It was when I confessed what I had done–and what I do–that I began to know Jesus for the first time. Growing up learning about him was one thing. Seeing his face? Hearing his voice? Feeling the Spirit’s heat burning from my insides?
Confessing to Jesus what I was loving more than him–in this case, my pride–led me to experiencing God rather than looking at him from a distance. Confession was letting God create space in my heart so I could experience Jesus living in me.
When we stuff down our sin, refuse to confess our sin to God, we say yes to pride. We say yes to our desire for independence and self-sufficiency. We say yes to everything our culture tells us is perfectly good, an example of strength and success: work hard; keep your head down and try harder when you fail; don’t let on you’re weak and you can’t get the job done on you’re own; don’t let anyone see you when you’re down.
You know who we’re listening to when we ignore God’s voice and respond to all the other voices that boom much louder, don’t you?
Oh, Jesus, I pray now that you silence the voice of the enemy right now. For everyone reading these words right now, silence his voice; make his whispers unable to be heard by our hearts. Let us hear just your voice. Let us recognize you and say yes to you, with wide-open hearts.
We shout to that distant God up there, somewhere in heaven, “I’m good! I’ve got this covered. No room for you!” And we remain feeling alone. And God keeps feeling distant. And we work harder to live our lives well, whatever that really means.
To do this, to say yes to the Holy Spirit filling us, to say yes to Jesus living in us, we must confess all the ways we are trying to live without God, all the things we’ve kept hidden, all the things we’ve tried to fix in ourselves, on our own, all the things of which we are ashamed, all the things we’d much rather forget than ever, ever address.
Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help (Hebrews 4:16, MSG).
It was in college when I–a lonely, overwhelmed transfer student in a new, big school–that I first confessed my sins to Jesus. I was tired of keeping secrets, tired of pretending to have it all together; tired of praying to a God that felt so very far away and not at all like a God who was with me, in me, wanting to whisper love to my heart.
For me, there was a particular secret that I was working hard to hide from everyone. And Jesus was asking me to give it up.
And some of you here, reading? I know you have secrets too. You have things to confess, ways that you’ve been trying to fix yourself, things that happened in the past (whether the past could have been years ago or just a few minutes ago) of which you are ashamed.
If we claim that we’re free of sin, we’re only fooling ourselves. A claim like that is errant nonsense. On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing. If we claim that we’ve never sinned, we out-and-out contradict God—make a liar out of him. A claim like that only shows off our ignorance of God (1 John 1:9).
Can you give it up now? Whether this is the first time you’ve confessed your heart to God, or if this is your thousandth, can we do this together, kneeling together before our God and asking him to show us what it is that we’ve been keeping from him?
Go to a quiet place and close your eyes. Ask him to search your heart, to put his hand on the one place in your heart right now he would like to claim. What moment still feels heavy? What situation have you been trying to fix? What memory still haunts you? What burden are you carrying, this moment, that brings you to tears? In what area are you trying to be strong, on your own? What relationship is causing you pain?
Now, here’s an extra challenge–and you don’t need to do this at all. But, if you feel your heart beating fast and your chest all hot and you are feeling like you want to step forward even more, trusting Jesus in community around you, would you be bold enough to type up the confession, on the blog’s comments page, right here?
Or, if that feels like just too much–and I love that a lot of you do this–would you feel like typing up the confession and sending it just to me? Because then we can pray for each other and for God’s continued protection of us and our hearts as we confess. It can be a beautiful yet vulnerable place when we confess to our God. We are letting go of the old self and asking him to bring more of his new life in us.
Now, if you do this, there will be opposition. Those other whispers we talked about earlier? Yes, well, Satan is not going to want to have you confess a thing. And if you do, he isn’t going to want you to feel good about it. He is going to want you to feel alone and crummy and afraid and doubtful it was ever a good idea in the first place.
So, together, let’s do the opposite of what we’ve been doing before.
Let’s not hide. Let’s speak aloud our confessions to our God and imagine we are here, in a circle together, doing it together before our God. I know I would be emboldened by your confession. I would be reassured. I would see Jesus in you when you went ahead, saying yes to Him and no to the whispers of the enemy who are telling you to do exactly the opposite.
So, how about it, sister?
Are you with me?
I’ll go first (and here is the confession from that day in college):
Father, I confess I love myself more than I love most anyone else–and not in a good way–not that good kind of love, that true love you speak of when you say we can only love other people as much as we love ourselves. You see, I actually don’t like myself very much most of the time–and in my feelings of ineptitude, I focus a lot on me, on self-preservation, thinking I am the one who has to stand in the gap of what I think I need and what I think I want. For I forget who you are. I forget you are love. I forget you are everything. I forget I am your daughter. I forget I am your heir. I forget you have given me everything. I forget I am with you now, seated with you, made to rule and reign. I forget I need you more than anything else. I forget I have everything I need to live a life of love and truth and hope and joy. Please forgive me. Take this heart of mine–the ways it is hard–and soften it. Bring peace where I am anxious. Bring light to this dark. I love you. I love you. I love you. Because you love me. You love me. You love me. Thank you. I am in your arms now. Help me to stay here–where I belong, where I truly want to be. In your name, Jesus, Amen.
For the Loop Poetry Project this week, consider relating an incident of confession–and try to focus on something you’ve personally experienced that you haven’t previously put into words. This poem doesn’t have to be in the same vein as a confession of sin, but it can be if you feel like that is where the poem wants to go.
As you write, dig into the experience so that it feels like you are reliving it, even as you search for words. For instance, share a memory, and then explore it on a deeper level so that by the end of the poem you are realizing a truth previously hidden from you. Or, perhaps, write as if you are telling a confession to yourself.
By the end of your writing the poem, you want to be feeling a different emotion or having a different opinion than you did at the beginning of writing it. Take yourself on a journey. Honor the direction the words invite you to take. Notice the twists and turns, the surprises. And then take note of what has happened within you by the time the poem says it is finished…and you have arrived. What has happened–what is happening–within you now?
Consider sharing your poems below and/or on social media using the hashtag #looppoetryproject. Or share your experience writing this week. You can also join in on the fun as part of the private Facebook group. My poem is below.
Everything in the Beginning
We lived in an apartment built for two,
a little box we filled with a wooden chest
my grandparents crafted with their hands,
two blue metal folding chairs, and a
kitchen clock we hung too high on the wall.
We ate boxed pasta with lots of salt—
and in the fall you made apple cider
in our kitchen with a pair of cut up
pantyhose pulled from an egg-shaped
plastic container we bought from the
tiny corner supermarket with sticky jars
and dusty shelves.
Your dad visited us once but no friends
and my parents never came either,
to watch us build a life across the country
and over two thousand miles from home.
We liked believing we could fill up
every space within each other so there
was never lack while there was always
—a wishing for more.