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Those of you who are long-time readers know that I left the church during my young adult life. At first I left out of rebellion, but soon I found myself fearful that God and the Church would not take me back. I always considered myself a Christian, but it was a very lonely time period in my life.
Thankfully, I got over that!
Andrew (my husband) gently nudged me into going back. But, for those of you who are Catholic, you know there’s more to Church than just attending mass each Sunday. Yet I was putting it off…
I’m not proud of this, but until just recently I hadn’t been to confession since my junior year of high school. My senior year no one “forced” me to go, and I think I was already starting to rebel. Then I went through my rebellion stage, followed by my fear stage, and then – when I actually started going back to church – I was honestly scared to go to confession.
How do you sit down with a priest – especially if it’s one you know – and tell them it’s been nearly 15 years since you’ve gone to confession?!?
Then last Sunday our priest announced that he would be doing an extra Advent confession time. I’m not sure why, but I felt the need to attend. I told Andrew (who tried to hide his surprise, but failed!) and we loaded up in the car to go.
Little man fell asleep on the way there, so I made Andrew go in first. Part of me was afraid I wasn’t going to actually go through with it when Andrew came out, but I spent most of the time in the car praying for strength and the knowledge to acknowledge 15 years of sins.
When Andrew came out he brought me a confession booklet that had been toward the back of the church. PHEW! That helped a ton.
Walking in, I have to admit that I was scared. I was half expecting to be yelled at by the priest, and I knew I would sit there and take it. After all, I deserved whatever I had coming to me!
Thankfully that little booklet Andrew picked up had some great ways to remember various sins. You can see a similar listing at this site. That list helped me think of the things I may not have remembered during my 15 year absence.
When the confessional opened up, I immediately stood up to go inside. I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer.
And you know what? It wasn’t painful in the least!
I told Father that it had been about 15 years since my last confession. He immediately asked why, and I hinted concern (not judgment) in his voice. I was nearly in tears as I explained that I had gone through a rebellion stage and then felt scared to come back to the church, and that it had taken me the last five years to realize I really needed to go to confession.
After going through my sins, Father and I briefly visited about my life today. I explained that I’m happily married with a son and another child on the way. He reminded me, in a kind way, that I need to step up and set an example for my children. He said he hoped that day’s confession would be the start of an even greater Faith for me and my family.
Now – I have to be honest, I was scared of what my penance might be. But Father gave me something very manageable and something that I’m actually looking forward to doing in the coming days and throughout the month. 🙂
After a brief prayer, I walked out of the confessional feeling lighter than I had in a long time. I was relieved. I finally felt like I had completely returned to the Catholic faith.
Why am I telling you all of this? My guess is that there are other people out there who have walked away from the Catholic faith much like I have. I’m also sure there are plenty of people who have been avoiding confession for a long time. So if I can go back, so can you!
Dig deep. Pray. Think about what it will feel like to have your sins forgiven.
We are all human. We all make mistakes. But go in and head back to confession. If needed, go to the next town so you don’t feel like your priest is “judging” you (even though I’m certain he is not!).
Find a way to fully join the Church again. You won’t regret it.
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