“We can only be saved if we confess our sins” read the sign on the Trinity Baptist Church in Nebo NC. And I would add, to confess our sins is the first step towards a redemptive relationship with Jesus Christ. It is a very healing first step, but nonetheless not the end of the process. We have to not only claim what we’ve said and done that is sinful, we need to trace that sin back or down to its underlying cause and lift that up to God. And we need to face squarely all that was done to us, too. It is about confessing, but also about owning who we are and all that we have done and all that was done to us. And when we can own and embrace all that we are and all that has happened to us and include the sin that is ours, we are on our way to a real transformative relationship with Christ, to loving God with all of ourselves—heart, mind, soul and body. And still, that is not the end of all that we have to do.
Next we have to love ourselves exactly as we are and to accept God’s love for us, for this less than perfect human being. I don’t mean that we only ”know” in our minds that God loves us, but that we feel God’s love and forgiveness for us in every cell and bone in our body. Then we are well on our way to a true and deep relationship with God.
Confession is a church ritual, but it is more powerful when we acknowledge to ourselves where we fall short of loving God, before God. There are two powerful ways that I have found to confess, ones that lead to letting go of the sin and to the freedom of just owning all that we are. The first is to write anything we need to confess to God down in a journal. And the second is to say it out loud to yourself. Both of these methods make concrete in us what is normally rattling around in our minds, but not authentically acknowledged. Pronouncing it out loud and writing it down concretize what is going on within us; both methods make it real. And then when it is real and concrete, we can offer it up to God to heal and transform.
I especially find saying it out loud helpful in the morning when I wake up. If my energy is off in any way, I try to name out loud exactly how it feels. Some days, “I feel a little depressed.” Or “I am anxious about X.” Or “I can’t help thinking about x.” Whatever it is, I try to name it exactly. And when I do that, I find that the mood lifts in a few minutes. I learned this technique from my husband’s therapist when he was really depressed. I was asked to just listen to him describe what he was thinking and feeling without comment or trying to help. Ten or fifteen minutes later I could see his mood lift.
As for journaling, it is so helpful to see the thoughts concretely described. If you really want to learn how your mind preoccupies itself, try writing “morning pages” for two to three months as suggested by Julia Cameron in her book, “The Artist’s Way.” Morning pages are essentially a mind dump, done without thinking about what you are writing or editing in any way. Try this for 3 months every morning for 20 minutes and you will begin to know how you think unconsciously and what drives your behavior. It’s a beautiful way to get to know the unconscious in you and to begin to identify the source of its contents—your parents or maybe a special aunt or uncle or a teacher. And you will begin to see how much all these years later you are still trying to meet their expectations of you.
A more traditional way of journaling is to write about issues in your life or how you’re feeling or what’s on your mind these days. A journal can have a specific focus like gratitude for all that you acknowledge comes from God or the daily examen of where you experienced God and where you did not, or any other issue.
The purpose of journaling and speaking out loud is to be able to step back from the influence all this thinking has over you and to become an observer of your thoughts rather than being controlled emotionally by them. Then, as an observer, these thoughts lose their volume inside of you and the “still, small voice of God” can come forward in you to guide and direct your life. That’s the voice of the Indwelling Spirit of God which is created in us from our conception and remains dormant in us until we begin to pay attention to it. As we pay more and more attention to it and actually do what it suggests to us, then we begin to express our deeper, truer, unconditioned self and to move towards a purposeful and fulfilling life.
And then we come to the real relationship with God where God is truly first in our lives and He is leading us back to our true, real selves. We live in a partnership with God. I describe my relationship with Him like this: He’s the pilot of the airplane that is my life and I, the co-pilot. There’s a lot of back and forth between us, but I obey His counsel for me, because I know from 30+ years of experience that He knows far better than I what I need to do next and how to do it. And so I relax into His arms and let Him carry the burdens of my life, while I enjoy each day where He wants me to go.
I expect this processing of the buried experiences in me and in all of us to go on for a lifetime, maybe until the day we die. The Lord will suggest what needs to be brought before Him and how to do that. He, after all, is our guide in living this life in Him. He will tear down all the walls we built to protect ourselves, releasing the guilt and grief and shame, our burdens, along the way.
Freed of all that holds us back by confessing what is true about us, and no longer trying to hide all these things from ourselves, others and God, with God’s own transforming power at work, we are now whole and fulfilled by what God calls us to do.
Questions to ponder over the week: Do I stand naked before God, not hiding anything about myself? Can I embrace all that I am and offer that whole person, flawed as I am, up to God? Is confession a part of my daily prayer? Can I feel God’s transforming work in me as I lift these burdens—sin and pain and suffering, the truth about me–up to Him?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who invite God into every part of our lives. May we be able to acknowledge to others where we have fallen short. May we always stand in the truth.
An Invitation to All of Us to Pray for our nation: for mercy and compassion for all, for community values and a deep sense of caring for each other. For peace. For love to reign. For a return to the love of God. For us to have one nation under God” as our motto again. If many of us would pray these things for our country, we could change the world. Invite your friends and neighbors to pray with us. in love and faith, Pat
See the archives of this blog here on this page, sorted by date posted and by theme.
 Matthew 22:36-38, Mark 12:28-30, Luke 10:25-28
 1 Kings 19:12