I think confession gets a bad rap. I doubt I know anyone who would say, "I just love when I get to confess things to people!" or "my favorite part of living is confession!" (Side note: If you indeed are someone for whom these statements are true, we should talk - I'd love to learn from you.)
For many of us, though, it seems like confession as a practice tends to easily get downplayed or overlooked. Depending on your church background, chances are confession has not been a terribly huge part of your worship experience. When we think about confession, it seems like it is either a deeply private and personal thing or it's some kind of huge secret someone is finally disclosing or coming clean about.
But I have to wonder, are we sometimes missing the point of confession? Or are we perhaps making into a bigger and more daunting thing than it needs to be?
Throughout the past year or so, I have gotten in the habit of doing fairly regular "brainstorms" as part of my work on our school's development team. For me, this looks like taking maybe a half hour or so and just typing out whatever random thoughts or ideas come to mind. This practice has become something I not only enjoy, but I also find that if I go too long without doing it, I tend to feel like I'm experiencing a backlog of sorts.
It's like I have all these ideas floating around in my brain that just keep coming, and if I never pause to write any of them down, they can tend to overwhelm me. I guess there is something about writing them down that makes them easier to handle. Maybe it's like I've moved them from floating-in-space status to grounded status, at least in some way.
Meanwhile, I've been learning a lot recently about the power of habits. It has been said that the only way to truly lasting change is through regular habits. And I've been realizing that my various habits may be more interconnected than I realized. While something like keeping up with the laundry is not in itself necessarily a "spiritual" habit, there is something about the rhythm of regular-life things that lends itself to healthy rhythms in general.
Could it be that when I take time to do the dishes every single night, I'm creating a rhythm that makes space for God to do good work in me? Not that doing the dishes or keeping up with laundry are meant to completely replace praying or reading the Bible, but what if they actually work hand in hand with the more "spiritual" practices?
I guess the thing about something like the dishes or the laundry is that we can easily see when we've gotten behind and need to catch up. In all honesty, it's pretty hard to NOT have at least some kind of practice when it comes to these things, even if it's not the most consistent or well-executed. By matter of necessity, it's going to get done one way or another.
What about confession though? In some ways, my experience with confession feels more like the backlog when I haven't brainstormed for a while and less like my habitual doing of dishes or laundry. I'm curious to know what freedom and joy we all might experience if we practiced confession a little more regularly. What if we could let go of that inward cringe we all feel about confession, whether it's us who is confessing or someone else?
Nathan Foster writes, "I wonder if confession is not just about naming our wrongdoings but is a deliberate act of framing our life in an honest and open manner, accepting the truth of our life and not trying to cover things up. Maybe confession doesn't just have to be a big thing we gear ourselves up for but can be a posture and a practice of living an open life with integrity and genuineness."
I'm not sure that there is one particularly right way to do confession. Whether it's sharing something with another person, writing out a prayer, speaking to God, or even singing a song, maybe what matters is that we're regularly doing some form of confession - just like we are regularly doing the dishes or the laundry - all the while remembering God's endless mercy.
Let's do what we can to not let our sins pile up and remain in the dark. Let's keep walking in the light, confessing our sins and basking in the warmth of God's tender and loving grace toward us.
Pray with me...
... Lord, may all in the BCS/WCA community come to You regularly in prayer.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:16
... Father, free us to confess our sins to each other without fear or judgment.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
... Lord, we confess our tendency toward selfishness and pray that You would work humility in our hearts, especially as we prepare to serve others during Serve-a-Thon next week.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves Philippians 2:3
Soli Deo Gloria
To God alone be the glory
~ Carrie Warner, BCS/WCA Prayer Team Coordinator
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