Sunday, June 12, 2016

Confession and Me

I want to be good. Not because I am a perfectionist, but because with utter clarity, I remember my mother kneeling with me and teaching me to pray for forgiveness when I was a toddler. And she cried--at my sins. That emblazoned upon my soul how what I did not only hurt me, but my sins hurt others. How could I go around hurting my precious, angelic mother?

And my personality-type clings to the generosity and promise of the Confession booth. Oh, how I love confession.

Because I absolutely, sincerely never want to sin, when I do, I tend to fall to my knees immediately and ask God's forgiveness. I want that dirty, icky, stain of sin off me immediately. So when I go to Confession, the feelings of deep sorrow, embarrassment, the feeling of humility or regret are usually long past. 

Yet, I understand that even if my sins have already been confessed straight to God, something miraculous happens in the Rite of Reconciliation. There is a divine and powerful grace that is given to me that I may be victorious when tempted in these areas again. 
I need the power and grace of the sacrament. And I love it. 

The day before I go, I begin praying God will call to memory the sins I want to confess. I jot them down so I won't forget. Then, waiting in  the confession line, I am more earnest in my prayers of facing myself, seeing myself through His eyes. And all of a sudden, I notice myself attempting to excuse my sins. More for my own uncomfortableness than God's. The more honest I am with the deep selfishness and pride I discover in those moments, the more I recoil at myself. 

Through His grace, those vulnerable moments  are becoming less and less protected by excuses. I pray God will give me the courage to refrain from whitewashing the dark tomb I look down with, "Hey, I'm only human," or "I don't think it was a big deal," or "Everyone does it." 

Christ knows my heart better than I do. I can't fool nor hide from His intimate knowledge of my sincerity or culpability. He knows how hard I try and how deeply I love Him. So, I lay it all bare without excuse. 
Then, that moment...... the Act of Contrition, I never fail to sob. In fact, my eyes are so full of tears, I have to stop and pull myself together and wipe my eyes so I can see to read the rest of the prayer. (I don't have it memorized, so I always try to take a copy of it with me.)
O my God,
I am heartily sorry for
having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins,
because I dread the loss of heaven,
and the pains of hell;
but most of all because
they offend Thee, my God,
Who are all good and
deserving of all my love.

I firmly resolve,
with the help of Thy grace,
to confess my sins,
to do penance,
and to amend my life.

"You who are all good and deserving of my love." How can I say get such a line while kneeling in front of the Father without breaking down with emotion?

 So why is it so emotional? For me, confession strips me of my identity as the good girl! I am a rule keeper. My greatest sins usually have nothing to do with what I have done, though there are those things but the sins within my heart. 

What is so painful is that I must hear myself say aloud my failures. I am forced into reality.
When I wanted so badly to be perfect and wanted to hide my humanness from everyone else, my facade is stripped. I am left sitting there, infinitely tiny and defeated by the world.

God shows me that I am so much more sinful than I can imagine. In fact, I would give up in utter despair and commit suicide if I were left to see the darkness of my sins through His eyes without His aid in bearing it. For no sin is minor. Each of my tiniest sins put Jesus on the Cross. Oh God, to see that is more than a human can bear. 

For I am a child of Eve, submerged in the filth of sin. Bathed in a system that teaches me to be selfish. Indoctrinated from the time I was born to pursue my own desires. Force fed that I have a God-given right to pursue money, fame and power--that my life is given meaning by how successful I am at making my dreams come true, even if it means focusing only upon myself and dividing myself from others who love me. I am told I am more valued if I am young, thin, beautiful, highly educated, snarky and sarcastic. 

That I deserve to be accepted without questioning anything I do, that I should avoid people or environments that upset or irritate me. And that I should avoid upsetting others with the truth, remain silent and passive when encountering grave injustices with a pseudo-righteous excuse of non-violence, tolerate everything without judgment, mind my own business.

My world view has been forged in the fires of the hellacious spiritual seduction that I have a God-given right to decide for myself what is right and wrong, true and false. Except when it comes to the world's sins of environmental and animal injustice. Then I can be as obnoxious and hateful as I wish to be when I fight for these values. 

I have been told to have as much fun as possible, give into my weaknesses so that I do not experience difficulty or even uncomfortableness. And in the end, I should refuse to feel shame nor regrets as long as I am forging my own destiny with relentless individualism. The only thing worth suffering for is that pursuit of your dream. 
Therefore, my heart, mind and soul was cultivated and fed in the soil of this sickness. In fact, my mind is so small and steeped in sin, that I am unable to recognize my own stains. And in confession, that moment of clarity comes to me. And it hurts because I am ugly with sin. I am infinitely ugly.

I hate my stains. I wish to be clean. 

Then the words are spoken by the priest that Christ absolves me. I am washed in His word and I am clean. That moment, the moment I didn't even fully realize I needed, for I was walking around not seeing myself through His eyes. In that precious moment, I am clean. All of heaven and the eyes of the Most Holy one see me as perfect. The weight of the sin that God had allowed me to experience, so suddenly grown thick and deep and heavy when seen through His eyes is lifted. And supernaturally, I clearly see the New Me who walks out of that confessional booth. I am infinitely perfect. And I will cling to this beauty as long as I can. His grace has made me whole. 

Thank you God for Confession. 

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