Not so very long ago, I sinned.
And it wasn’t the kind that was just between me and God, that I could quickly work out through private prayer and repentance; rather, from the get-go, it was glaringly obvious to my redeemed heart that I must confess my sin to the one I had sinned against and ask forgiveness…
in this case, my wonderful, sweet, kind, pure-hearted husband who, though he knows the very worst about me and loves me anyway, would be rightfully disappointed and saddened by my actions.
Kill me now.
And to make things worse, when I met him outside that very day to carry out my intentions, I chickened out and sort-of confessed before softening my sin with a blatant lie.
Heavy sigh. Now I had two sins to confess.
I carried them around for two entire weeks.
They sat like weighty bricks on my conscience, and I prayed for an opportunity to release these burdens…
but everytime the opportunity arose, the words stuck in my throat. I just couldn’t allow him to see me for who I really was.
“Tomorrow…” I thought, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”
Obviously, God was using the entire episode to teach me a great truth, because He pursued me like a hound, convicting me through sermons, hymns, Bible verses, and even other people’s facebook statuses; I could not escape the fact that I was meant to confess my sin to Mr. Gore, and I knew my soul would not rest until I obeyed.
Finally, in the most yellow-bellied act of all time, I sent my husband a facebook message with three confessions and three pleas for forgiveness…
1. My initial sin.
2. My lie about that sin.
3. For pathetically confessing all of the above via the internet.
When he later checked his messages and responded in the most gracious manner possible, I began to weep right there at my computer. And as tears ran down my face, great understanding about the art of confession flooded into my heart, things I had never seen or understood before that moment…
when it comes to sins against other people, verbal confession is vital to repentance. Even though I had talked to God plenty about what I had done wrong, until I obeyed His Word and made known my secret sin, I hadn’t truly dealt with it. And it wasn’t until I received that response from Mr. Gore that I was able to freely mourn over my initial disobedience in an honest and healthy way; it was so painful and so freeing at the same time and one of the most defining moments of my Christian life to date.
verbal confession is one of the greatest forms of accountability. The guilt I suffered those two long weeks, coupled with the awareness that my husband now knows new and grisly details about the state of my heart, is enough to keep me from committing that same sin possibly forever. It is easy to continue sinning when you hide (and thus, cherish) that sin in your heart. Making sin known, on the other hand, illuminates its true ugliness and helps you to hate it in the way you are intended to.
confession is good for everyone. It benefits no one for us to put on a façade of perfection, but when we confess our failings, it allows us to share love and forgiveness with our brothers and sisters, to grow in our relationships, to help one another along in the faith, and to build a firm foundation of obedience on the rock that is Jesus Christ. It is amazing what happens when Christians start being real with one another – we find that we are FAR from alone in our depravity, and we can then truly spur one another on to love and good works. This is exactly what my husband did for me, and it was life-changing.
and finally, confession is an exercise. Why was it so hard for me to confess that sin to my husband? Mainly, this: I have had very little practice. Confessing this type of sin out loud (er…on facebook) rather than just dealing with it inwardly, was a new thing for me, and I was as rusty at performing it as I would be doing curls at the gym. I have a feeling, however, that no matter how much I will probably always dread this exercise, it will grow easier and easier the more I employ it in my life…and maybe someday, I’ll be able to do it face-to-face rather than through a silly computer screen! Disciplining ourselves to do hard things is never fun, really, but my, it brings about the most glorious changes…
Obviously it was a big moment for me.
Fast forward a couple of months to yesterday morning…
I was having a really crummy day.
I was grouchy. Self-absorbed. Entitled. Unloving.
I was just being a real jerk.
And I knew it.
But the saddest thing was, I couldn’t scrape up enough care to even want to combat this sinfulness. I just wanted to wallow in it.
Lay in it like a pot-bellied pig.
I was being mean and sour on the outside, lazy on the inside, taking out whoever happened to cross my path, and even failing to smile at the people I passed at Wal-Mart. Usually I can at least be nice to strangers…
But I was especially hateful to my family.
And I hated every second of it.
Finally, by the sweet grace of God that never fails me, I was drawn out of this attitude, at least enough to start trying to beat it, even though the inward battle was still raging, and by late afternoon, I was privately talking to God about my failings and my desperate need for patience with the little children He has entrusted to me.
“Phooey on it!” I thought, as I washed white paint off of Gideon and Rebekah in my bathtub (deja vu, anyone?), “just be honest with them. Confess your sins, woman!”
“You guys…” I blurted out, “I am really, really grouchy today, and I am so sorry about that. Will you forgive me?”
“Yes,” Gideon matter-of-factly replied, “how could we not forgive our Mom?”
“Yeah…” said Rebekah, as I lifted her out of the tub and wrapped her in a bathtowel, “how could we not forgive our Mom? We love you!!”
And with those words, she threw her soft, damp arms around my neck and covered my face with kisses.
Heart bubbling over with love and gratitude, I returned her embrace and we rocked back and forth on the wet bathroom tile, my sin forgiven and forgotten, my weary soul drinking deeply of the healing power of confession as the open wounds of my struggling heart were closed up by the exuberant love and forgiveness of my family.
That’s some heartbreakingly beautiful stuff right there.
Of course, my prayer is to continually sin less and less, but as we make this pilgrimage together, I also pray that our home will continue to grow into a place of honesty and transparency, where we can lay our souls bare, knowing that forgiveness and reconciliation are just a confession away.