We have a winner!
The voting body has selected Justin's post as their favorite post in May.
My life situation is not drastically different from yours... know that you have the prayers of a fellow struggler. Regarding hell, fwiw this passage always gives me hope:
Snatch your soul away from the world; flee from Sodom; flee from the burning; travel on without turning back, lest you should be fixed as a pillar of salt (Gen. 19:26). Escape to the Mountain lest you be destroyed with the plain. But if you are already bound and constrained by the chain of necessity, reason thus with yourself; or rather let me reason thus with you. It is better both to attain the good and to keep the purification. But if it be impossible to do both it is surely better to be a little stained with your public affairs than to fall altogether short of grace; just as I think it better to undergo a slight punishment from father or master than to be put out of doors; and to be a little beamed upon than to be left in total darkness.
And it is the part of wise men to choose, as in good things the greater and more perfect, so in evils the lesser and lighter. Wherefore do not overmuch dread the purification. For our success is always judged by comparison with our place in life by our just and merciful Judge; and often one who is in public life and has had small success has had a greater reward than one who in the enjoyment of liberty has not completely succeeded; as I think it more marvellous for a man to advance a little in fetters, than for one to run who is not carrying any weight; or to be only a little spattered in walking through mud, than to be perfectly clean when the road is clean. To give you a proof of what I have said: Rahab the harlot was justified by one thing alone, her hospitality (Jos. 6:; James 2:25), though she receives no praise for the rest of her conduct; and the Publican was exalted by one thing, his humility (Luke 18:14), though he received no testimony for anything else; so that you may learn not easily to despair concerning yourself.
-- St. Gregory the Theologian, Oration 40.19
Here is another passage, that I posted earlier today:
Why are we so ready to judge our neighbor? Why are we so concerned about the burden of others? We have plenty to be concerned about, each one has his own debt and his own sins. It is for God alone to judge, to justify or to condemn. He knows the state of each one of us and our capacities, our deviations, and our gifts, our constitution and our preparedness, and it is for him to judge each of these things according to the knowledge that he alone has. For God judges the affairs of a bishop in one way and those of a prince in another. His judgment is for an abbot or for a disciple, he judges differently the senior and the neophyte, the sick man and the healthy man. Who could understand all these judgments except the one who has done everything, formed everything, knows everything?
I remember once hearing the following story: a slave ship put in at a certain port where there lived a holy virgin who was in earnest about her spiritual life. When she learned about the arrival of the ship she was glad, for she wanted to buy a small serving maid for herself. She thought to herself, 'I will take her into my home and bring her up in my way of life so that she knows nothing of the evils of the world.' So she sent and inquired of the master of the ship and found that he had two small girls who he thought would suit her. Whereupon she gladly paid the price and took one of the children into her house. The ship's master went away. He had not gone very far when there met him the leader of a dancing troupe who saw the other small girl with him and wanted to buy her; the price was agreed and paid, and he took her away with him.
Now take a look at God's mystery; see what his judgment was. Which of us could give any judgment about this case? The holy virgin took one of these little ones to bring her up in the fear of God, to instruct her in every good work, to teach her all that belongs to the monastic state and all the sweetness of holy commandments of God. The other unfortunate child was taken for the dancing troupe, to be trained in the works of the devil. What effect would teaching her this orgiastic dancing have, but the ruin of her soul? What can we have to say about this frightful judgment? Here were two little girls taken away from their parents by violence. Neither knew where they came from; one is found in the hands of God and the other falls into the hands of the devil.
Is it possible to say that what God asks from the one he asks also from the other? Surely not! Suppose they both fell into fornication or some other deadly sin; is it possible that they both face the same judgment or that their fall is the same? How does it appear to the mind of God when one learns about the Judgment and about the Kingdom of God day and night, while the other unfortunate knows nothing of it, never hears anything good but only the contrary, everything shameful, everything diabolical? How can he allow them to be examined by the same standard?
-- St. Dorotheos of Gaza (d. 6th century), Discourses and Sayings, (Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications, 1977), pp. 133-134
(Quoted in the Hermitage of the Holy Cross newsletter for May 2014)
God takes into account our life situation when dealing with us, and will do so when judging us. All God asks is that we make an effort, that we try to move in the right direction, and work with him and make progress through his grace. St. Paul compares the spiritual life with a race, but for most of us it is a marathon rather than a sprint. But as St. Gregory indicates at the end of the quote, even if we have only one virtuous thing, that's ok! God can work with that. Even if that one virtuous is simply the desire to follow a godly path, that will work. Seek, knock, ask, as Jesus said. So, it seems to me, knowing just what you have said in this thread, that you're on the way. Just trust in God, hope in God, and don't let despair grip you if you can head it off ahead of time. (Or, find ways to lesson it once it has begun)
For his efforts, we are sending Justin on an all expenses paid vacation at the luxurious Saddleback Resort. Our heartfelt thanks to Justin for the quality post!
Oh, wait....wrong contest.
Even better! Instead of a vacation you get to play in the sandbox with the rest of us! That's just like a vacation!!!!