A few months ago, for Lent, I decided I needed to give up NOT repenting specifically for my sins. I realized my acknowledgments of sin against God and others, if they happened at all, were predominantly general. Not surprisingly, the freedom that comes with God’s forgiveness of my sins because of Christ’s work on my behalf was predominantly vague, too.
So I wanted to try to repent more specifically, more consciously, which meant I needed to not just gloss over things in my head, or even in a journal. I needed to say my confession out loud or at least somehow to another person. Which meant I needed someone to repent TO. This is where being Catholic would have been a help.
Instead, I asked Doug if I could send my specific confessions to him via Snapchat as they occurred. I asked that he simply respond every time with a simple, “God loves you. You are forgiven in Christ.” My assurance of pardon.
The general sin of sloth had engulfed me. I felt this was one path God was giving me to get out of the dull grayness of ambivalence and into the sunshine intensity of living.
I felt dumb repenting of some things, like eating six boxes of crackers in one day to comfort myself. It seemed like such a mundane, silly thing to repent of. Yet it was where I was trying to find comfort apart from God, and the mundane tends to be where sin frequently meets the road in my life. I felt terrified to repent of other things, especially when they revealed the utter ugliness of my true thoughts toward Doug and others at times.
I didn’t expect this simple exercise to matter much. It seemed somewhat canned and programmatic. But to the faulting extent that I did it—and it really was faulting—it did matter. There was something about specifically identifying how I was putting something else before God, humbling myself to externally acknowledge that sin, and then being reminded of how God loves me and I am forgiven in Christ.
God reminded me, too, that I am an embodied soul and that form and ritual matter. I can benefit from having a ritual (or “system,” if you prefer) in which to put the substance. I benefited from setting up a system in which to put the substance of my confessions and receive timely reminders of God’s forgiveness. I definitely need to keep growing in this area.
Romans 2:4 says, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.”
May we know the great freedom that comes through our forgiveness in Christ.
Julie Serven craves shalom for people and places. She enjoys editing, helping people with literacy skills, hearing people’s stories, exploring all things OKC, yoga, NPR, and spending time with her ultracool family.