I miss confession. Okay, big “C”. Confession. The sacrament, the institution. Sitting directly across from another living human being and admitting the exact nature of my shortcomings to someone else. Hearing with my own ears a voice assuring me, “Your sins have been forgiven,” and knowing that it was true.
There are all kinds of theological arguments as to why Confession isn’t practiced (largely) outside the Catholic Church, but those arguments aren’t interesting to me right now.
My soul is immensely interested, however, in being honest with itself, and being honest with someone else, about who I am and why I am and where I’m falling short.
Given the immense popularity of sites like Postsecret, where anonymous strangers post incredibly moving (and shocking) secrets for any and all to see, given the near-“religious” experience which many attendees report experiencing when they attend a Postsecret live event…I am speculating that the need to confess our secrets, our shortcomings, our sins, is inherent to our makeup as men and women, and necessary for our spiritual survival.
I will never forget the first time I attended a 12-step group. In the dark church sanctuary on a January evening, free filtered coffee in hand (which also demonstrates we have stereotypes for a reason), the concept of the “First Step” was introduced to me. And what was it? The thing which enables a fallen creature to begin the long, slow climb out of dependency or addiction? Confession.
Why is the church, then, doing such a terrible job instructing Christ-followers on how to “do” confession? Just because the non-Catholic world does not practice Confession as a sacrament…doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be. I am getting very, very fed up with sitting in church services where I’m told that I’m a “sinner,” according to their definition…but given no practical instruction on what to do with that information other than “trust Jesus.”
Well, despite that rather unhelpful and flippant advice…I do trust Jesus. Not because of that pithy throw-away, but because what Jesus has done to me time and again is to grab me by the neck and force me into the mud of myself, force me to make full accounting of who I am and my very darkest nature, and say:
“Deal with THIS. Because I love you.”
Give me a church that routinely shows me THAT Jesus, and teaches us how to reveal that Jesus to one another.