Finding Freedom in the Confessional
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As women living in a massively confusing culture, perhaps we are particularly susceptible to low self-esteem and, worse, self-hatred. Whatever the cause or origin, I was so full of self-loathing for so long that every thought, every word, and every action was governed by its lies. I, a Catholic woman, was embarrassed and ashamed by this, so I hid away and denied it all.
Hatred hung over me like a low cloud – like a fog that distorted everything. Friends were not friends, I thought, but rather inordinately kind souls that took pity on my wretched state and sacrificed themselves to spend time with me. After all, who could ever love me? My existence felt like some accident or cruel fate.
Every time I looked in the mirror I couldn’t bear the sight of what I considered to be my ugly face. I retreated into myself so as to not let anybody see me, for their sake and mine. I believed that the world would be much better off without me. I am not enough. I am not worthy of love. I have no worth at all.
I lived in that frame of mind for years, and to varying extents for my whole life. I couldn’t feel love at all, really. So, I proceeded through life with a shattered and darkened heart. My heart and mind were pre-occupied with hatred, and my soul suffocated under its weight. And so the pain grew and spread. I sank further and further into an abyss until I couldn’t see the truth. I didn’t see Truth Itself.
One Tuesday morning during Lent, I remember sitting at the dining room table and sobbing through the rosary. As tears streamed from my eyes I begged God to rid me of the pain that felt insurmountable and permanent. I can’t live like this anymore, I thought.
A Priest I spoke to soon after that experience encouraged me to go to Confession, declaring that the Lord would heal my open wounds if I’d only offer them to Him.
One day later I nervously walked into the confessional and finally admitted that I had rejected the truth of God’s love for me. I had turned myself away from the loving gaze of Christ.
Then Fr. David began, “God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of his Son has reconciled the world to himself….”
And I began to smile.
“Go in peace. Your sins have been put away.”
As I left the confessional I felt…new. I felt free.
I had finally stopped hiding in the shadows, wrongly thinking that somehow I could hide my true self from the One who made me. I had finally let go of myself. And I am finding myself entirely.
The fog is lifting. Somehow, in this mysterious way, He’s teaching me how to love.
As Catholic women, we have the grace given through Confession to urge us on as we struggle to carry our many various crosses. Go to Confession often, free from shame. There is nothing that He does not see. Do not try to hide from Him. Let Him tend to your wounds. Be healed! Cling to Him! He has made all things new. Be not afraid – it is He!
These days, instead of waking up wishing that I had not woken up to live yet another day, I wake up thanking God for another day to praise Him and live in His love. I no longer wake up to the lies.
So, what is the truth?
He sees you. He knows you. He loves you. He is calling you to Himself.
You were made for Him.
Run to Him.
Rest in His embrace.