The Law of Confession

Posted on Monday, February 20th, 2012 at 8:24 AM

By Arit Okpo

I was doing my usual early morning twitter review when I came across a most interesting tweet. Someone tweeted ‘I don’t know what to do” The response was predictable “Yes you do! Don’t confess negatively!” The feeling I got was very similar to that electrocuted feeling you get when you forget you have a sore tooth and brush your teeth a bit too vigorously.

Among Christians particularly, but generally as Nigerians, we have adopted a culture of hushing or suppressing anything that might even presume to be negative. How many of us have seen or even been that person with a 40 degree fever, rheumy eyes and aching joints who when asked “How are you? replies from behind noisily chattering teeth “I’m strong o!” Or when someone asks you for a quick loan, you think regretfully of your empty wallet and go “I’m a little rich right now”

We have substituted denial for faith and optimism, and people around us are suffering as a result. I’ll never forget the young girl that committed suicide last year, or the many comments about how “Nigerians don’t commit suicide”, I find myself wondering if she wanted to tell someone how she felt, but was held back by the feeling that she needed to “keep it together and stop talking like that”

Now please, make no mistake. I’m not advocating pity parties or gloomy melancholy tales of tragedy, but this insistence on “talking right” as opposed to “feeling right” forces many people into pretending that real life situations or problems do not exist. It makes people wonder why they seem to be the only ones that bad things happen to, or the only ones who are not victorious. It stops people from seeking help for fear of being failures.

Life has good moments and bad moments. There must be a mix of both for us to live a balanced and healthy life. When we refuse to acknowledge feelings or situations, we make it impossible to learn and/or recover. For every Christian that insists on “only positive confessions”, I am tempted to refer them to the Psalms. Half of David’s writings are either about overwhelming despair, frustration or the ancient Hebrew equivalent of ‘Thunder fire my enemies!’ but I believe that it was these moments that helped him to appreciate all the good that came to his life, and which were the inspiration for all the words of praise and hope which many of the Psalms are known for. And when Paul writes eloquently of being more than a conqueror, he can speak competently because of all the troubles he experienced, troubles described in many of the other epistles. The bottom line is, victories cannot be won without battles being fought, and when we decide that people can no longer tell us that they are broke, sick, fed up or confused, we rob them of the opportunity to tell us when they have worked for wealth, recovered from sickness or resolved a situation.

A writer on BN wrote poignantly on the confusion and isolation of losing a loved one, and there was a comment from a reader about how, in her bid to comfort her mother, she made her bottle up her grief instead of expressing her hurt and sadness and thus beginning the road to healing. When tragedy comes, we are told it is “God’s will” and that we need to “Stop crying” and ‘What do you want people to say” Women suffer rape and domestic abuse and are shamed into silence, and go on to self-destructive cycles of dysfunctional relationships. People struggle with making decisions over career or life choices but are scared to acknowledge the fact, leading to mistakes and a lack of fulfilment. Youth have no idea that at their age, it is totally ok not to always know what to do. As a result, we struggle for years with grief, anger, frustration and many other feelings, until they become part of our identity and we can no longer explain why we do some of the strange things we do.

Feelings can be mental or emotional alarms that force us to stop and re-evaluate situations in our lives. Sometimes confusion stops us from making hasty decisions, frustration is a sign that we are capable of better, and hurt may be evidence that an old trauma has not yet healed. Sometimes saying that we feel unwell is not a negative confession, but a simple statement of fact and a prelude to a next step. There are certain people who will never hear me say I am unwell, because in that state, I’m not in the mood to hear “You are healed!” as opposed to “I’m sorry to hear that, I’ll pray with you for speedy healing”

Phrases like ‘It is well”, have become rote responses, the equivalent of a mother’s distracted pat on the head to a crying child as she tries to juggle too many tasks. They have become a guilt free way to reply to a cry for help without making any emotional or spiritual investment in assuring the wellbeing of the person speaking. How many of us take the time to follow up our “It is wells” with a quick prayer regarding the issue in question? Or call back after a day or two to see how things are?

People need other people. They need to be heard, comforted and assured that whatever is happening to them is not only real, but will eventually come to an end. People need to be assured that they will be ok and better for the experience. They need to know that life is a process and that all processes, if handled right, will make us better and stronger. Because isn’t that what faith is? Not the claim that everything is perfect, but the knowledge that no matter what is happening, all will be well.

We grow by falling down, crying a little, learning from our mistakes and moving on. And when we have gone through these processes, the best thing we can do for the person next to us is to help them know that “I know how you feel, I went through this once, I know it looks bad right now, but I can tell you from experience that everything will be fine” In my very humble opinion, that is a very positive confession.

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  • 49 Comments on “The Law of Confession”

    Comments
    • @halymaa February 20, 2012 at 8:40 AM

      tnx for this article bcos i truely identify with it

    • @_Iyore February 20, 2012 at 8:45 AM

      Couldn’t have said it any better than this! *applauds*

    • Mide February 20, 2012 at 8:51 AM

      i thought i was the only person that felt this way ….. faith can never be living in denial

    • Ema Leecious February 20, 2012 at 8:53 AM

      We never actually know what they feel. We can only try to imagine…

    • NUBIANWATERS February 20, 2012 at 9:01 AM

      There is absolutely nothing wrong in proclaiming positivity with your mouth and thoughts for that matter, however, I think it has become more of a cliché way of response with the intent not being understood. Some people end up masquerading the real situation and in the process deprive themselves of the needed help or opportunities that could have opened up simply by being explicit.

      A typical example is someone who is probably financially low and is very ill. Chance brings you in contact with someone that is very willing to foot your medical bills but is oblivious of your present predicaments. Then you are asked, “What is the matter, you look frail?” Out of spiritual jingoism, you ward off such with your one-liner. “It is well, I’m strong”. Whatever happened to saying it as it is but with a strong hint of positivity!!!

      We need to get real, please!!!

      http://nubianwaters.wordpress.com

      • benny February 20, 2012 at 1:59 PM

        to get real does not mean to say opposite of what is happening to you. mind you. the first time i heard that statement i said ok but later say d same person taking medicine. after which, i heard pastor adeboye say that we shld proclaim positively with our mouth.

    • uche February 20, 2012 at 9:27 AM

      God bless you Arit for this beautiful piece. People like me who admit the realities of life are looked at as not having faith. Tell them please!!!!. Its is okay not to be always perfect

    • OmogeNaija February 20, 2012 at 9:33 AM

      I’m a firm believer of ‘you are who you think and say you are’ because the power of life and death lie in the tongue, however, you have just reinforced the fact that we should be realistic of situations around, with and in us and work and pray (including positive confessions) towards having better lives. tnk u!

    • frivolities February 20, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      Lady ( I believe you’re a lady), I can’t help but applaud this article. You have pointed out what sooo many people need to hear. People drown themselves in self-pity by using religion and faith to cover it up. Those two phrases: “I am strong” and “I am a little rich” always ticks me off whenever I hear them, and they usually come from people who are obviously struggling physically or otherwise. I had to tell off a room-mate of mine when I was in school.
      I’m not saying we shouldn’t speak positive words (I’m all for positivity), but people have used this as a shield to ‘protect’ themselves from pain. And that is the ultimate denial.

    • sugar February 20, 2012 at 9:49 AM

      I totally second this write-up. Faith is not living in denial and people must learn to express themselves better and beyond ‘it is well’. That word is so so cliche!

    • Ij Obiagwu February 20, 2012 at 9:53 AM

      Exactly what I believe too.
      Had some hot arguments wt my neighbours over this same issue n couldn’t believe how brainwashed sm pple have become.
      they now believe denying the truth solves the problem and makes it all go away when you dnt do anything constructive to solve the problem.
      Thanksssss for this article.
      http://www.nigeriantvshows.com

    • LindsayLohan February 20, 2012 at 10:01 AM

      Whoever wrote this article should be given an Nobel prize. Just kidding before all these people on here make it about that now! LOL

      Anyway, it’s so true, what you have said. Admitting a problem is only the first step, finding a solution is next. For some though, after that step of acknowledgement, proclaiming the answer is their way of healing. So far you’ve been through step one and are working towards the second, you’ll be alright. AMAZING article.

    • Doubie February 20, 2012 at 10:04 AM

      Nice article… so very true!!

    • rogotigi February 20, 2012 at 10:14 AM

      Yet another true piece. Quite a number of us r guilty of this(on either ends of the rope)

    • Chacha February 20, 2012 at 10:15 AM

      This has always been my standpoint! Thanks for such an apt read!

    • Ife February 20, 2012 at 10:31 AM

      The most annoying thing is that you are not even able to state some facts to some friends! Once, I was driving while speaking to a friend on the phone; I seemed to be getting lost as I wasn’t familiar with the area, I exclaimed to my dear friend that I was lost as in LOST……guess what she said to me? Don’t confess it!!! And am like what?! Here I’m lost and drive round and round the same street and you don’t want me to state a fact…Haba!

      • judd February 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM

        LMAO…sorry had to laugh at this. Cracked me up. So funny!

      • partyrider February 20, 2012 at 8:02 PM

        LooL…as if not ‘confessing it’ will magically put you and your car on the right path..LooL

      • Berry Choco-Latte February 20, 2012 at 10:41 PM

        BUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

        I think it’s a Nigerian thing though. Since I’ve been back, I’ve heard so much “Don’t confess it. Ah, don’t speak it into existence… etc” And they say it in EVERY situation possible.

        Me: Achoo!
        Mrs B: Ah, you’re sneezing
        Me: Yeah, I have a slight cold
        Mrs B: No o, don’t say that, if not you’ll catch a cold
        Me: Erm, but I already have the cold *insert confused smiley*

        OR

        Grandma: You must hook a man this year
        Me: I’m not really trying to be in a relationship, need to get my career going
        Grandma: Shhhhh! Don’t say it. Speak your husband into existence.
        Me: *insert BB straight face*

        GAWSH!!!

        http://ajebutternysc.blogspot.com

    • D Pretty February 20, 2012 at 11:04 AM

      Amazing Article.. Am a christian but u’ve just given me a different understanding of what Faith is. U sure deserve a nobel prize for dis one.lol
      Thank you Arit

    • Toin February 20, 2012 at 11:42 AM

      You nailed it with “We have substituted denial for faith and optimism, and people around us are suffering as a result”

    • lolo February 20, 2012 at 11:43 AM

      ppl turn to forget the scripture that says “though i walk in the shadow of darkness i shall fear no evil for thou art with me” life is all about good and evil, you will come across tribulations however you need to know where to look for help not deny your situation.

    • spicee February 20, 2012 at 11:54 AM

      ‎​I recently broke up with my boyfriend of 3years.D̶̲̥̅̊ only thing my friends could say to me was “chin up”,”you are a strong girl”,”dnt think about it”,”dnt cry,if you do,he wins” and so ‎​I did all dose things while ‎​I was feeling hurt so badly ‎​I thought ‎​I would die.lastweek,my ex’s bestfriend came by just to see how am doin.he asked “how are you” and ‎​I replied “‎​I’m fine.‎​I’m strong” and den he held me by the shoulders,looked into my eyes and said again “how are you”and ‎​I just broke down and cried.‎​I cried and cried for hours and he encouraged me t talk about all ‎​I ws feeling &after that,‎​I felt way,way better..all am trying to say is that while its good to be positive about somethings,like this write pointed out,there are certain instances we ougjt to say things the way they are regardless of what people think we should say.if ur broke,say it.you neva can tell who around you would give you money.if you are sick,say it.you dnt know if the person standing next to you is a doctor.if you are hurt,scream it.you dnt know who would offer you comfort and help you through it..

    • michael February 20, 2012 at 11:59 AM

      Men words are powerful. Try stand in front of a mirror and talk, you will see mist in front on the mirror n that mist is actually a force. Sometimes when we talk our bodies actually listen to what we say and tend to adjust to that situation the way it is proclaimed. trust me faith can actually be living in limbo but it produces “results”

    • michael February 20, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      It’s not denial by definition “it’s calling those things that be not as though they were”. Thats look like living in limbo i guess but this foolishness is what creates miracles by action & confession.

      • Truth be told February 20, 2012 at 9:42 PM

        of course. but then you say, ‘I may feel sick, but I am healed in Jesus name’. Let’s not forget what she wrote about David. Me thinks she makes sooooooooooooo much sense. People need other people and it is not bad talking about your situation. You do that to get help and to have a testimony later

      • molarah February 20, 2012 at 11:21 PM

        I, em, well, *lost*, yes, I confess, I get lost when I see (and hear) comments like this. I think the writer made a poignant point for Christians when she made the references about David and Paul admitting (yes! talking ‘negative’ by what I perceive is your definition) their true feelings. And even Jesus did that too: “My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death…” So, do we now know more than our own Saviour? Its about being real, and even if you can’t bare your soul before everybody, at least do so before your God – there’s no need playing Superman around Him.

      • Ready February 22, 2012 at 6:36 PM

        I didn’t wanna comment for fear that I would sound harsh, but I really need to understand some things. I too was lost by Michael’s comment…seemed to me like he was saying a lot of things but saying nothing at the same time. It’s gotten to the point where you tell ppl “ko si ose nile” (there’s no soap) and they go “Olorun ma je ki a ri ogun kosi” (May God not let us know lack…or something to that effect). It’s like really? We’ve gotten to that point? I can’t evven state facts anymore? Not only do we have to be politically correct, we also have to be spiritually correct? Honesty is the best policy…I don’t wanna have to interpret what you’re saying from spiritual talk to reality speak…if you’re broke, say “I’m kinda broke right now, but I hope that changes soon.” That’s being a realistic optimist…all that mist force stuff is only to make you feel better. Isn’t God supposed to know your heart and have the best plans for you? He’s a merciful God, I doubt that your honesty will cloud his judgment.

    • Ima February 20, 2012 at 12:17 PM

      You couldn’t have said this better. I battled with terrible depression last year, and when I tried to tell people about how sad I was feeling, all I got was “Christians do not get depressed” and that I should stop confessing negatively. I had to resort to self help using God’s word and journalling about my feelings. Although I feel a lot better with every passing day, I cannot help but wonder how many people walk around bottling up their true feelings and refusing to seek help because they do not want to “confess negatively”.
      Sometimes I wonder if that’s the cause of the recent spate of killings and domestic violence we hear increasingly everyday. May God give us the grace to be true to ourselves.

    • pretty babe February 20, 2012 at 1:00 PM

      I so agree with you. I get so irritated when i hear ‘i am strong” when the speaker is literally shivering and can barely stand or ” i am rich” when the said speaker can only flash and cannot afford to buy credit for his/her phone. A friend came to see me and kept saying I am rich , I am rich and I was like since your rich,why are you telling me to do something about your riches? It is like the praise song that goes…. ” …no matter what i face, when trouble comes my way i would praise the Lord” has been changed to say …no matter what i face, when success comes my way i would praise the Lord” which totally defeats the purpose of the song!

      thanks once again for the write up. I truly appreciate it and hope others do too.

    • ivy February 20, 2012 at 1:26 PM

      spot on…. The gospel singer Mandisa’s song What if we were real also captures this newfound craze in christianity– we are HAPPY PEOPLE ALL THE TYM… even Jesus had his moments

    • Turn turn turner February 20, 2012 at 1:31 PM

      “Women suffer rape and domestic abuse and are shamed into silence, and go on to self-destructive cycles of dysfunctional relationships”

      So true. Finally told my mum about years of sexual abuse I went through as a child (and I’m talking daily abuse from age 5 to age 9) and after her initial shock and tears, she quickly brushed it aside by saying “Well let’s thank God you turned out okay”.
      And she refused to discuss it further.
      I was so upset! Something I’d bottled for years that almost drove me to self-harm and mum chooses to “confess positive” and move on?
      Dysfunctiomal relationships in my grown up years? Yes I do know all about those…

      I’m so sad and in tears as I write this.

      Is it okay to say I’m sad?

      • Overturned February 20, 2012 at 2:47 PM

        It is ok to say you are sad, it is also ok to be sad. Getting urself back is a gradual process, putting one foot in front of another… As long as you make progress, it’s ok. But whatever you do, don’t bottle up your feelings anymore.

        Having despaired, encourage yourself in the Lord like David did. Remember Jonah had the same feelings when he saw God forgave Nineveh, did Goid discard him? Even Elijah with all his bravado had such moments. So who are we to deny them.

        To say you are strong, you have to admit to being weak, & being poor before you can claim riches. confession is to yourself mainly & not to the person who genuinely asks how you are.

        Hang in there lady, because you will eventually come out victorious! That is a promise!

      • LindsayLohan February 20, 2012 at 4:59 PM

        Hey hon, my heart goes out to you. I will pray that God heals you today henceforth and that you forgive yourself, the abuser and also your mom. I pray that you will find the strength to also help others going through similar experiences.
        Check out this ministry and see if they can send you resources that will aid your healing. http://www.mercyministries.org/ Their stories are amazing and encouraging too- it’s great to know that there are many like you that have actually overcome. God be with you.

    • love February 20, 2012 at 2:58 PM

      @turn turn turner, its ok to be sad….just let it out……and just know that we all here feel ur pain and we love u…hugs and kisses

    • Dasilva February 20, 2012 at 3:17 PM

      Speechless ………………….. But the article is awesome

    • Pearl February 20, 2012 at 3:25 PM

      Totally true. People needed this wake-up call…
      Thanks Arit! God bless u (this is true always)lol.

    • Kudos Dusty February 20, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      You are an intelligent woman Arit, your points are powerful and true. You have said it all, people find it very difficult to empathize with others, they hide under the shadows of the bible and forget what the bible actually says. Sometimes i ask myself what will Jesus do? Will he say its well my son, i will pray for you or will he feed 5000 people, will he calm the storm, will he raise the dead, will he divide the red sea? People only see the prayer part and not the deeds part that jesus made things happen, he acted. Bright Chimezie said ” we dont just say good morning and walk away”, and i also remember when i was very little, my grandfather will receive visitors, give them food, something to drink etc only for him o ask later on” my son, who are you?” We need to be there for our friends, family and strangers. People need people.

    • yve February 20, 2012 at 4:33 PM

      again pointing out the Nigerian way of ‘suffering and smiling’. Afterall…if you glaze over your issues with positive affirmations…then you never really need to face them. and if you never face them…then you never really need to be brave, or fight for the life you really want…the one God intended.

    • Cee February 20, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      Great piece Arit. I am glad you have chosen to take the bull by the horn! I applaud your analogies to drive home your already well articulated point. It gets quite frustrating listening to the nonsense that people do and say all in the name of faith when we all know that “faith without works is DEAD”. That said, I hope people take a cue!
      @Turn turn turner, it may be a good idea to speak with your mom again about how you feel and your disappointment. You may start by sending her this article to read before speaking with her about the issue again. Best wishes!

    • Louisa E February 20, 2012 at 4:46 PM

      I just love it when a piece touches me personaly, i get tired of people telling me to put my chin up and move on when i’m obviously upset or hurting about something, though i’ve never been one to dwell in the past, if i want to moan or scream in order to feel better i do just that and when i have a headache i try resting my eyes or i have a glasss of water and if it still persists i take some panadol i dont dwell in pain. I’m a believer but in no way a fanatic. Thanks Arit this was sure a good read.

    • Ifiok Asuquo February 20, 2012 at 5:20 PM

      That was a very good piece. You’ve got great talent in writing. Please keep the fire burning cos I see you becoming a renowned author of repute. Your name will soar. Cheers and God bless!

    • auntie February 20, 2012 at 9:14 PM

      excellent

    • yemisi February 20, 2012 at 9:16 PM

      Dis article is just the bomb, i so much identify with it, just make sense

    • tbn February 20, 2012 at 9:25 PM

      Hey Arit, this is a good piece. I love it. You’re so on point about this our Nigerian attitude of brushing off negatives that are part of our daily lives all in the name of faith. I’m also guilty of it and what has it done to me? It has caused me depression, anger, bitterness and sadness over a long period of time. Until I started learning how to vent and let my emotions show, did I start getting real freedom. I’m still a work in progress though… “it is well” (LOL)

    • molly February 20, 2012 at 9:25 PM

      Love all the comments! But i also believe that apart from ‘confessing positively’ Nigerians especially are weary about telling people their problems/issues because of ‘oju-aiye’. Truth is you never really know who truly/genuinely cares about you or who wants to laugh @ your calamity!

    • Turn turn turner February 21, 2012 at 1:34 AM

      @Overturned, LindsayLohan, love and Cee…big hugs to you all!

      I’m truly grateful for the advice/encouragement, you lot should smile in the awareness that your simple act of (cyber) kindness has started someone else’s healing process… God bless you loads!!!!

    • Tiki February 21, 2012 at 9:35 PM

      Thank you! I was talking to a friend the other day about some challenges I was facing, and he went ‘It is well’. I was like ‘Dude, it is NOT WELL’! If we keep thinking it is well, we shall be tempted to sit on our hands and do nothing, expecting a ‘wellness’ which exists only in our imaginations. Speak wellness into your life, but accept reality and work towards that wellness. After all, to everything there is a season.

    • cathy February 24, 2012 at 4:42 PM

      GOD richly bless you for this write-up.