Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession. –Mahatma Gandhi
Yesterday we went to church as we almost always do, hugging and greeting people as we came in, sitting on the same side as always. I didn’t grab a program when I walked in, but there was one in our pew. I looked at it and saw the subject of the sermon: confessing your guilt. That took me to a place where I didn’t want to be; that I didn’t want to remember. I usually take notes on the sermons, but I didn’t this time. Nor did I fully engage. I intentionally disconnected, because I didn’t want to hear it or feel it. But it really didn’t matter what I wanted. Just the topic itself had already uprooted in me ugly things that I knew couldn’t be buried anymore. Even still, I thought I could do what had worked in the past: I do something wrong. I justify it in my head. I pray about it. I let it go. I move on.
Last night, Ricks and I talked as we always do. She shared some stuff with me that caused me great anxiety–like anxiety that I could feel in every part of my body. Like, I felt nauseous kind of anxiety. I wasn’t anxious because of what she shared. In fact, I was feeling really proud of her and lots of admiration. I was anxious because what she shared reminded me that I couldn’t bury things. That sometimes, confessing to god is not enough. You need to go an extra step and confess things to people who you’ve wronged or hurt. So I decided to do that, because I knew it was the right thing to do. And I knew I needed to do it immediately, or I would rationalize not doing it. The details of those confessions are of no consequence for this post, but just know I did it. And it hurt. It forced me to a place of coming face to face with my humanity, my imperfections in ways that I had not before. I was reminded that my actions are not simply about me. They can cause great pain for others. I had to stop justifying things that I had done and give up this idea that I was “right,” when in fact, I wasn’t. I was completely wrong. wrong. wrong.
This morning I woke up with puffy eyes, a hacking cough, and a body that I had to will out of bed. Today is one of those not-so-good days when facing myself is really hard to do. Today is one of those days where I don’t want to look in the mirror. I don’t want to think about all the nice things people say about me. I don’t even want to think about the “good” things I do in this world. Today is not one of those warm and fuzzy days. It is not a time or space where I feel good. I can’t even say I want to feel good. It is a day where I want to punish myself for my shortcomings and the actions I’ve done that have ever hurt anyone.
But I know I can’t live life like that. I can’t punish myself everyday for something that god and the person I confessed to have already forgiven me for. The question is, will I forgive myself? At some point. I’m not ready yet. Right now I’m just sitting with myself–not trying to fix anything. Just sitting. Assessing how I’m feeling. what I’m thinking. What it means to be a beautiful mess of imperfections. I’m just sitting in all this. Tomorrow might be different, and I hope so. But today is one of those days where being gentle with myself is really hard. And even as I type this I’m thinking….perhaps the fact that I am giving myself the time to process is being gentle. Perhaps. I don’t really know. But what I do know is this: there are going to be times when you and I do things that are not nice, not right, not perfect. When those times happen, we’ll have to choose what to do with it. In particular cases, I chose to bury those things, because I didn’t want to face my own imperfections. Yesterday, I took a step toward undoing that. That was my choice. It hurt. It hurt someone else. But ultimately, if I say I value honesty, my life needs to reflect that even in times when others can’t see it. Sure, I could have possibly lived with this thing for the rest of my life, but it would have continued to be a road block to my growth and my freedom. I encourage you to search yourself. I implore you to consider whatever ways you might need to make amends with someone. Stop thinking that you’re “protecting” them by keeping whatever it is you’re holding on to. You’re not! And in fact, you’re not protecting yourself either. While you hold on tightly to that thing, you can’t embrace something else.
So….back to where I started. I confessed. I freed myself of guilt, and now i have to figure out what it means to forgive self…..”an ultimate expression of self love” as my roommate would say. I’m not giving myself a lot of love today, but thank god for people around me who do. Maybe tomorrow it will be different. I hope it will. I think it will. But today I was reminded that:
I am not a horrible person.
God has forgiven me.
The person has forgive me.
It’s ok to feel remorse.
It’s ok to feel sad.
It’s ok to be angry at myself.
It’s ok to forgive myself, even if I still feel all these emotions.
When I’m ready to stop feeling this way, it’s ok to let the feelings go.
Be kind to myself.
Be gentle with myself.
Thanks for reading. It is hard to share, but it is also necessary. I wanted to share from a place of imperfection and humility. I needed you to see this…and me.