One evening recently I was sat with my two teenage daughters Sophie and Faith. We were chatting about how it is already hard to remember life before Covid 19. We all agreed that it would seem strange now to be in a packed venue, standing shoulder to shoulder, without the fear of catching each other’s germs. As we talked, Faith casually threw into the conversation “yeah when I was little, I licked the church door handles”. Sophie and I recoiled in perfect unison and then the three of us burst into laughter. Apparently, the metal had a strange sensation, similar to licking a battery! Faith went on to say “Oh and that’s not the half of it”. I am afraid that I am not allowed to share the other confessions, but they will be committed to my little notebook of funny things that the kids have said and done over the years.
I love their openness and willingness to say “I have done some daft things”. It inspires me to create those safe spaces that we all need, to be open and at times vulnerable. I am just as interested in my children’s fears and failures, as I am in their triumphs. For the past few years, I have become more honest about who I am when nobody is looking. I want to be real, not just on the good days but also when life is hard.
It seems more expected now for all of us to have a degree of transparency and there has been a huge shift over my lifetime towards focussing and sharing our feelings. We have gone from one extreme to the other. My grandparents would rarely talk about how they felt. They lost their son during the second world war, but grief counselling was unheard of then. There was just a sense that mithering about things that cannot be changed was a waste of time. But now in the 21st Century, we are consumed by how we feel and this has become the driving force for every aspect of how we function and often make decisions.
As believers, we are called to walk by faith and my daughter Faith’s earlier confession got me thinking, what is our real confession of faith? For centuries, the forefathers of the faith have made confessions that were called creeds. Simply put, that is a set of beliefs that guide how we act. The second half of the bible, the New Testament, was written in this way. Most of the books of the New Testament addressed false beliefs or imbalances that we humans are prone to fall into. The truth of the bible is our confession. It doesn’t mean that how we feel about things is not important, but it does put everything in the right order.
Jesus showed us the perfect example of this when He was tempted in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1-11 At that time Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights and afterward was hungry. The tempter approached and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become loaves of bread. Jesus would have been feeling weak and tired and the devil tried to exploit and manipulate. It is literally the oldest trick in the book. But each time Jesus was tempted He confessed the truth “It is written”. Through Jesus’s ministry, He acknowledged people’s emotions and grief and He ministered to people who were in distress. But whereas we are prone to dwell where we feel, God shows us throughout the bible that He dwells with us and He invites us to dwell with Him; where there is life and hope. Dwelling has a sense of permanence, of settling in. Rather than just visiting when things are tough. I am looking forward to Faith’s next confessions. But in the meantime, I want to take up the invitation to confess what is true and dwell with Him, no matter how I feel. That is my confession of faith.