To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. -Timothy Keller
Last January, my husband was in RCIA, discerning whether to join the Catholic Church. As my beloved began exploring the truths of Catholicism, it fanned a flame over the barely glowing embers of my own faith. We were married in the Church, but struggled in our faith journey for the first six years of marriage.
By this time, I had returned to regular Mass attendance and had recently made my first Confession after an eight-year absence. I was plugging away in the day-to-day spiritual realities of young motherhood with two little boys running around the house and expecting another in the fall.
While I was back in the Catholic routine after a lengthy period of questioning, my lingering anxiety surrounding Confession remained. I would fulfill my yearly obligation, but any attempt to receive the sacrament led to intense feelings of shame and guilt. Why couldn’t I just keep things between me and Jesus and not have to admit them to a priest?
I finally brought my struggle to prayer. Jesus knew I had no doubt of His power, but I could not comprehend His love for me. I needed personification of this truth: He has infinite power and He loves me unconditionally. Not in the general sense of loving His entire creation, but uniquely, individually me.
The next morning, while perusing social media with a not-yet-cold-enough-to-reheat cup of coffee, a Facebook memory popped up.
…from a time I was not living out my faith. At all.
I was suddenly in a whirlwind of thoughts:
“Why was that hairstyle a thing?!”
“I forgot that party ever happened! But I definitely remember what happened after that dinner.”
“Wow, I was a bit of a hot mess for the duration of 2007.”
“I wasn’t going to Confession or Mass at this time!”
“I completely forgot to confess this time in my life when I returned to the Church!”
It was a true, honest mistake. I never intentionally withheld these sins in Confession. Now that I remembered them, though, I was counseled to confess them the next time I received the sacrament. Not because they hadn’t been forgiven previously (they had!), but for my own healing.
Looking back, Christ was giving me the greatest gift. The opportunity to show someone my brokenness and receive love and acceptance in return. Jesus wants to enter our lives and transform our woundedness into His glory. However, our human understanding can’t always comprehend this. I needed a human image of His love. Luckily for me (and you), the Church gives us this human image of Christ’s love and mercy in a beautiful, safe sacramental space.
Meeting St. Agnes
It was January 21, 2017. The feast of St. Agnes of Rome. Patroness of chastity and little girls. I took a deep breath, prepared to shed light on my secrets from ten years ago, and walked into the confessional on that chilly Saturday morning. After I finished confessing, the priest smiled and said, “This is so perfect on St. Agnes’ feast day.”
I did not even attempt to hide my feelings. “She is the patron saint of chastity! She’s a virgin martyr! I am the opposite of her!” I fired back.
My kind, patient pastor smiled a little wider and nodded, “I know. For your penance, I want you to say three Hail Marys and ask Mary to take you to St. Agnes.”
To this day, I’m still not sure where “eye rolls toward your confessor” falls on the spectrum of sin severity.
Begrudgingly, I sat down in the pew and in an exasperated tone, I prayed, “Alright, Mary. I’m supposed to ask you to take me to St. Agnes. I don’t see why. My life is the complete opposite of everything she was. This is embarrassing and so ridiculous!”
Immediately, clear as day, I heard St. Agnes speak to my heart:
Do not compare our lives. I am the patron saint of little girls. I saw you as a little girl. You were hurt very young. You did not stand a chance at chastity until those wounds were healed. Do not compare our stories.
Jesus knew I needed to hear those words. Poor choices I made later in life were the result of wounds I experienced as a small child. These wounds were not an excuse for the sins I committed as an adult; but Jesus extended the invitation to allow Him to heal me. To remind me that He knew the whole story. He saw me when I couldn’t protect myself as a child, and His response was gentleness. I needed to treat myself with that same gentleness.
Confession Heals Wounds
“Do not compare our lives.” St. Agnes is a saint because of how she lived her story, how she fought her fight, and how she finished her race. I can be a saint based on how I live my story, how I fight my fight, and how I finish my race.
Until those wounds were healed. It was time to forgive myself, stop living out of the wounds, and allow Christ to bandage up the hurt. My dear sisters, holiness isn’t a prize we get once we cease to be broken. Holiness is found when we allow Christ in to the brokenness. After thirty years, it was about time to begin living as a (mended) daughter of the King.
Are you living out of woundedness?
Christ saw that wound when it was first inflicted. Maybe you, too, didn’t stand a chance until you found healing.
Who is He putting in your path to speak His truth to you?
He doesn’t want to condemn you. He fully knows you, and He truly loves you.
He wants to mend you, his daughter. A daughter of the King.
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Bekah Knobeloch is a midwestern mama of three crazy boys and wife to a mountain man from Colorado. She is registered nurse, Marquette Model NFP instructor, and loves to travel, write, and host dinner parties. She unashamedly runs on coffee, wine, and an abundance of grace.