I started babysitting when I was about 10 years old, mostly for my own family. I had one little sister and by the time I was twelve I had five little brothers. My favorite part of the babysitting was when everyone was finally in bed. That was when I could watch TV, make cookies, or just work on a project in solitude, a hard thing to find in a house of nine. There were times when my parents came home to find me in tears because I was not successful at crowd control, and my little brothers refused to take their “tween” babysitter seriously.
The “while I was babysitting” tears I remember most poignantly though, had nothing to do with my noncompliant siblings. On this particular night they were all sound asleep. My parents had just purchased a new couch. It was something they afforded over time by saving a portion of my dad’s monthly schoolteacher salary. To that point most of the family furniture had been the, “We have a couch if you think you could use it” variety. The kind that newly weds are grateful to get. That night I sat on the new sofa wondering what to do with all the quiet when I suddenly had a fancy idea. I would do my nails. Well you probably have guessed where this story goes, or at least where the nail polish went. The bottle of clear polish that I set on the middle cushion of the long saved for piece of furniture tipped over and spilled.
There was absolutely nothing I could do to fix the mess. I cried until I didn’t think I could cry any more and then I cried some more. It was the longest evening of my life. I imagined over and over the moment when my parents would enter the door and I would have to tell them what I had done.
Well, of course the moment finally arrived. My confession was short and full of genuine remorse. I don’t know what I expected, but what I received from my mother was the following:
· Truth – “What’s done is done.”
· Direction – “Please don’t paint your nails on the couch.”
· Action – “Let’s turn the middle cushion over.”
· Empathy – “I remember the day,” my mother shared, “when I broke my mother’s beautiful vase and thought I’d die, and she told me I was more important that the vase.”
· Love – “You are more important than the couch, Nannette!”
As parents, my husband and I have used similar words with our children who were in the painful position of needing to confess something difficult. “Your more important than the car, the insurance rate, the lamp, rug, the money…”
Step 5 is one of the most courageous Steps we ever take. It is to “Admit to yourself, to your Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ, to proper priesthood authority, and to another person the exact nature of your wrongs.” Now, I certainly realize that spilling fingernail polish on the new sofa is hardly representative of the very difficult things we are called to confess in Step 5, but my experience and the experience of others who have taken this step bears out that our loving Heavenly Father and the ecclesiastical leaders that represent Him are as merciful as my mother was that sad night.
When we turn to the Lord in honesty and humility and share those things we profoundly wish we had never done, He meets our confession with truth, direction, action we can take, empathy, and love. The old saying goes, “Confession is good for the soul.” The great blessing of confession is the peace that comes from knowing that we have been square with ourselves, with another human being, and with God. Now we can move forward. And if we listen carefully we will feel Him say: “You are more important to me than any mess you have made!”
By Nannette W.
Posted Wednesday, April 8, 2009
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