A few days ago, I came across this article on tumblr: http://lifeteen.com/my-side-of-the-confessional-what-is-it-like-for-a-priest/
As the title suggests, this is an article by a priest who sheds some light about his experiences during confession. I was not expecting the kind of impact this article had on me.
Usually when I’m contemplating confession, I always get freaked out. All sorts of anxiety builds up and I psych myself out to both talk myself into and out of going to confession. It’s just so scary. I’m always afraid that I’ll forget my sins, not say enough, be really stupid and awkward, and if it’s a priest I knew, that he would look at me a bit weird after my confession. Then I would have to make myself feel better, thinking that the priest has probably heard worse, and I can’t possibly be that bad… After confession I don’t always feel that overwhelming sense of relief. I used to think that something was wrong with me, that I didn’t do my confession/penance right. It wasn’t until I asked a trusted friend (who I thought was definitely at a different level in faith than me) if she had always felt that feeling. She said no, and I felt relieved.
I think that’s how I felt the first time I read this article. It gave me a whole new perspective about the process.
I learned that being sorry for my sins is the equivalent to the priest rejoicing for the miracle that someone is trying to be closer to God by letting go of these sins that weigh them down. The priest doesn’t remember my sins so I shouldn’t hold back. Why should he remember that? Fr. Mike says that sins are like garbage and priests are the garbage men. They won’t remember the kinds of stuff they see all the time and once they get used to taking the trash out it’s not noteworthy anymore.
The most important thing that I’ve learned is that this whole time I was making everything about me. How I would feel, about saving face in front of someone I knew, about getting it right with the intent of doing it correctly, not fully committing to the sacrament. With all of these thoughts it was like I was forgetting to mention one of the most important things to the priest: pride. Pride is the hardest sin to forgive, because pride won’t let you break yourself down to ask for forgiveness. It keeps the walls up that stand between you and God. So approaching confession in the way I used to is like only knocking down half of the wall. This isn’t about me, it’s about letting God in during our most vulnerable, so we can be strengthened in His love. Our spiritual garbage for some undying, unconditional love? Sounds like a great deal! Looks like I’m due for a spring cleaning soon.
Although I personally can’t understand why I can’t always “let go and let God”, I feel like things are changing. I’m learning to let myself go to let Him in, whether it’s in a spat with a complicated friendship, or a simple article on an addictive blog site. It’s only February and I see that God has answered my prayers of giving more opportunities to be closer to Him. I guess you can say that my spiritual side is going through a gradual reawakening into a more mature faith. Now with what I’ve learned, I’m ready to take on Lent and continue to prune away the unnecessary, and to gain in strength what I find in weakness and vulnerability.
It’s time to “sacrifice who I am for who I’m meant to be”. As the priest said in the homily on Sunday, we are a people called to become.