Last week I went to Confession for the first time in over a year. I have been meaning to go for awhile, literally months, but I've obviously not made it enough of an effort. I do take it very seriously, so part of me not going was due to the fact that preparing for it can be draining and exhausting if one truly does a thorough examination of conscience.
Regardless, last week I was led to the Confession booth following a dream in which I was preparing for death. It was a profound and deeply moving dream, one that I woke up thinking about, making a mental note not to forget it so that I could consider its meaning. In my dream, right before I awoke I was lying down, peacefully approaching death. I was mixed with strong mortal panic of crossing to the other side, balanced by a flood of peace and desire to go and meet with God. In short, I was strongly experiencing both the love and fear of God throughout my soul.
So I decided that meant I should go confess my sins and get right with God. And I did.
As part of my statement of contrition, the priest said to ask God to help me not to sin anymore. And he said that I should repeat that every night. (Of course, I can't remember the exact prayer line now but...that's not an excuse). And it dawned on me - of course! I knew that I have sinned and had been repeating the same sins. So how simple is it to ask God to simply help me not to do (X) anymore?!
It makes sense, when you think of the perfectly constructed 'Our Father' prayer. "And lead me not into temptation". Duh! I tended to always focus on the "Thy will be done" part, thinking that made me humble because I truly wanted to experience God's great plan for my life rather than my own. But I conveniently neglected to consider that maybe all of these times when I led myself into situations where I might be tempted to break God's commandments, I might have had help walking away if I had taken those words to heart, and simply asked God not to let it happen.
Sure enough, that very day I remembered a "white lie" I had told that had just slipped out, and I really didn't want to retract it at this point. I knew that I was wrong, I wasn't sure why I had said it in the first place because it was so irrelevant and superficial, but still, I didn't want the person to whom I had told it to think that I was a liar. So, I asked God not to put me in a situation where I would have to confront this lie, and knowing me, probably tell another, and another, in order to weasel my way out. Well, that was a week ago, and it appears that that little incident is in the past. How good and gracious of God to protect His little sinner like that!
But it truly is a lovely new focus for me: asking God not to lead me into temptation. I am weak. Really, truly weak, and I know that sinful behaviour easily becomes a habit.