On Confession

On some days I miss my old theology, because at least THEN I had some control over things.

I did my thing called “faith,” which obligated God to make my afterlife pleasant by putting me in a nice (non-flaming) neighborhood.  But since then I’ve learned that my Papa already loves me, that Jesus has already included me within his forever-life with Papa, and their Spirit is already saturating every moment of my life with experiences of this Truth.  I’ve learned that my belief or non-belief doesn’t change any of that.

So why is my life a cauldron of shame?

I can’t blame it on God anymore.  Jesus, his Papa, and their Spirit treat me royally; they always have and always will.  The problem is not God.  The problem is not my location or circumstances.  “Going to heaven” won’t make it better.  “Going to hell” won’t make it worse.  Because the problem isn’t “out there.”  The problem is in me; the problem is that I hate the truth.

Don’t get me wrong; I like the idea that God loves me, etc.  That part rocks.  I am happy to confess that truth.  It’s the other part of the truth that I don’t want to confess.  The truth about the things I’ve done, the lies I’ve told, the people I’ve hurt.  The truth that I’ve loved darkness and still sorta do.

FESS means “to speak.”  CON means “with.”  To confess is to SPEAK-WITH God.  To say what God says, to tell the truth with Him in one voice together. I’ve done plenty of confession in prayer; I’m well aware that my misdeeds are not news to God.  And I’ve always tried to be pretty open about being a guy who has an ongoing history of brokenness, just like everybody else.

So why is my shame still here?

Addicts learn a painful lesson in the Twelve Steps, especially Step Five:  We discover that we cannot break free from shame without confessing “to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”  Or, as Brother James puts it: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5.16).  When we connect with the truth (with God, with ourselves, and with others), we begin to become unbroken/healed/saved.

Now, if you keep secrets about your past but still feel completely shame-free, that’s wonderful.  I don’t know how you manage that, but I’m happy for you.  All I know is that I cannot keep secrets if I want to be free from shame.  I need to have a small circle of people-my wife and a couple friends-who know everything.  The whole list, with all the relevant details.  If I withhold relevant facts (about past or present), it is because I believe they will reject me if I tell them.  That belief is the voice of shame, and I refuse to listen to it anymore.  I am no longer willing to let toxic shame have any place in my life.

If a secret unpleasant truth is poisoning me on the inside, confession is how I expel it from my body.  I believe I will survive the process because Jesus has taught me that the truth will set me free.  I want freedom more than I want the artificial comfort of keeping my skeletons in my closet. “We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception” (2 Cor 4.2).

I am choosing to accept and confess the truth about myself.  I am choosing to believe in the ability of God (and His people) to love me anyway.  So that “by believing I may have life” (John 20.31).

~ by John Stonecypher

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