It seems to me that I grow more aware of my own sinfulness the more I seek to know God better. Just a few years ago, I felt quite content in my "goodness," but now, it feels like I am constantly recognizing how inadequate I am. Yet this recognition is not a "beat yourself up" kind of recognition, just the realization that I have far to go in the process of living into the image of God.
I move between sadness over my propensity to fall short and rejoicing that God is showing me more of myself, warts and all. I really like the way Brian McLaren describes it in Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices. In describing the ancient threefold way of purgation, illumination and unification, he uses an example I can understand. He talks about entering an abandoned and boarded-up house. First you have to remove the boards and clean up the windows. Once you do, you realize how dirty the place really is.
So I rejoice that the boards and grime are off the windows to my soul, because that was a big job in itself, and if I'm not attentive, the grime will once again prevent me from seeing the next part of the clean-up process. In acknowledging the filth within, I have made some progress in overcoming pride, so I am now better able to see how I really am on the inside. But just as the windows of my house need regular cleaning, I have to be vigilant against allowing pride to gunk up the view into my soul. And, just as cleaning the windows of my house leaves me with sore muscles, there is pain involved in recognizing just how much pride has blinded me to seeing my true nature. I am grateful that God doesn't leave me dirty!
Purify my from my sins, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.