We’ve been talking in our Lent Devotional for Women about focusing our efforts on loving more and better. And I don’t know about you, but as much as I try, I fail! Seriously, like every day. So I keep reminding myself, I’m going to fail, not just today, but for the rest of my life. This reminding keeps me from falling into despair.
So what happens when I don’t love more or better? When I fail, despite my best efforts, or my selfishness or my laziness? Then what? Confession. Ouch right!? Why is the thought of confession so painful? In today’s Lent Devotional for Women post, I’m asking that very question.
“…the soul must occupy itself with sorrow for its sins because they offend God, who is infinite Goodness. This should be a sorrow ex amore, springing from love, the repentance of a child who is more disconsolate over the displeasure given to a father who loves it so much and to whom it should return love for love, than over the thought of its guilt and the punishment it deserves.” (Divine Intimacy)
So the first question to ask ourselves is, am I afraid of confessing my sins because I’m afraid of what God will think of me?
Ponder that for a minute. By accusing ourselves and confessing our sins, we are basically splayed wide open showing God our everything…good, bad, ugly, faulty, sinful. Let me tell you two things about that. First, He already knows. God already knows everything about us. He created us. It would be like a child coming to us covered in chocolate frosting hoping we didn’t notice their messy face and the missing cake. We already know right? Second, one of the definitions for splay(ed)–become wider or more separated. Oh my goodness ya’ll! Let’s look at that for a minute.
“To become wider,” Friends, I do not want to live a narrow life. The narrower my life, the less room for God. And then, “to become separated.” What exactly are we separating ourselves from in confession? Sin!
One more thing about the words, splay(ed), it comes from Middle English (in the sense ‘unfold to view, display’): shortening of the verb display. OK, let’s consider “unfold to view.” Let’s say I’m sick, a doctor confirmed sick, not just internet self-diagnosed, ahem. The doctor refers me to a surgeon to make me well. Is the surgeon going to have to see me first before he can heal me? Of course! I mean he is going to have to see every nook and cranny inside and out if he and I have any intention of making me well.
Or how about so many of us who have gone through labor and delivery? If we are not literally unfolded and literally in plain view then, I don’t know when else in life we are. And it’s in that time and place when there is a bringing forth of new life right? Do you see? Are you following?
Let’s quickly consider that quote above from the devotional Divine Intimacy. I’ll be honest, I’m not at that point in the spiritual life where I always have that type of sorrow that springs from love. Sometimes sure. But sometimes not, and that’s ok.
Sometimes being afraid of the pain of punishment is enough. And someday, please God, those of us who aren’t there yet, will get to the point where fear of displeasing God because we love Him so much will outweigh the fear of punishment.
This Lent Devotional for Women is all about trying to love more and better and as we’ve all heard before, love is a choice. If I only confessed my sins when my heart broke because I realized I didn’t return love for Love, right now, my confessions would decrease in the frequency; that’s just an honest fact. Instead, I continue my frequent confessions, making a willful choice because I want to love more and better and even be like Love.
If I make frequent confession a habit, monthly at the least, every other week at the best, my love will strengthen. I will become more like what or Who I am spending time trying to imitate and grow in closer friendship with. Does that make sense? If I confess my sins frequently, by choice, out of love for God, I will become more like the Love of God.
First, going to confession only when I “feel” like it, because of guilt most likely, well, that isn’t love, it’s fear. Fear of God or man. There’s nothing wrong with going out of fear by the way. But as with all things, there is a good, better, best.
When I go whether I “feel” like it or not, that’s an act of the will, that’s love in a certain sense…better. Eventually, my soul will grow in closer friendship with Christ, becoming more in tune with my lack of love for Him and others, thus my sins. My confessions will become out of sorrow for not loving more or better and less out of fear of punishment.
Click here for all the Lent Devotional for Women posts.
Here is a post where I share a homemade examen we have used with our children. It’s completely applicable for adults as well.