I have always had a love-hate relationship with confession. On the one hand, I see the beauty of God’s limitless mercy and compassion; on the other, I see a gift that I don’t think I deserve to receive. I always thought I was just practicing humility, but I soon started to notice that something was wrong when I simply started to reject God’s mercy. For some people, it is the fear of confessing to the priest that prevents them from seeking the sacrament – for me, I was more afraid of coming to God broken and in sin.
A little bit about myself: I left the Church when I was in 8th grade but encountered God a year later and came back. In high school, I started to hate who I was and struggled with self-worth. Since I hated myself, I thought God hated me as well. Even though I knew that wasn’t true, I couldn’t help but believe it. In my mind, I didn’t think God’s mercy was enough to forgive my brokenness and sinfulness, so I never went to confession. I was stuck in this vicious cycle of falling deeper into sin, which would make me avoid God’s mercy even more. I also was afraid to go to confession until I thought I was able to stop sinning. I thought I had to have it all together to deserve God’s mercy.
What I wish I knew then (and what I want you to know now) is that God’s mercy is not something we will ever deserve, but the Heart of Christ was pierced for all sinners. Regardless of how insignificant and worthless we may feel and how deep we fall into sin, the Father waits for us patiently to come back to Him with open arms and love in His eyes. Fr. Henri Nouwen writes that God wants to find us “as much as, if not more than, we want to find God.” He is the Good Shepherd who seeks after His lost sheep. This is the Sacrament of Reconciliation: the sacred space where we dive into the ocean of God’s mercy. Never avoid confession because you think you’ve gone too far.
God’s love will always go farther.