If you’re reading this, I’m proud of you for making it this far. With a title like this one, I would’ve understood if you had just passed over it. I considered changing the title to something funny or ambiguous so that I could get more clicks. I thought about drawing readers in and then pulling a bait and switch with the topic reveal. But alas, I clearly went in a different direction.
The truth is that confession and repentance are two things we don’t enjoy talking about. I suspect that if we better understand what they mean, we would have no problem shouting about them from the rooftops.
But before we talk about what confession and repentance are, let’s talk about what they aren’t. Though I was never Catholic, these words almost immediately conjure the mental image of a confessional. I imagine myself ducking into the itty bitty room and telling a priest all of my issues followed by him giving me instructions to say 5 “Hail Mary’s” and spin around 3 times (or however that works).
The second image these words bring to mind is a fiery preacher or televangelist wearing an ugly, ill-fitting, and over-priced suit yelling at me from a gaudy stage. His face is red and his finger is pointing as he beats me up about my mistakes. Then in a grand flourish of flailing arms and rising pitch he commands me to “Repent!”
But neither of those fully encompass what either of these words mean. In fact, they detract from the power of confession and repentance and the unbelievable freedom that can be found therein.
In 12-step Programs like Celebrate Recovery or Alcoholics Anonymous, people have put themselves in the position to experience the freedom that can only come from confession and repentance. I’ve never been through AA, so I can’t speak for that experience, but here are the steps of Celebrate Recovery:
Step 5: We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Step 6: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
These steps were incredibly difficult but they are so freeing!
Confession and repentance forced me to come face to face with myself. One of my issues is that I put on a facade of perfection because I don’t want to be human, I don’t want to make mistakes, I don’t want to be fallible–in essence, I want to be God. But during these steps, I became incredibly aware of my humanity and that’s a good thing.
These humbling steps allowed me to shatter my view of myself as perfect and forced me to open up to another human, expressing just how imperfect I am. The best part is that they already knew I was human–they’re in a relationship with me, so they’re well aware of my flaws, but this part of the process impacted me greatly. The process of taking my dirt, the things I so desperately tried to hide for so many years, and airing it to myself, God, and a trusted human was so freeing.
I highly recommend you try confession and repentance for yourself and see how God moves in your life!
What do confession and repentance mean to you?
How do you live out confession and repentance daily?
To go Deeper: Lessons Learned in the Dentist’s Chair Part 1, Responding to Guilt
Thank you for differentiating the two! Many often equate them.
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