The heart of confession

Confess your sins to each other, James 5:16 says.  There’s healing if we do, according to the verse.  This is not easy, friends.  Not for me anyway. 

Putting words on what I did makes confession painful, but it also helps bring healing.  Who wants to accept his own guilt?  Who wants to face what is mean or cowardly or cruel inside of himself?

When I confess my sins to God and others I am not looking for counseling or psychotherapy, or for a warm blanket of forgetfulness to be cast over my past. Sometimes, I hope not often, I am tempted to be vague about what I have done so that it might be easily excused.

A reading on one of my favorite prayer sites says, “In Confession we try to see our meanness as others might see it. … ‘That is what I did, it was bad, and I am sorry.’ In all our religious life, there is no act as personal as this. The other sacraments can easily turn into empty rituals. Confession, taken seriously, makes the most intense personal demands on us; and brings a comfort we can feel.”

Confession is so difficult and so vital.  Confession is the road to reconciliation. 

The bottom line for me in confession is that I truly see myself as I am, not as I imagine myself.  I name what I did.  I own it. 

And then often, thank God, I get to see the magic of God’s reconciliation in action.  Someone hears my confession and says (I hope, at least), “Thank you for confessing that.  You are forgiven.”

And I respond (I hope) to being forgiven with this simple, humble response:  “Thank you so much.”  There’s really nothing else to say.

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