The story of any one of us is in some measure the story of us all. ~Frederick Buechner

Eraserhead and the Power of Confession


Late at night I lie awake in bed shaking, and remembering Jeff.

Jeff was the first guy we ever had in our family group. It’s something we do here to make sure single guys and gals don’t fall between the cracks. We want people to feel welcomed and have others to talk to about their problems, struggles, frustrations. So we have long-time members host new folks.

Jeff was painfully quiet and shy. It was awkward getting acquainted. I was relieved when he offered to watch a movie with us; I thought it would be a handy way to get better acquainted. Unfortunately, the movie was Eraserhead, which I found to be grotesque and in poor taste, and I told him so.

About a year later, there was a communion service in church, preceded by a time to settle accounts so you could take the sacrament with a clear conscience. Jeff approached me. He confessed that since the night I had insulted his taste in movies, his heart had been filled with rage and even hatred against me, of which he repented and asked my forgiveness.

He didn’t have to tell me all this. He could have worked his heart feelings out with God, and I would have been none the wiser, but he felt he had injured me and our relationship and he wanted my forgiveness. We had a good conversation. We, of course, ended up a little closer, and with increased respect for each other. Because of his confession I learned to be more kind in expressing my opinions about things that are important to others.

And so now I lie awake, shaking in the wee hours, fighting fear, because I had an appointment first thing in the morning to make similar confession to a friend. I had kept my mouth shut for years about my strange attitude toward my friend. It wasn’t his problem, it was mine; it was all in my head, so it didn’t affect him; I could/should just work it out with God; and besides, I was deeply ashamed of my uncharitable thoughts toward a fellow who had long been a decent friend to me.

But I knew I had to speak up. I knew my icky heart was affecting the relationship. I knew I was in considerable turmoil. And I knew how healing it was when Jeff made confession to me.

So I prayed for courage, and for the companionship of the Holy Spirit, and I slept.

Glen Van Alkemade
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