The sun is shining, and it makes me smile. Not only because of the natural beauty, but because of the fact that I now know I can truly enjoy it. Thinking of the journey to this place makes me think of confession and the benefits and fears behind it. It does not have to be thought of with the idea of admitting fault and awaiting condemnation. There can be peace and comfort coming from confession if approached in the right frame of mind.
Confession is often thought of admitting guilt in order to be punished. To accept fault and to receive the consequences from said wrong. However, I think we are doing a disservice to confession when we perceive it this way. It is time to look at it as a chance to put things out in the open and to purge the soul of guilt and sorrow. It gives the possibility of starting anew.
A new start, beginning to start life with what can feel like a clean slate, seems impossible. With confession with honesty has the ability to do this. Working with my sponsor, I thought l things were just going to be about me learning how not to drink, but found out very quickly I was wrong. We came to a point where I realized we had come to a point at which I had to be honest with myself and be willing to confront my flaws and shortcomings. These things that I had been running from for so many years that in some cases I was not even sure if I knew what the truth was any more. Yet these were the same things that were causing me to drink. I realized that I was at a crossroad; I could run away from the truth and continue drinking or I could face the truth and confess my faults.
To confess meant that I could no longer hide, and to drink meant that I would lose even more than I had already lost in my life. Which was more important was the decision that had to be made. There was no other option out there. To confess my faults meant that I could no longer hide behind the idea that people thought I was a good person, it meant that I would have to truly say that I had been lying to the world. Talk about being a scary proposition! I never had to approach life in a truly honest way. No one had truly asked me what was going on and where had I been wrong in my actions and for me to answer without reservation, and I fought this hard. To do this would be a life changer and was not sure if I was ready to do it, but at the same time I kept thinking, “What do I have to lose?”
So, there I was spilling out truth. Laying all of the horribleness on the table and waiting to see what happened. Would I be laughed at? Would I be judged? Would I still be welcomed? I did not know what to expect. The strange thing however was the more the truth came out the more I wanted to share. The feeling of letting go of this stuff from deep inside that took so much energy to hide and hold on to was starting to disappear. My sponsor listened to me, gave words of encouragement, and offered words of advice when necessary (especially when I was being too hard on myself). There were things that I was doing out selfish behaviors, things that I was doing to protect my finances, and other things just done out of made up fears, but each of them caused relational issues that caused me to drink.
After the process, I was sitting there with my heart of hearts being bared and not sure where things were going to go from there, I still found myself at a peace that I had not known previously. I was no longer living my life alone, but had shared my life with someone else and had not died from shame or embarrassment. In fact, found love and support in way that I could never imagine what was out there. In this, I learned a few things that I would like to share with you that I truly believe can change the way we view confessions of sins and faults within relationships and even within religious settings.
For the one listening to the confessions:
1. This is not a time to pass judgment.
2. Listen with an open heart and mind.
3. Be patient.
4. Don’t be quick to respond.
For the one giving the confession:
1. Choose someone you trust.
2. Be completely honest.
3. Don’t give excuses or rationalizations for your actions.
Once the confession is over:
1. Pray together.
2. Agree to accountability check-ups.
In James chapter 5 and verse 16, we are told to confess our sins to one another and to pray that we can be healed. Through my experience, I do not believe that this healing is so much on the physical side of things, but being mentally healed. The guilt and shame that you carry around trying to hide your sins causes so much pain and exhaustion that when the confession and prayer does come it does feel as though you are healed from something.
I encourage all of you to open your hearts to listen and to confess that we are no longer hiding from ourselves, but helping one another. Life is too great to be traversed alone. Doing it with our fellow man who loves and cares for us can bring about contentment and perhaps happiness.