In my early years as a Christian, confession wasn’t exactly something we did much. It was usually limited to situations where we felt we’d done something really bad. It was the sort of thing we imagined Christians in other traditions were all about. We didn’t want to wallow in negativity. We wanted to be positive and do good things instead. Who wouldn’t?
Now, in my Anglican tradition, confession is an important element of our weekly gathering in community and even our daily engagement in prayer. It is now a welcome way to be in the presence of God.
Instead of being the bad news I imagined it was early in my spiritual journey, confession is good news. I don’t need to hide anything from God. (I can’t hide anything from God anyway. This is the main reason I shouldn’t bother trying!).
Confession isn’t rehearsing everything that is bad about us. When we confess, we are simply telling things as they are. We do so in the presence of a God who delights to show mercy (Micah 7:18), who longs to be gracious (Isaiah 30:18), and who loves us well before we confess or act in ways that invite confession.
In confession, we can remember that our lives are more graced than we imagine. Hiding, denial and pretending are what trap and confine us. There is grace that would empower us to more kingdom-fruitful ways of living. What a gift!
And so, as I titled this post, confession is simply walking in the light of reality. I really have done and said things I wish I hadn’t done and said. I really have failed to do and say things I wish I had done and said. The way forward to growing in courage and goodness is to bring these things into the light of God’s presence.
God can transform in me what needs it. God can heal what is broken, but it must come into the light. When I go to the doctor, I don't hide what’s wrong. Otherwise, she can’t help me much. And so we acknowledge the ways we need mercy and grace when we confess our shortcomings and line-crossings.
In these isolating days of COVID-19 quarantining and other limitations we are facing, being profoundly honest in the presence of God could be a place of great grace for us. Find a way to take some steps into praying a little more honestly and openly in the presence of God’s measureless love.