confession and atonement

Lindt dark chocolate bar

I grew up going to church every Sunday. We weren’t Catholic, so I never knew the embarrassment of enumerating my sins in private to a priest, but every church service I went to included a prayer of confession, where the minister confessed our collective sins to God, and invited each of us to silently confess our personal sins.

The prayer of confession was my least favorite part of church, and not because it dealt with all the yucky, ugly parts of humanity. I hated it because I didn’t understand why it was necessary. I had a big problem with the idea of God as a vindictive father who killed his own son to make up for all the bad stuff that humans did.

It was only later, when I came back to the Christianity for a while as a questioning adult, that I began to re-frame confession. I’m still not a fan of the idea that humans are inherently sinners. But I have to admit that there are times (more times than I care to admit) that I act in ways that separate me from my inner wisdom – what some people might call God. And I’ve grown to understand that in those moments of turning my back on my deeper knowing, I am doing myself real harm.

Like chocolate, for instance. I’ve written about how I’ve struggled with food addiction and bingeing. I’m sure that chocolate to many people seems a pretty innocent sin, but for me it was the ultimate drug. Eating chocolate meant not just turning my back on my inner wisdom – it meant outright obliteration of any connection to the wise, caring and healing energy that could have helped me with the pain I was trying to endure. The thing is, I knew it. Going into each binge, I was always pulled in two directions. One part of me recognized and understood that I was an addict; the other part of me just wanted relief from my pain. For decades, the pain avoider won. And after each binge, when I was (semi-) sane again, I had to own up to what I was doing.

The funny thing is, I can see now that the “sin” of my addiction was actually trying to lead me to the same place as confession. Atonement. From the Old English phrase “at onement,” or in harmony with. Because that’s all I really wanted – to be in harmony with life, and Source energy.

Is there anything in your life separating you from harmony? How could you repair that relationship?