From his hospital bed, a Veteran turned to the chaplain with an intense stare. He started to speak but his words froze. His chin quivered. He tried again, “Chaplain, I have done horrible things. I was just a young kid when I enlisted. I wanted to serve my country. That was my purpose. I wanted to protect my family. But honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into. I have killed people with my bare hands. And I am so ashamed. I was taught, ‘Thou shall not kill.’

“I was sick after the first person I killed. I was sick after the second one, too. By the fourth one,” here the Veteran stopped, looked down and whispered, “I began to feel a rush. I enjoyed it. I got a high from killing. Now I am so ashamed, ashamed beyond words. The people I killed were someone’s husband, father or son.”

That same morning, as the chaplain made her rounds in the Veterans’ hospital, another Veteran shared his story. “You know, I’ve never told anyone this, but I got a ton of guilt for what I didn’t do. Some of my buddies didn’t come back; others came back without a leg or arm. I didn’t even see combat. I feel like a failure.”

Confession is, most simply, telling our innermost story, honestly. Confession is getting real with ourselves, without defense — just telling it like it is.

Confession is a radical act of faith; for to confess is to hope that there is another who will understand, forgive, and bless us into healing. Confession is one of the greatest gifts we can give God, because God does not ask us to be perfect; rather, God asks us to give all of ourselves to God, “the good, the bad, and the ugly.” It is only in this gift of giving our whole selves to God that we can hope to be restored to a life-giving purpose, to a life filled with rich, deep, connected meaning.

The need for confession, to restore a sense of purpose, is as old as the Scriptures themselves. We stand in a long line of all human beings who have missed the mark of God’s will for our lives. Read the following Scriptures with the assurance that we are not alone in both the need and the difficulty in raising up an honest confession to God.

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