Becoming Vulnerable: The Power of Confession

photo by g_sinchon

Draw near to God, and God will draw near to you. - James 4:8

There was a time two summers ago that was nothing out of the ordinary, yet it’s remained in my memory ever since: I had been in a funk—those seasons that inevitably settle upon you for one reason or another. I knew what I needed to do (draw near to God) but my heart just wasn’t in it.

Instead, I decided to meet up with a friend, where I just let it all out. I kept talking and confessing everything that was burdening me and holding me down. And it was in that moment, in that conversation of releasing everything pit up–as hard or lame as some of it is to admit–the weight was lifted.

In Lauren Winner’s book, “Girl Meets God” she talks about how she started going to see a priest routinely to confess her sins, even though she’s not Catholic. She talks about how it’s in God’s nature to take the ordinary and everyday and use it to purify us and draw us closer to him: water gives us new birth in baptism; bread reminds us of the price Jesus paid and brings us close to him in the Eucharist; and God also draws us closer to him when we confess our sins–to ordinary people, just like each and every one of us.

Our inclination is to bottle up our imperfections and smudge over them so no one can tell. Or if we do tell, we tell people who will have the right answers or perhaps the people who are worse off than ourselves. But we don’t want to risk tarnishing our image or our reputation. So our sins cower deep inside. But when we become vulnerable and break down walls and open up about our shortcomings, especially to other ordinary, broken individuals, a surprising bit of healing can come through that.

And that’s what happened on that seemingly insignificant Wednesday, as my friend and I sipped Starbucks and sat on a curb in the parking lot and just talked. As we talked, I could feel my funk lifting, my heart getting inflated again and swelling back up. I came home that night, renewed…

Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you will be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:16

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  1. Such a timely post thank you! I will say it is one thing that draws me to the Catholic services, is their routine or "normalization" of confessing. In my born again Churches I have only ever heard someone admit a sin once (and instantly said "but God forgives" which took away from the magnitude of what he was admitting!). I try to make sure I confess each time I pray, or at least take one good prayer a day to confess my sins. It does draw you nearer to Him as you can see just how weak you are. I would love, if Christians, confessed their sins more openly! Love that (James 4:8) will have to put it in the scripture memory group I run, which you'd be welcome to join if you'd like!

  2. Oh, that would be great! I'd love to join. I used to be more consistent/challenging myself to memorize verses, but have since let that fall by the wayside for the most part. (By the way, James 5:16 was one of the first verses I did memorize, and one of my favorites!!)

  3. What a great post! I am Catholic, and I must say I cannot describe the peace and joy that fills my heart each time I go to confession. The Lord knows we are spiritual and natural beings and that we need to physically, out-loud, express our wrong-doings. Otherwise they just fester inside. Confession is such a new beginning, a starting point to begin again. Thanks for sharing!


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