I’ll never forget being in the 5th grade, 11 years old or so, laying awake one night. I was tortured by a dreadful sense of guilt that kept me up. The guilt was sourced by a boldfaced lie that I told to my teacher earlier that day. What had happened was my teacher Ms. Timmerman, had left the room to go get supplies for our class, and a few students, young Corey included, began ripping up our erasers into little bits and throwing them at one another. I’m not sure when it escalated - but at some point things got out of hand and erupted into what can only be described as the great enigmatic eraser epoch of 1998.
When our teacher walked back into the room she interrogated culprits, and somehow I was busted.
But when she asked me if I had thrown eraser bits - I lied. I looked her straight in the eye and said I hadn’t thrown them.
Unconvinced by my lie, she reported the incident to my parents, and when they asked - I lied to them too.
Why? To avoid the consequences and maintain the perception of perfection - or at least so I thought.
That night I laid awake. Unable to sleep.
I remember the horrible, tortured feeling: “Is this who I am now?” So I got out of bed, walked down the stairs to my parents and humbly came clean. It cost me some detention time and clean up time, picking eraser bits out of the carpet for what felt like eternity - but then it was over. My teacher never brought it up again, nor did she hold it over my head. I was free.
Solomon was right when he wrote in Proverbs 28, “he who conceals his transgressions can never prosper.” And yet we do it all the time.
In Psalm 32 the song writer outlines how to live what he called the “blessed life” or the happy life. This is helpful because there’s a sense in which we’re all looking for that! If you’ve never read it before - it starts like this:
Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)
Notice that its not blessed are the perfect, those who never mess up, sin or commit transgression. Its not blessed are the morally pure - for they never make mistakes or have regrets. Its blessed is the one whose transgressions and sins and guilt are forgiven, covered and not held against them - and who doesn’t lie about it! (No deceit).
In other words, happy is the one who is honest about their shortcomings, failings, and mistakes.
Its more blessed to confess - not better to conceal for the appearance of perfection.
The author would say the blessed life, the happy life, is lived by those who are honest with, and about, themselves. Which, believe it or not, is exactly what our modern science tells us about guilt! Psychologists would say that silence about our unresolved guilt is killing us. Unresolved guilt can lead to a tremendous amount of pain and suffering: difficulty maintaining attention, destroys creativity, hampers one’s ability to enjoy life, entices self-punishment, breaks down relationships, can make you feel physically heavier, and shape your core identity in negative ways. Makes sense that the song writer would say in verse 10 that “many are the pains” of those who choose to conceal unresolved guilt rather than confess it.
And so the advice of the Psalm is simple and straight forward, almost crass: Don’t be stupid. Confession, not concealing, is the key to the happy life. Which is in fact what we’re all looking for.
So, what about you? Are you carrying unresolved guilt? Perhaps its time to confess and apologize. Here’s some important components to a good apology, aside from simply saying “sorry.”
+Make sure to express regret.
+Acknowledge how your actions may have hurt the offended, or disappointed their expectations.
+Empathize with them on the full impact of their feelings due to your offence.
+Ask for forgiveness.
The good news that this song offers?
God’s not expecting perfection and disappointed when you fail.
God’s expecting honesty, and his love will surround those who are.
Of course its not as simple as apologizing. Sometimes there’s the fallout. Sometimes confession means having to spend sometime cleaning up after the enigmatic eraser epoch of whatever is going on in your world. But its always worth it.
Its always better to confess than to conceal.
Its the key to the good life!