Guilt and Confession with Joan of Arcadia

Thank goodness Joan is back. I was going through serious withdrawl. Since I have an aversion to church where else am I supposed to be challenged theologically? *hee, hee* just kidding dad, ok not totally kidding 😛

The topic of the day is confession.

“It’s not about feeling bad, confession is a sacrament used to celebrate God’s limitless capacity to forgive. He knew we’d feel guilty all the time, so he gave us a way to deal with it.” Lily to Helen about the “sacrament of confession, which is outward sign of inward grace.”

As protestants we don’t put too much emphasis on confession. We like to quietly go before God lest other people find out how broken we really are. As a child I was taugh 1 John 1:9 – If we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. But somehow in my head that got tied to conversion, you do that at the beginning of your walk with God. Then the rest of the time you just try to be good and not sin.

I never even thought to share with others where I was struggling. I couldn’t image admitting to another person where I was failing in my walk with God. It was instead a very solitary existance, most of the time I think I shut out God too. Knowing full well that he was all-knowing and ever-present I chose to live in denial.

“Guilt is the spiritual equivalent of physical pain. Like pain, things go horribly wrong when we ignore it. It’s not enough to just confess. It only works when its accompanied by change.” Priest to Helen about not wanting to lose her friend Lily if she and Kevin break up.

I am the queen of guilt. But instead of confessing to receive grace, understanding and mercy I like to keep the pain to myself and spiral down into my own private hell. Why I chose to live with perpetual pain instead of seeking forgiveness and freedom, I have no idea. It seems so simple when I put it like that. But yet in the moment I am so ashamed, or I just don’t think its that big a deal, so why does anyone need to know. Yet deep in my soul I crave to return to innocence. I want to be pure. I want my character to change, I want to be more like God.

Innocence is more than absence of guilt, its about having faith that there’s goodness in the face of cruelty and pain. Someplace you still feel that way. that’s me, and I’ll always be there.” God to Joan about pain.

Life is full of pain, mistakes, failure, rejection along with the beautiful, redemptive, amazing, fun and crazy. You have to experience the highs and lows. yet the joy of that is that we are not alone. Just as we need people to make the highs highers we need people to be with us in the depths of our loneliness, fear, and pain. When we can be open with each other about everything then life is richer and more abundant.

That is so much easier said than done. I still struggle with hiding and wearing a mask that everything is ok. I am so grateful to have friends that know me and can call me out on my crap. That is a gift. But I had to take the risk and let them into who I really am so they could recognize it when they see it.

Confession is good for the soul. It’s not about proving how awful you are. It’s about being on the journey to being whole.

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Posted on April 2, 2005, in Pop Culture, Spiritual Formation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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