Why is confession the cure for all?

| September 26, 2014 | 1 Comment

Chaplain (Capt.) Samuel Olmos, 30th Signal Battalion

In 2004, a Vermont man by the name of Isaac Turnbaugh was found not guilty of killing Declan Lyons.

The defense argued that Turnbaugh had a history of mental illness and that his particular illness caused him to make “false self-incriminating statements,” as reported by the “Burlington Free Press.”

Olmos

Olmos

So, the jury found that Turnbaugh’s confessions were lies and acquitted him of the charge.

In 2011, Turnbaugh once again confessed to the murder, but this time after calling and being questioned by the police. His plea to receive justice for the crime did nothing for him because of the legal doctrine known as double jeopardy, which says that citizens cannot be charged twice for the same crime.

So, as of today, Turnbaugh is a free man, but if his confession is sound, he appears to be a man bound by guilt and regret.

Guilt is a very powerful motivator. I once had a Soldier come to me in a camp in Iraq to confess the many love affairs he had while deployed. Since we had less than a month left in Iraq, he needed to unload the guilt and shame of his adultery before staring into the eyes of his wife back home.

Why this dire need to confess? Frankly, I believe that the guilt of not confessing will consume us. Many religions know this and include guilt ridding in their daily practice.
For instance, the Buddhist practice of Sangha is a mandatory practice of confessing to their elders. In the Islamic religion, the practice of Istighfar is an important part of worship where participants seek forgiveness by repeating the words “astaghfirullah,” which means, “I seek forgiveness from Allah.”

In the Christian Scripture, guilt is defined as a sickness that makes people both spiritually and physically ill. The confessing of those faults to one another is what facilitates healing. The early Christian church understood this guilt-confession relationship and instituted “The Sacrament of Penance” as one of the Seven Sacred Sacraments.

Many people, such as the Soldier from Iraq and Isaac Turnbaugh, have wrestled with the guilt they have carried and arrived at a need to confess. It is almost as if there was this innate force compelling them to fess up to their mistakes.

I’m personally compelled at this moment to tell you to fess up to your mistakes and make things right with your friends, family and God, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll say this.

Are you feeling consumed by guilt or shame? Do past mistakes hit you like a wrecking ball when you least expect it? Does the thought of your past actions make you sick?

Then practice this wonderful resource known as confession that millions of people use on a daily basis. It might just be the healing you’ve been waiting for.

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Category: Footsteps in Faith, News, Standing Columns

Comments (1)

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  1. A fan says:

    Great article. Thanks, Chaplain. Guilt can become a major burden if you do not allow yourself to “shake it off” periodically. Something as simple as just admitting that “you are not perfect” can be very therapeutic. But I think the best way to rid yourself of the burden is to take responsibility for your actions and develop a plan to reconcile the issue that you feel guilty about.

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