I am not Catholic, yet I love the idea of confession. In my religion of choice, we have times of confession, times in prayer when we acknowledge the wrongs and ask for the grace we don't really deserve. There is also the practice of accountability, when, in essence, I answer to another trusted person for things that I struggle with. The idea is not to have someone beat me up but someone to walk through the struggle with. These are the practices that are taught at my church, a Bible church here in Northern Virginia.
I have always believed the idea of confession as a type of purging and cleansing. It is important no matter what we believe spiritually to have morals, to not break the law, but only God knows the things that are truly mine and are different from the basics. And even the basics seem to be getting more watered down as time goes on. Yes, I believe in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit. But I've seen those who do also and yet cheat on their spouses as though it's no big deal. I see religious and non-religious people alike forget the Golden Rule. You know, the one that says "treat others the way you would like to be treated". I see compromises left and right, even in myself, and I think when did I deviate so much from what I believe? Then I stop and think about the last time I confessed these things, the big and little, to my Savior, and allowed Him to wash me clean. When I keep in this practice I remember how I want to live, because when I bow in prayer ashamed of my actions I keep those actions in the fore of my mind instead of buried in the back. I face the dirt on my feet and am humbled that Jesus would lower His posture to wash them. When I'm not confessing regularly, I can pretend that there is no dirt or forget that everyday new dirt accumulates. Most importantly, I am reminded that He knows me and my dirt whether I confess it or not, and that He loves me regardless. This is the point I wish everyone understood. Yes, I am "Christian", but not everyone is. Yet God's love transcends that. We are facing a diluting of plain old traditional values, even in His Church, yet He is love. He is love and He is grace and He is all that is good and mysterious and created. It's true, I love God because He first loved me, but love Him I do, and long for a closer walk, even if it means stopping a bit every day to apologize for those things He knows about anyway. Sometimes I wish we didn't complicate it all so much, and could just allow His love to be our focus. It fills in all the gaps, all the anger, all the disease, pain, mental illness, wrongs done, wrongs suffered. It takes time but it does. And I really am sad at times for the decline I see in personal values. Things are accepted these days that don't make any sense. I'm not making moral judgments, or talking about people who struggle with drugs, sex, whatever, but this luke warmness about integrity. I want to have integrity in my life. I want to be a faithful wife because I believe in the vows I took, a selfless mother because I believe at my core that is my purpose in my life. I want to be uncomfortable cheating on my taxes for an extra few hundred bucks or getting my teen into a movie as a child for the sake of a dollar. I don't want to bend the truth just a little. My fear is once these things become OK bigger things, bigger sacrifices of integrity, become acceptable.