to go on living?

Response from Father DeMartini

Dear Friend--Thank you for your honest and powerful note. First of all, I understand how the circumstances you faced in your youth--need for love, acceptance and care in the midst of family breakup--may have exposed you to risks regarding HIV infection that you certainly were not asking for. Sin is really a deliberate and conscious action of unloving and it doesn't sound to me that your HIV status is result of sin but came unwanted in a search for love. Secondly, I would not assume that the man you just met would not want you---his love and care for you may survive the news about your HIV status--give him a chance to love and support you. I hope that you will also find a way to voice your anger and disillusionment with God in prayer. I believe that God is infinitely caring and understands our fear and the unfairness of life much like he understood the unfair circumstances dealt to Jesus--Jesus' resurrection is a powerful voice that says death/despair can be overcome and new life can come out of ashes and a positive diagnosis. Finally, I also encourage you to find a support group of women with whom you can share your story. If you need some referrals--please let me know. I will keep you in prayer--please stay in contact. Your life is worth living! Fr. Rod

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