The Gift of Confession

photo-1460917975071-bcf44881c99e

I’m in the middle of a great book.  I recommend it.  The Sacred Year by Michael Yankoski is an excellent book on spiritual renewal and growth. It’s not a speed-read.  It is thought-provoking and quite challenging.   I highly recommend it.

It digs deeper than the feel-goods I usually enjoy reading.  It explores beyond the typical, everyday sort of religious conversations into mapping out spiritual practice. 

Recently, I read a chapter on confession.  The practice of confession serving as a healing point for our hearts and minds.  In the particular religious construct I find myself a part of, confession is a private and personal moment between God and me.

photo-1447619297994-b829cc1ab44a

I wonder how many times, though, I am ashamed to truly confess or become too busy for true confession.  There are two components to confession.

One is coming clean before God and the other is coming clean before others. 

Can we really believe confession is beneficial? 

Frederick Buechner said,

“To confess your sins to God is not to tell him anything he doesn’t already know.  Until you confess them, however, they are the abyss between you.  When you confess them, they become the bridge.”

This is powerful.  I often find that I too often offer blanket confession before God. 

Sometimes, a one-size-fits-all type of confession. “Lord, forgive my sin.”  There is beauty in this, but I have to think it isn’t always enough. It is good to be specific and honest with ourselves and with God.  I have noticed when I am open and honest, my openness to His work on my behalf increases. 

In recent months, when I have been honest about my sin, say of unforgiveness, and I name it for what it is and ask for His help in conquering it, I notice a change in me.  I see His hand working and sense He is ready to help. 

Honestly, I miss this too often.  I get busy or lose track, but He is showing me His faithfulness every time. 

photo-1460753311952-cf4606955685

Let’s take this one step further. 

Can you imagine how our spiritual and mental health would improve if we were able to make confession to someone safe as well?  To be able to safely unload our shame.  And in this way, not carrying our burden alone. 

The Bible speaks of confessing our sins to one another. 

photo-1438030884032-8e6fc76046f5

How many of us ever feel safe enough to confess any of our shortcomings and sins to other people?  Our culture is too caught up in having it together. And, let’s face it, often, we know our sin can and will be used against us.  

Many times we find the self-righteous Believers among us and this quickly shuts down the conversation.  But, I want us to consider true confession as a pathway to a whole and sound life.

 This is where our self-righteousness (in ourselves and towards others) needs to fall by the wayside. God sees our suffering in sin as like a cancer.  It is eating away at us and must be handled.  It is not out of vengeance or anger He looks upon us, but, it is with compassion and mercy.  He knows it is killing us. 

And, He has the cure.

photo-1423449866043-73b9a34cb270

He hates sin.  He hates the death it is bringing.  He doesn’t hate us. 

In His love, He is calling us to Him so He can heal us and make us whole.  So, confession, while initially seems vulnerable and unpleasant, is the answer to our pain. Pulling our sin out of the darkness and flushing it with light, destroys the hold it has over us.  The enemy of our souls thrives in the dark; secret sins have no power over us when they are brought into the light.

photo-1452111380487-b84c8895e191

Our sin, which causes a breach, will soon become the bridge after we open wide our hearts to Him and His inspection.  As a recovering perfectionist, I hate to be wrong or make mistakes.  Not just because it means I am wrong, but because, it means somewhere in this heart of mine, I am flawed. 

I don’t like being flawed.  But, I am.  We all are. 

This Savior sees and knows our weakness and failings.  Let’s be honest and open with Him and with the safe people in our lives.  Healing comes when we open our hearts and sweep out the junk we’ve swept into a corner.

photo-1435265796918-0e3d3e4af435

Forgiveness…..It Makes Me Sweat

Forgiveness.  The word makes me sweat.  

I am an emotional person.  I feel things deeply. I take things to heart.  My heart gets bruised.  And, it’s not just about me.  I am madly in love with my husband and children.  They are my world.  When they hurt, I hurt. When bad things happen to them, it might as well be me!  I am very emotive….so much estrogen.  Just ask my family.  (Think mother bear!)

The biggest lesson of my life came in October 2011.  Desperate to end his nightmare, our child spilled his hurt and pain to my husband.  We knew this person.  We thought she was safe—she wanted to be a youth pastor and we were mentoring her towards that end.  We thought we knew and understood her well.

Apparently, we didn’t.

The days that followed were full of rage, pain and complete shock.  We navigated the legal system, detectives, and victim advocates in a haze of unbelief.  Not unbelief of our child’s story.  We never doubted him.  Sitting in the detective’s office, trying to answer endless questions, we just couldn’t figure out how we had gotten to this point.

How could someone do this to one of our own and to our family?

I never dreamed, in all my days, I would be sitting

in a courtroom listening to all the graphic details of the abuse.

Who does?

Betrayal of any kind is painful. 

At this level, it was hard to breathe.  We had done so much to better the life and future of this caregiver; providing opportunities for a future that would not have come anywhere else.

We did receive justice in the legal system. We are grateful.  It started the healing process for our boy and for us. We felt heard and understood.  Unfortunately, in today’s culture, male victims of female perpetrators many times don’t receive equal justice.   But, we did. And that is nothing short of a miracle.

But, see, this is where it gets gritty.

As Christ Followers, we are taught to forgive.

  For the longest time I wasn’t in any place to forgive.  I needed  time and space to process and heal.

And I honestly think God was okay with that.  I learned something important.

Everybody moves at their own pace and the journey is cyclical—just like in the grieving process.

FORGIVENESS   IS   NOT   EASY   NOR   CHEAP.

I have to say, there are some days I don’t feel as if I have forgiven very well.  Most days, three years isn’t long enough to pay for the level of trauma, fear and pain he endured.  And, if I am really honest (please allow me),

I can’t understand how God could forgive this, much less me.

 

I know this: If I surrender my deep betrayal and pain to God, and follow His lead, He will walk me through this difficult journey of forgiveness.

I am learning that forgiveness is a journey.

This past week was a perfect example of how much work I have left to do, but how far I have come!  It was a milestone in our journey.  He knows we are human.  We are not perfect in this earthly skin.

I think forgiveness isn’t a one and done type of thing either.

It is a process—a lifelong journey that brings great peace.  I imagine I will work the rest of my life to forgive fully and completely as I know Christ does.  I know God knows my humanity.

He gives me strength and power to do what I can’t seem to do on my own.

As you can see, it makes the top 10 of the hardest lessons I will learn in life.  And I’m still trying to figure it all out.  It is a team effort with God leading the way.  I’ll follow in His footsteps and I know all will be alright.

What about you?  Do you have something that screams for forgiveness but you just don’t know how?  Can you give yourself grace knowing God does when you are walking hand in hand….moving in His unhurried rhythms of grace?

 

My friend, I know it is hard.  I hate the cliches.

But, God is jealous for you and is aware of your pain.

Sit and listen for His rhythm of grace.