Tell Your Whole Story: Why Confession Matters

He moved through the days in peace and wonder, for his whole story had been told for the first time, and he found that he was still loved.

North! Or Be Eaten, ch. 65

I am currently re-reading “The Wingfeather Saga” by Andrew Peterson. This is the second time I’ve taken this particular journey. Not to build it up too much for anyone who has not read it, but I would place “The Wingfeather Saga” in the same rarified air as “The Chronicles of Narnia” or “The Hobbit”. It’s simply that good.

Near the end of the second book in the series, “North! Or Be Eaten”, we discover some devastating information regarding one of the story’s main characters. Information that, to put it plainly, is not only shocking but nearly unforgivable to his family. Without delving into spoiler territory, it’s enough to know that one of the best and most heroic characters in the story has a particularly dark and evil backstory. When his story is revealed to his family, they recoil in shame and anger. Their view of this person is radically altered, and not for the better. His past sins have finally stepped into the light, and he is disgraced, and his family is ashamed.

The pain and humiliation this character feels at this climactic moment struck me like slap in the face. He has kept this part of his life secret, even from those he loves most, because he is terrified that when they know the truth about him, they will reject him. I have known that feeling all too well. The truth is, for a number of years, I carried around a secret that I was convinced would cause my family, my wife in particular, to resent me. I was convinced that if they knew my whole story, they would never look at me the same again.

My whole story was one of failure.

Five years ago, I wrote these words of confession to a few close friends of mine: “We are in debt. Quite a bit actually. I have kept this hidden from everyone, even Amy.” Prior to sharing that with my friends, I sat down with my wife and poured out my heart to her. I had no choice. We had reached a point where I was no longer able to hide our terrible financial situation.

My wife and I sat down on, and I told her everything. I shared how I had been hiding all of our financial problems for years. I confessed to her how bad I had let everything get. It was a very hard conversation for both of us. I was finally revealing the mess I had made. And trust me, it was a mess. Thousands of dollars of a mess. There were reasons for this mess, and over the years I had gotten really good at justifying every dumb financial decision I had made. It had started innocently; I took over the finances of our household to make life easier for her. Soon, though, our expenses kept going up while our income stayed stagnant or shrunk. Credit cards and loans got involved. All unbeknownst to her. One bad choice snowballed to many more bad choices.

Eventually, things got so bad, it was easier to keep it hidden from my wife completely. I knew my dishonesty was wrong, but I was convinced that telling the truth would be even more devastating. I kept hoping and praying that something would change; that we would begin to make some headway so that the truth would never have to come to light. We never did make any headway and it finally reached a breaking point. I had no choice but to come clean completely.

My whole story is one of forgiveness.

My wife’s reaction to the whole story says everything about her and about true grace and forgiveness. She was incredible throughout the entire conversation. She forgave me immediately. I can’t emphasize that enough. There was no hesitation on her part. No look of disgust or anger. And believe me, she would have been completely justified in being angry with me. No one would have blamed her for feeling betrayed and deceived. Instead, she forgave. Completely. She took my hands and said very plainly, “We will fix this together.”

That ushered in a very hard and long road towards financial stability. We are still a work in progress, though, thankfully, we have been able to pay off all of our debt. We are on the same page, and we discuss all financial matters. There are no secrets anymore.

If anything in my life has shown me the importance of honesty, confession, and accountability, it is this. Soon after confessing to my wife and reaching out to friends and the pastoral staff at my church, God began to move. I have no other way of saying it. God moved. As we scratched and clawed to make ends meet, God poured His love down on us in ways I still can’t wrap my head around. Bills got paid. School trips were anonymously covered. All of this only served to reinforce the rightness of my confession. My life declares the truth of Proverbs 28:13, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

My whole story is one of God’s faithfulness

In “The Wingfeather Saga”, once the confession is made and the initial shock wears off, forgiveness is offered and received. One member of his family takes his hand. That’s it. One gentle and tender touch, offered in unconditional love, and the sins of his past are just that, in the past. He had carried this secret shame for so long, convinced that his family would reject him. Instead of finding rejecting, he found love and forgiveness.

Perhaps you have something to confess. Maybe you need to tell your whole story to someone you trust. Not everyone needs to know your whole story, but my guess is, if you have some secret sin, a hidden past, a troubled history, there is someone who loves you who can help you carry that burden. We should strive to be like the heroes of “The Wingfeather Saga”. When confession is offered, with remorse and repentance, let us gladly extend the hand of love and forgiveness.

Remember, confession is Biblical. It’s endorsed and approved throughout the pages of Scripture. We should be in the business of openness and honesty. God will be faithful, and He will honor our confession.

“For his whole story had been told…”

I used a quote at the beginning of this article that lays bare the beating heart of this moment and everything it entails going forward. “He moved through the days in peace and wonder, for his whole story had been told for the first time, and he found that he was still loved.” That is my story as well. My whole story. I, too, “moved through the days in peace and wonder.” Confessing my whole story strengthened my faith and my marriage. And mercifully, once my whole story had been told, I found that I was still loved.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

James 5:16

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Phill Lytle

I love: Jesus, my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my church, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, 80s rock, the Tennessee Titans, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, pizza, vacation, etc...

2 thoughts on “Tell Your Whole Story: Why Confession Matters

  • September 8, 2022 at 10:38 am
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    Really good article, Phill, relevant, insightful, helpful, and healing.

    Reply
  • September 9, 2022 at 6:40 am
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    Amazing grace, how sweet the sound….
    Thanks for sharing this.

    Reply

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