Monday, September 30, 2013
I started confessing my sins at a fairly young age, around 12. I remember the first time, I started to feel incredibly guilty of something that I'd been carrying around for awhile. I went to the bishop as soon as sacrament meeting was over, already tearing up, and told him I had to talk to him. He set up a meeting with me right after the rest of our church meetings were over. Finally, I went into his office and told him how I felt about certain things I'd done. He helped me work through what I was dealing with on the most basic of levels, but when I left his office I felt amazing. I could be forgiven, and everything could be made better.
Looking back, what I was confessing wasn't very serious. But it established a certain expectation, a conditioned response within me: when I felt bad about something I'd done, I needed to talk to someone about it. Growing up in the Church only reinforced that response.
I don't think I'm alone with this confessional streak. Society has an entire, well-paid profession devoted to listening to the confessions of others. I don't think it's bad either, but I do think that sometimes we overdo it. In fact, I think that confessions can be very healthy. That's the whole point of a blog, isn't it?
Confessions are healthy because they establish a rapport with someone else. They allow someone else to share the burden with you, someone to share your secrets and understand what you are going through. However, confessions also give that person a kind of power over you, which is why it's so important to choose wisely who you confess to.
Professionals can seem like a good idea because they have a professional obligation to treat you with neutrality and extensive training. Religious leaders can seem like a good idea because they carry a special type of authority over our lives. Sometimes, though, I think the very best type of person you can confess things to is a friend. Someone you know will always be on your side, and who wants the best for you.
I've tried avoiding confessions by lying, and I've tried avoiding confessions by telling everybody absolutely everything. By trying to be completely honest about everything, I hoped that my secrets would lose their power over me. However, it didn't really work that way.
I think the major reason I believe confessions are healthy is because they force me to admit that I can't do everything myself. When I'm forced out of myself, when I'm forced to ask for help, and get this cracked, broken feeling. Sometimes I think that's what it means to have a broken heart. I think it's kind of like being a lobster that's grown to big for his skin. He has to break out, which I imagine can be quite painful, and then he runs around with his nerves sensitive to everything for awhile, avoiding anything that could cause his nerves to scream at him until his soft shell hardens and he is once again capable of facing the world.
But anyways, confessions seem healthy because they force me to rely on a power other than myself. I believe in Christ, and I believe that his is the power that I'm relying on when I'm feeling cracked open and exposed.