For forty years I've been saying that I don't understand confession. And for forty years it remained a mystery. And then last fall, it was time.
How do I open myself and my flaws to the Lord? Well, I can't begin with flaws I don't see, so it makes sense to begin with the ones I do see. I began a new prayer journal and dedicated the last quarter of it to "Confession."
C.S. Lewis is helpful to me: "you should at least make a list on a piece of paper, and make a serious act of penance about each of them...don't be sensational and exaggerate them trying to work things up and make melodramatic sins out of small matters--and don't slur things over...use plain, simple, old-fashion words that you would use about anyone else. I mean words like theft and fornication, or hatred instead of "I didn't mean to be dishonest..." I think a steady facing of what one does know and bringing it before God, without excuses, and seriously asking for forgiveness and grace, and resolving as far as in one lies to do better, is the only way in which we can ever begin to know the fatal thing which is always there, and preventing us from becoming perfectly just to our wife or husband, or being a better employer or employee. If this process is gone through, I do not doubt that most of us will come to understand and share those old words like 'contrite,' 'miserable' and 'intolerable.'" (God in the Dock, p 126-127)