32:1 Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
32:2 Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
32:3 While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
32:4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
32:5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
32:6 Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.
32:7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah
32:8 I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
32:9 Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.
32:10 Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.
32:11 Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.
Every Sunday during Lent my church says The Great Litany. At first it seemed kind of tedious, another thing taking up time on my Sunday morning. I didn’t really get it for a while. Why so somber? Do we really have to say this every Sunday?
Then I experienced what it’s like to be truly unburdened, to have it all laid out there. It is humbling. It is scary. It is strangely peaceful.
It happened when I finally admitted to myself that I was not okay. That I was hurting, that I had hurt other people, and that I deeply regretted my actions. The events and decisions that led up to the dissolution of my marriage were, as I’ve said before, crazy, and things happened I’m not exactly proud of. But it wasn’t until I confessed, I admitted, that the true healing could begin.
The Psalmist today gets it. There is joy in confession, in publicly (or not publicly) acknowledging that I am not perfect, I’ve done things that were wrong, I’ve let myself be led astray from the life I’m called to live. But I want to do better. And doing better starts with confessing. Holding back, holding in all that sin and guilt and shame is heavy. It will weigh you down and make you feel like you are sinking, grasping at anything that will help you bear that weight. You get so bogged down in it that you don’t realize you can let it go, because that weight is all you know and what else is there in life besides this weight?
When I finally let go of the weight of my sin, when I admitted to God what I had done (which seems silly, he already knew, but I think the power is in my acknowledgement and not in his awareness of my sins…), and that I was unhappy and that I needed help, I felt such a peace as I have not felt before or since.
So when we kneel together on Sunday and confess our sins together I imagine everyone around me letting go of a heavy weight. God is reaching down to wipe away our sins, our hurts, the pain we have caused ourselves and others. And maybe things won’t totally be resolved; we still have to deal with the consequences of our sins, but we do so a little lighter, a little humbler, and with a lot more love and compassion.