Confession can take the pressure off ourselves and give an opportunity for harmony to come into our relationships.
Six things we need to learn about confession for our Mental Health.
‘I need help with my husband, wife, child, friend.’
I have an anonymous survey here on Turning the Page where people can share with me what they are struggling with. I don’t share what people write, but I do take notice and look for topics to write about. One of the most interesting trends I am seeing is the stress that comes about from the relationships we have.
The thought of living in harmony with others sounds idealistic and rather ignorant of the facts of just how terrible everyone else is and how perfect I am!
Paul in Romans writes these challenging words.
Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!
Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:16-18 (NLT)
A Word, an Action
Tough call, especially when you live with the people I know that you live with. People like me.
Is there a word or an action that if taken and applied would create a stage for harmony to sing.
There is a word, and you’re probably not going to like it.
It’s the word confession.
Before you go to the little X in the top right corner, just read a bit further because I want to explore this word more.
I’m going to confess to you that the first thing that comes to my mind with the word confession are words such as guilt, shame, judgement, punishment and rejection.
Definitely not an invitation to harmony.
Let’s look at that word confession a little closer.
Our English word for confession comes from the Latin word ‘Confiteri’ which means ‘to acknowledge’. The Greek word for “confess” is homologeo which means “to say the same thing”. In the Hebrew, the word for confess or acknowledge is yada’, which means “to know” or “to make known”.
The act of confession is about acknowledgement. Of expressing the reality of the situation. This is what I have done; this is who I am, this is what is going on inside of me, this is what I believe and profess.
Self-awareness is being aware of the self and who we truly are.
Harmony – to Say the Same Thing
The act of confession sets the stage for harmony to exist with others.
I’ve been in bands were one of the guitarists is out of tune or out of time. They are not in harmony with the other instruments. That guitarist has to acknowledge there is a problem, stop playing, tune up and then there will be harmony with others.
They may not hear it themselves, but others will and hopefully point it out. Confession says ‘I’m out of tune and I need to get in tune with others’.
In the same way all of us, at times, get out of tune or lose harmony with others and with God.
What we need to learn about confession
- We need to learn how to be safe with each other’s souls.
No try harder messages, no laying out the rules, nothing harsh. Yes, point out natural consequences, potential or real, but also commit to journeying with them regardless.
- One person’s confession should stimulate an examination of the soul in others.
Ever had that happen? Someone discloses something, and you immediately skip to a similar situation. Don’t run from it, run with it. Explore it and be honest, confessionally honest.
- Confession is about building relationships not keeping a set of rules.
The churches I have been in where they stress the rules rather than the relationship are pretty shallow places. They often cultivate a mask wearing culture of acceptability. Do you want some depth in your life? Then move from rules to relationship.
It takes a degree of humility to confess. To own where you have erred and missed the mark. To say ‘Me too, I am broken and flawed.’
Pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense. C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
- Fears associated with confession lose their power when others do it with you.
When I confess my weaknesses, I fear abandonment. That if others truly saw my nakedness and all my sins laid bare, then they would not want anything to do with me.
If being equally vulnerable with each other was part of our relational culture then perhaps a deeper harmony would sing.
- Confession releases the pressure.
The expression ‘That feels better, I’m glad I got that off my chest’ is about a weight being taken off that you have been carrying. A burden, a load, a pressure. It might be something that you have never shared. You have carried it for a lifetime. Guilt and shame piling down on you. When you can let it go, the relief floods in.
In good relationships we give and we take. We give room for people to be vulnerable and broken and we express love and forgiveness. Confessing our messes and helping others clean up theirs.
We give, and we take. We confess we forgive. We are humble, and we are welcoming.
Quotes to Consider
- Honesty leads to confession, and confession leads to change. Richard Foster. Celebration of Discipline
- A man who confesses his sins in the presence of a brother knows that he no longer alone with himself; he experiences the presence of God in the reality of the other person. As long as I am by myself in the confession of my sins everything remains in the dark, but in the presence of a brother the sin has to be brought into the light Dietrich Bonhoeffer Life Together
- The fear and pride which cling to us like barnacles cling to others also. We are sinners together. In acts of mutual confession, we release the power that heals. Our humanity is no longer denied but transformed. Richard Foster Celebration of Discipline
- Without the cross the Discipline of confession would be only psychologically therapeutic. But it is so much more. It involves an objective change in our relationship with God and a subjective change in us. Richard Foster Celebration of Discipline
- I want us to relate to one another, not as moralist to sinner or therapist to patient, but as saint to saint, father to child, friend to friend, as true lovers, with the confidence that we can help each other believe that, by the grace of God, there is something good beneath the mess. Even when all we can see is the mess, I want us to believe that we can nourish the good and encourage its release. Larry Crabb Connecting
Question to answer and leave a comment below or an anonymous comment here
- What is your greatest fear about practising confession?
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Image cc: Randy Jacob