Humans are the most vulnerable of all creation.
Because we feel and reason so deeply, we can achieve and develop so profoundly, but it also leaves us the most susceptible to the pain of being scorned.
It is for this reason that people rarely offers themselves to the practice of Confession.
To confess is to admit that you are or have been wrong. It is difficult enough to admit to yourself that you’ve been wrong. It is downright painful to have to admit it to others.
In the Bible, in a letter written to the early church thousands of years ago, a man named Peter wrote, "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God." Later on he says, "Clothe yourselves in humility towards one another." Peter understood a reality about human nature, one that we haven’t managed to unravel after all this time: humility is something we will have to consciously put on every time, even as we consciously put on our socks in the morning or a sweatshirt on a cool evening.
And it seems to be just as difficult every time we have to swallow our pride, live vulnerably and share what is REALLY going on.
If it is so scary, why should we confess our faults, our past, and even our moral failures to one another?
In the Bible, a man named John who was friends with Jesus, talked about how confessing actually helps us escape a trap of darkness. When we "bring things into the light", the power of that secret is broken. Our primary need is for relationship and our primary fear is of rejection and loneliness. We want to know that we belong and have a secure place.
When we have done something that we are ashamed of, we feel the great threat of, "If they knew the truth about you, they would lose all respect for you.”
We begin to believe, “They would attack and expose you. They wouldn't know what to do with you." The trouble is that until the confession is made, those threats linger. We never feel free to be ourselves and our relationships suffer.
And so, the power of shame keeps us from the very place where it can be broken.
If you confess your stuff in an environment where the love of God is understood and the forgiveness of Jesus is embraced - there, shame is broken.
Here are 4 things you need to know if you want to step out in humility and tell the truth:
1. You are not alone.
No matter who you are or what you have done, you are not more of a mess than anyone around you. This is the strangely comforting part of the truth in the Bible that says "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." We are in this together, and we should be shocked at nothing. Of all the people of the world, Christians should be the least judgmental. We can't even be saved until we recognize our need for a Savior.
2. We don't confess because it's the easy thing to do; we confess because it is the right thing to do.
The thing that is right is the thing that will lead us to life. If you want to follow Jesus, you need to follow Him in all things. I've had to confess some dreadful things over the years, ranging from areas of sexual temptation and sin, to struggles with self-pity, outbursts of anger, or having a critical spirit. In the moments leading up to the confession it always seems easier to just bury it, but that is not freedom. And the Lord knows, we are made for freedom.
3. You don't have to confess to the whole world.
God is not interested in shaming anyone, and your public penance is not going to win you any points in His eyes. Confess to someone you trust who is a leader or mentor in your life. Share it with a friend who is cheering for you and won't belittle the problem or throw more shame at you. The time will come when God may lead you to share your story with others in order to bring them hope, but it doesn't have to be right away. Let wounds heal as they need to.
4. It isn't just sin that we can confess.
I have seen evidence in my own life that the habit of confession can be applied in other ways. Sometimes I haven't done anything wrong, yet things weigh heavily on my mind. I've had dreams in the night that seem to haunt me through the day, until I was able to acknowledge it and speak it out loud. I've had suffocating fears, areas of insecurity, looming doubts and questions, all of which are temptations to believe something other than the Truth. When I bring these into the light and look at them with a friend at my side, the power of those secrets are destroyed.
Be courageous. Don’t hide away in the darkness of secrecy. Your heart cannot survive in that stagnant room.
I want you to take a deep breath. Pause for ten seconds and ask yourself, “What is one step I can take today that would let in a bit more light?”