I killed a helpless little animal today. I was driving along the short three mile stretch between my house and my church when out of nowhere a slender ginger cat darted across the road. Before I had time to think, react, and swerve, I felt the sickening thump of my tires going over a bump in the road, and a quick glance in the rearview mirror confirmed my fears. A lump of ginger fur lay prone in my wake.
When I arrived at church I felt sick to my stomach. My first roadkill. My first bloodshed. I was Lady Macbeth with metaphorical blood on my tires. The car behind me had seen my transgression. I was so traumatized, I felt like I needed to confess what I had done. And yet, how could I offend the shining faces of the junior high girls who greeted me when I walked in the door? How could I stand up under their judgment? It was with a quivering lip that I made my confession.
And what happened next was kind of weird.
They hugged me. They patted my arm and told me it was all right, and that now that kitty was in a better place, and that accidents happen to everyone. They shared with me stories about all the times their parents had killed unsuspecting wildlife. They gave me their compassion. They weren't all sunshine and roses, though. They certainly expressed their horror that I didn't even pull over to assess the damage done and their concern that now some poor family was without their kitty. And they mourned the passing of an adorable ginger kitten like only junior high girls can. Still, it was comforting, and I felt a little less queasy when I passed the site of the terrible deed on my way home.
I believe with a measure of certainty that there is no healing without confession. Straight-up James 5:16 style. This is part of what makes my heart so heavy about the turmoil that has disrupted my family's equilibrium. Resolution and restoration must be pursued with repentance, and yet, how much has yet to come to light? And so I've been thinking about how to be like those junior high girls, to banish the fear of condemnation and create safety for confession and healing.
I wonder how it feels to have something terrible locked up inside you, a grievance far worse than turning an adorable pet into roadkill. And how overwhelming the fear of confession must be, to keep such a cancer contained inside. Is that part of why our trend is to "like to keep our issues drawn"? Jesus demanded of the woman at the well, to share who she really was. He already knew, but he asked it of her anyway. A woman who got around. Like Him I want to expect genuinity, and be prepared to meet it. I want the first words on my lips to be compassion, not condemnation. To be a comfort in the face of confession. I want to help bring healing.
What would it look like for us to be genuine and trustworthy?
"You can tell me who you are, and I will not reject you. Release your burdens, accept my compassion."
And what does it look like for us to trust and be real?
"I will surrender what weighs on me, because the freedom that calls is more precious than the shame I fear."
Help us, Jesus.