The Confessional

Sin’s Shame

To begin, confessions begin in our heart and move to our voice. They are motivated by a sense of repentance, or a feeling of regret and remorse about things we do that hurt others, ourselves, and our God. AKA, sins. They are intended to provide freedom from the chains of guilt associated or resulting from said sin and, as a Christian, offer a clean slate to begin again. Exactly the kinda thing we’re all seeking at the start of any new year. Confessions can be both truth bombs and neutralizers. They wake us up to recognize our daily need for Jesus and also help us see each other in the same knowing light He sees us – because each and every one of us sins.

But, there’s the rub… We don’t really want to face them because… our sins embarrass us. They shame us. They show others our weaknesses. They make us feel inadequate or less than. So, we cover them up with pride and blame and manipulation and anger and deflection, or a little white-washing and reasoning, or we flat out ignore their existence all together.

But, guess what? We can’t do this forever. Eventually we get caught. Or caught up and bound. Or the sins we’ve buried, bury us in regret, remorse, and a never ending need for redoes and rewrites. So, wouldn’t you much rather live in the complete freedom of confession? I would. I must. And I now think it’s the only way to live. Because Jesus has shown me He’s bigger than my sins and He can be trusted to forgive me and forget them, plus erase any shame surrounding all of them.
And because there’s real life to be lived out there, Y’all. Like really, real life. Not Fakebook or Filtergram or HideBehindYourKeyboard.com.

Free, Indeed

And we can live that life free from shame, lies, pretense, or all the pressures of must-do’s must-tries, must-be’s and must-haves! We can live free because we can confess our mess, get immediate forgiveness from the Only One Who gives it, and live boldly and daily from a clean slate of forgiveness. That’s living in relationship with the only One Who can lead us to the truth. That’s living loved. Not living to cover up. Not living in a relationship to what others believe is best for us. And loving in confession leads us to our true life. To the way marked out for us, personally. We don’t need the bondage that shouts, “Do this!” “Don’t do that!!” “Read this!” “Eat this, not that!” “You should do it this way.” “Why would you ever do it that way?!”

Because, doesn’t all that just begin to feel like a chasing of the wind or like we’re being tossed back and forth by waves created from the force of what others believe? The Bible speaks to this very thing, you know. The Bible is The Word to believe, you know.

That’s why I’m confessing. That’s why I’m coming to you, bare-souled and confessing that I must be sold out to Jesus Christ instead.

And this is the year I make a public stand. See, I don’t want to do what others suggest I should. I haven’t for a while now. I want to do what Jesus says I should. Because I know I’m nothing at all apart from Him. Now, these two things might be the same thing in the end, but I won’t know until I take all I hear to Him first in prayer. I know absolutely nothing until then. And, in fact, I’ve learned nothing… have nothing… write nothing apart from Him.

And I can never earn anything or gain anything or receive anything. Not one thing – at all – apart from Him and His grace. And even the mere fact I know this, at all, is also from Him. Because to him and from him and through him all things exist. Nothing exists that is not…

So confess your sins, one to another.

Don’t mind if I do. (Though you might, so feel free to move along.)

I’m often judgemental.
I’m very self focussed.
Gentleness is rare for me.
I seek comfort before God.
I don’t usual speak truth in love.
I find it impossible to love some people.
I often withhold things I know people want.
I want everyone to like me.
I rarely like me.
I tend toward laziness and disinterest and cynicism, not joy.
I do not trust you.
I will hurt you.
Do not expect anything from me because you’ll be disappointed.
I’m disappointed you don’t give me what I need.
I can live on an island of one.
I mock, roll my eyes, laugh at, and call names. Basically I gossip.
I want you to be everything I’m not.
I don’t need you.
Don’t need me too much.
I live for myself.
I cuss and say inappropriate things and often drink too much wine and junk food.
I do not always see you as made in God’s image.
I often want to remake you in my own image.
I often wish you were different.
I often see you as in my way or annoying to me.
I care more about how you feel about me than how you feel when you’re around me.
I talk about myself way too much.
I’m undisciplined and insecure and sometimes too outspoken.
God is not usually enough for me.
I say very cruel things to my family.

And, I wish I could snap my fingers and do all that differently.

And this is just off the top of my head.

Jesus is Bigger and Better

So, why? Why confess to you all these awful ways about me? Because Jesus is bigger. And better. And is remaking me in His image. And I want you to know the real me. The really messy me. Especially at the start of this new year. Most especially because you allow me an ear. Not so you can love me despite it. Never! It’s so you can be free to see your own messy and know you have a message and a life saver and see that Jesus is loving you and remaking you, too. It’s so we both can live mask free and yet, massively loved, in community.

Listen, I want nothing more than to be a sinless, extra spiritual, lavishly loving, holy, soul edifying, super saint who pours her life out as an offering to others. I truly do. But, I’m not. And I likely never will be anywhere close to that. More likely I’ll continue in many of these sinful patterns, albeit less and less, as my life on Earth goes on. Because the good news is, that’s the nature of our walk with Jesus. He doesn’t just love the messy of who we are, staring at us through a doting momma’s eyes, and purring, “Awe… Isn’t she the most adorable thing?! I know she’s rough around the edges, but she doesn’t really mean it. She’s had a tough life. We should give her a pass.”

No. He sees it. Mourns it. Moves towards it. Takes a beating for it. Spills His blood for it. Then dies for it.

So we can live it. See it. Mourn it. Move away from it. Take His arms of love in it. Drink the blood He spilled for it. Then die to ourselves upon it.

That’s the reason for a regular confession. And it begins this beautiful exchange of His beauty for our ashes. His righteousness for our rags. His ongoing forgiveness for our sins. His death for our life. It’s an exchange of love.

Jesus says: I see you. I see your mess. Your sin. Before you even act upon it, even. I see why you make those messes in your life. I see that you don’t love me enough and therefore don’t trust me enough and need to control and fear and manipulate and hide behind that mask of lies get your way. I see every bit of it. So confess it to me. Let’s face it together. Let’s be honest so you can be real and healed. This is why I came. To seek and save the lost. I don’t just want you to be a better version of yourself. I didn’t die for you so you could live to find the best version of yourself. It’s also not about saying I see you and love you just the way you are. I do. But I love you way too much to ever leave you that way. I want to love you a better way. I want you to be who I have planned you to be. I want you to look like me. So let’s look at this mess together.

As I write this, on the third day of January, surrounded by roughly twenty still empty Christmas totes awaiting their contents, I hear a voice. It’s a mixture of my own and the enemy of my soul. It sounds like this: “You are lazy. Why are you writing this? No one reads it. You’re just avoiding work and procrastinating on what needs to be done. This is a total waste of time!” And I partly believe the voice. But, I hear just enough of another voice that says, “Bondage to lies is real thing. I came to offer freedom. So begin this year at the beginning. Begin in confession. Offer an alternative to starting in the middle of a mess. Offer Jesus, who was in the beginning and is My mediator and the perfector of the mess. Share his offer to others as you start fresh with confession.”

And, I listen to that Voice.