It’s hard to imagine a marriage or close friendship without some sort of forgiveness being asked of one another—at some point. In the protracted dance of life, we have surely stepped on each other’s toes, if you will, and have felt hurt along the way. And likewise, we have—regretfully—caused each other to suffer.
If we’ve done something that hurts, distorts or distances a deep and loving relationship, naming it, claiming it, and apologizing for what has happened is essential to restoring it. In fact, asking for forgiveness is how we protect, renew, and restore a relationship when it has been damaged.
For the sake of that love or friendship, we confess what we’ve done, we apologize for what we’ve said, and we strive not to commit the same offense again. We all know how liberating it is when a friendship or relationship has been restored anew, and we are able to re-connect and be “ourselves” again. Similarly, our Church is asking you to ‘just be you’—the person that you were created to be, to respond in a loving, peaceful and powerful way.
To assist us in becoming who we were created to be, and to help restore our relationship with God and one another, our Church invites and encourages the faithful to go to confession.
According to Archdeacon John Chryssavgis, a prolific author and theologian, confession can be looked at as a forward movement in the journey of life. It is not an invitation to hopeless guilt, but to freedom and responsibility. The purpose is not to cause us shame or to feel demoralized, but rather to point us towards a life characterized by honesty, integrity and personal accountability to God, to others and to ourselves.
“To repent is to awaken from the sleep of ignorance, to rediscover our soul, to gain the meaning and purpose of our lives by responding to the incomparable love of the One who is ‘not’ of this world, the One who ‘demonstrates’ His own love toward us.” says Deacon John. “The focal point should not be our imperfection but the perfect love of Jesus, who is good and loves humankind.”
In other words, we should not conceal or hold private our pain, our problems, our passions. If we address them with boldness and with the grace of God they may—eventually—help us love and be closer to Him and others.
Additionally, if we confess our peculiarity and brokenness before a priest, someone who will not shame us, but rather stand as a representative and a witness before God on our behalf—only then can our healing begin.