This journal entry was sent to us by our very own Kelsey Detzner. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey with us, Kelsey! Confession is available at any time through one of the clergy, and there is a confession liturgy you are free to use at any time with anyone. Contact either Pastor Rob or Pastor Ken if you're interested, have questions, or would like to learn more.
Growing up in the evangelical tradition, I was skeptical of the idea of confessing with another person. To me, this seemed to go against the grain of the idea that Jesus was our High Priest and Mediator—what did I need with another person when I could approach his throne of grace with confidence on my own? However, when Ken and Rob offered confession to the congregation at the beginning of the Lenten season, I knew it was something God was inviting me into. So I set up a time and went, not knowing quite what to expect.
Without going into all the personal details of my confession times, I can only say that God has used them to bless me beyond measure. The original nudge towards it was the continuation of a theme that the Father started for my season of Lent. I was in a place where my thoughts and feelings were tangled up inside me and cycled through my mind, becoming (like most things closed off from light and air) toxic and putrid. I had convinced myself that I was alone and that the cycle was doomed to repeat endlessly. However, God used the words of a friend to begin to invite me out of that: “Pour out your thoughts—I can’t fill an already-full vessel.” Confession was the beginning of this outpouring for me.
Even more, it was a safe place for this. I have never been to a time of confession without shedding tears and feeling incredibly exposed and vulnerable. But I have also never been to a time of confession where I was received with anything less than complete lack of judgment and shown the utmost grace, dignity and compassion. This was key for me. Part of my struggle dealt with trust towards God and others, and in fear of being hurt, I had withdrawn into myself. In inviting me to share my heart in the presence of another - in a safe, sanctified space - the Father was leading me out of hiding. It has been a process of slowly rebuilding the trust I had lost. And since my first time of confession, God has continued the work He began in my heart. He has used it to break barriers I didn’t even know existed so that everything blocked up inside could flow freely.
Another blessing I’ve received is the way God has been able to speak to me through another person. When I’ve gone to confession, the person I've confessed to (known as the "confessor") has always had an insight or verse to share that furthered my journey, which I wouldn’t have come on alone. This speaks to the concept of community, something that an introvert like me can easily forget. We were never designed to live in solitude; we were built with the need for other people, and this is reflected in the way that confession is doubly powerful when another person can speak their perspective into your life. This was clear to me from my first confessional visit. The minute I began praying with my confessor, the tears started flowing. They led me through the prayer of confession in the Book of Common Prayer, but when it came time for me to pray out loud and confess my sins, the words stuck in my throat. Finally I admitted that I didn’t feel I could pray a prayer of turning from my sin and turning toward Christ when I knew my sins were still in process, and I feared I would return to them. They nodded understandingly and gently reminded me that while my sins may be in process, God’s forgiveness isn’t. I could pray in the confidence that, no matter what path my actions took, Jesus’ saving grace still covered me. With that reminder, I was able to pray. Afterwards, although I was tempted to return to those sins again, it was almost laughable, because they were so powerless in the light of Jesus’ already-won victory over them. In having already named them, I was easily able to call them out.
I still believe that Jesus is our High Priest and Mediator, and we can confidently approach his throne on our own. However, speaking as one who used to live in this place, if you feel alone in your faith, or if your heart desperately needs to receive some grace and compassion, confession is a wonderful way to receive it even when the darkest, ugliest parts of yourself have just been exposed—and to be reminded that those dark, ugly things have no power. Confession isn’t a time to feel ugly and low and lament our own smallness. It’s a time to see God’s beauty and strength, and recognize His greatness.