The tired, old line is so familiar I don’t have to finish it—you know how it goes—confession is good for the …
Soul. And mine aches because I am a sinner standing in the need of grace. In fact, I just sobbed in the bathtub. Don’t worry. It’s not like I was sitting in there fully clothed or anything. I haven’t gone around the bend completely. But I took a bath and thought about a few things and did some praying and some soul searching, and then I bawled my eyes out.
Seems I am a liar and a thief, capable of acting out in all kinds of childish ways. It’s simple really. I visited my mother and told her I was taking her out to lunch, and then I used her credit card to pay for it all. I even ordered appetizers. Vivian and her boyfriend, Conrad, and me—all at the Olive Garden eating unlimited breadsticks and salad. Try not to laugh. It’s really not that funny.
Okay. Maybe it is funny picturing Vivian hunched over a bowl of chicken & gnocchi thinking her daughter is buying her lunch.
But as amusing as I am, I am also slippery and full of deception as I sneak her credit card out of her purse in that Olive Garden booth and smile from ear to ear as I hand it to the waitress. Lies and treachery and stealing too. And to my own mother. Really.
I give the waitress a big, fat tip and though I hesitate with the signature, reflexively signing my own at first and then making a bit of mess covering that up, I get away with the whole duplicitous affair. You’d think I’d been committing petty crimes all my life. We are mouthing goodbyes to the staff and patting our tummies and out on the parking lot to pass gas before anyone knows a crime, a sin, a crazy woman has been acting out all over the lettuce and black olives. And though I just admonished you not to laugh–fact is, after lunch I walk the dog around the senior complex laughing so hard I am in danger of wetting my pants. But I also know I am a mess and that what I did was wrong. Wouldn’t Freud have a field day over the coffee and tiramisu?
Later I find a bit of undigested breadstick sitting in my gullet and reach up to God like a wounded five year old and confess my crimes. And I cry and I cry. And scenes from my childhood pass before the back of my wet and weary eyes, visions of myself warding off those childhood blows that left cracks and crevices in the soul I now bare to heaven. And as I sob into the washcloth, I hear that still, small voice: “Your sin is nothing compared to the lesson I am teaching you.”
And I surrender my pain and take big gulps of breath and go one more time to the hurt that all these bitter years later still needs to play dark games in an Olive Garden. And I wail like a Banshee and surrender my sins. I pray and weep for grace and healing.
And then I know that I must write it all down for the world to see, make my confession, naked and wandering like Isaiah, yoked by the past like Jeremiah, sitting broken with God in a bathtub full of lukewarm water, counting on the fact that once I start confessing, mine won’t be the only fumbling voice begging for mercy and healing.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Rev. Darlene L. Kelley Methodist To Her Madness October 9, 2014