Yesterday, a friend said to me: “Can I confess something to you?”
“Uh, yeah. Of course.”
Her confession was of a sin that many of us struggle with – the desire for fame for ourselves that battles with our desire for fame for God. It’s not an uncommon fight. I could relate, and we talked for a while about our struggle, and what the Bible says about it. Mostly, it felt good to both of us just to get it out there; to say, “Listen, I’m going to be honest, I’ve been thinking something lately that I know I shouldn’t be thinking.” Saying it out loud is also admitting that it’s a problem, instead of internally justifying it.
Confession is one of those things that often feels horrible before you do it, and liberating afterward. There are some things I’ve confessed to my husband – thoughts I’ve had, things I’ve said – that I dreaded saying out loud. It hurts to say I was wrong, to admit I’m imperfect. And it’s always awkward to hear my shaky Southern accent admit to things I’ve blatantly done wrong.
Although I’m painfully aware that I need God’s grace, the perfectionist in me is constantly railing against that Truth. But admitting it – saying, “I suck at this.” – is freeing. Recently I confessed to Simon and to God that I have been entirely too proud about my writing. I am oversensitive, I crave the approval of man, and, although I had asked someone for criticism, I was devastated when I received it instead of the praise I was so desperately desiring. I felt stupid saying out loud that my pride had gotten the best of me…but the great thing about confession is that, as soon as you’ve done it, the change begins.
Psalm 32 says:
1 Oh, what joy for those whose rebellion is forgiven,
whose sin is put out of sight!
2 Yes, what joy for those
whose record the Lord has cleared of sin, whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
Living our lives “in complete honesty” brings joy, and confession is the beginning of healing.
Someone close to me once confessed to an addiction that no one else knew of. The fear of judgement – from her parents, her friends, the church – had kept her from admitting her struggle earlier, but things had finally gotten to the point where she just couldn’t take it anymore. She needed help; she needed someone to share her burden. She is now healed of that addiction(and has been for two years!), and I believe that confession was the beginning of her healing process. Our subsequent prayers – passionate, pleading – were the next step. God wants us to confess our sins to him(1 John 1:9), but it is also good for us to confess our sins to each other.
James 5: 14-16 says:
14Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven.16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
The enemy is called the Prince of Darkness for a reason: he thrives in darkness. He convinces us to keep our secrets, but darkness and secrecy are breeding grounds for shame. It is only when we bring our sin – our mistakes, our addictions, our brokenness – into the Light that we can begin to be freed from it.