The Invitation to Confess

I shared this short thought on Facebook over the summer, but also wanted to share it here….

Historically speaking, I am not good at confessing sin. Here’s my problem: I’m a perfectionist. I don’t do very much that is wrong, objectively speaking. I follow rules. It makes me squirm inside even to think about other people breaking rules. I obey the speed limit. I didn’t drink alcohol until my 21st birthday. I have a deep inner need to do things right all the time.

None of these facts mean that I don’t sin. But it does mean it is hard to see my sin, to confess it, to receive forgiveness for it, and to be free of it.

Maybe I should start by defining sin. I know it’s an old-fashioned religious word, but it’s also a word I appreciate, because it can be used to describe so much that is wrong in the world–wrong within me as an individual, wrong within systems and structures, wrong within communities and families and bodies and governments. Sin, as I understand it, is anything–any action or attitude or inaction–that separates us from God. Anything that separates us from Love. Anything that breaks us apart from ourselves, from one another, from creation, from wholeness and health and beauty and truth and goodness.

I’m sure that sin is at work within me. I do not live in a state of perfect bliss. But it isn’t easy for me to see my own sin, because my sin rarely shows up as doing things “wrong.” In fact, my sin often shows up as doing things right.

But recently, I’ve been more able to see my own sin. Some of that has come because I’ve asked God to show it to me. Some of it has come from doing some work with the Enneagram and a helpful yoga teacher. Some of it has come from growing up a little bit.

Without providing an exhaustive list, I’ve found that I worry a lot. I worry about the future. I worry about my kids having friends. I worry about how I appear, how much I weigh, whether my career is successful and meaningful. And every time I worry, I turn away from Love, away from trusting in God’s goodness, away from peace and wholeness. For years, I didn’t see my worry as sin. I saw it as responsibility, executive function, an ability to plan well and take care of everyone. But now that I can see that this worry causes me to judge others, to condemn myself, to snap at our kids, and literally to carry around a dull ache in my right hip, I am grateful to name it for what it is. Because when I name it as sin, I can relinquish it. I can confess it, turn away from it, and ask God to heal it.

I am discovering that confession is an invitation to healing and wholeness. It is not an invitation to shame or guilt. It is a kind welcome back into the goodness of God. Confession is the beginning of freedom.

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