Things were getting out of hand. I let them get that way, and it was time to do something about it.
So I did what I often do; I called my mother-in-law.
“Can you watch the kids for an hour or so? I need to go to confession.”
She agreed, because she’s wonderful that way. And then she said something that made me laugh, “What could YOU have to confess?”
Well, she’s right to assume I hadn’t killed anyone. At least… I hadn’t killed anyone in a literal sense.
She made me think, though, about this pull I feel, about once a month, for confession. She made me consider why my confessor is right to recommend that I go about once a month, minimum.
“It’s all dirt,” I replied to her then, and then hurried to get the kids in the van and head out.
I’m not a great housekeeper, and when I recently tackled some spring-cleaning, I noticed that there were layers of dirt in a few places. Once I had the cupboard sparkling, I noticed other dirt in a corner, tucked away.
My soul is like that, and frequent confession helps me focus on the dark corners and deep temptations that threaten to sink me, to mire me in the hopelessness of sin.
When I go infrequently, I can’t help but focus on the Big Sins, the things that have become so glaring as to impede my ability to focus on anything in my faith life. When I’m there more frequently, though, I can start to work on those little habitual things that don’t seem like sins at first, the things that tempt me away from virtue with little baby steps.
As I look closer at myself, examining my conscience more often, I see beyond the fresh dirt to the ground-in sin that needs a bit of elbow grease. With this comes a greater self-awareness, a better understanding (however small!) that I am in constant need of grace and help from above.
My relationship with God has to be right before my other relationships can be. When I’m out of step with the One who’s guiding me, I walk around out-of-whack with the others I’m supposed to be witnessing to: the people in my daily life.
Arguably, I didn’t confess anything all that important the day I rushed off to confession, kids safely stashed with my mother-in-law. I came away from it, though, aware of how much better things were, how much more hope there was in the world, and how very far I have to go.