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Confession is good for the soul

At least according to Ruth Barton at The Transforming Center! In an article, Practicing Lent: True Confessions, she writes

Confession is good for the soul—and everyone around us. Without the ability to face ourselves honestly and confess not only our sin and bad behaviors but also the shadow that drives them, we become dangerous to one another in the human community. We project our own darkness onto others rather than dealing with the darkness within ourselves and the weight of that is too much for any of us to bear. Lent is the season for coming out of the shadows and coming clean.

Barton says confession results from the inner dynamic of repentance. We know we need to change and desire to change.  She gives three elements of confession.

1. Seeing

The first element in the process of coming clean is simply seeing something that went wrong in a behavior or an action. It might be a vague sense of something that wasn’t quite right (for instance, a subtle resistance to doing something loving for another person or a subtle shading of the truth for personal advantage) or it could be something that was more clear-cut (such as an angry outburst or a blatant lie.)

2. Naming

Willingness to name the sin or negative behavior clearly for what it is and to name what was going on inside that caused that behavior.
This is not for the purpose of making excuses; rather it is to seek some understanding of the inner dynamics that caused the behavior so that we can deal with the temptation at it’s root cause next time we are faced with it.

In this element of the process, we need God to guide us because while we might see the behavior clearly, the inner wounds, character deficiencies, and sin patterns that drive such behaviors are often unknown to us and we need God to reveal them.

3. Confession

True confession requires us to name our sin out loud to ourselves, to God and to the person (s) we have hurt and to take steps to renounce it for Christ’s sake. A true confession will involve the willingness to making restitution if that is needed. Confession, when practiced fully, is personal (between me and God), it is interpersonal
(with the person I have hurt or offended), and it is corporate (in the context of worship in community.) It is the interplay between these three that keeps confession healthy and productive.

Confession leads to our ultimate freedom from sin, guilt, and the heavy burden of unresolved pain in our relationships.

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