“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” — James 5:16
Early last Friday morning, I went to Jerry’s Donuts to grab a glazed cake donut (not as good as they were before the ownership transition a few years ago, but still above average). A guy in his late twenties was casually loitering in the parking lot, a duffel bag at his feet and wrinkled
clothes that looked slept-in. He didn’t give me a chance to hurry past before he made contact.
“Excuse me, sir, could you buy me a coffee and a chocolate donut?”
My internal reaction was terse and rather un-Christ-like. It’s probably a good thing I was wearing my COVID mask, so he couldn’t see the disapproving scowl on my face. But I nodded “yes” without saying a word.
Once inside, the typical thoughts ran through my mind: this guy looks healthy, certainly not helpless, what’s he doing accosting strangers and begging for breakfast? I wanted answers.
As I handed the man his coffee and donut, I introduced myself, “My name is Tim.”
“I’m Chris, thank you so much.”
“So what’s on your agenda today, Chris?” I’m sure my tone had a blunt, accusatory edge.
“Well. After the coffee, which I’m grateful for, I’ll wait for that building to open (he pointed) so I can go to my Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and then try to just to do my best to get through my day.” His voice was clear and gracious, and his eyes were wide and bright.
My spirit toward him immediately softened. His transparency and honesty were disarming. His confession stirred my empathy and support. His honest answer shared much about himself: “I’m thankful for the donut, I’ve made bad choices, I’m doing what I can to make better ones today.”
I smiled — which he couldn’t see because of my COVID mask — and said with all sincerity, “I hope you have a wonderful day.”
Transparency is powerful. Confession is powerful. When Chris asked me for a gift, I was suspicious and cynical. But after he shared his struggles, I was compassionate and supportive. I wanted to help. Maybe that’s why God tells us to confess our sins and struggles with each other, and to “bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
Growth and healing come when we’re honest with ourselves about our weaknesses, and have the courage to share those weaknesses with others.
I went back to Jerry’s early this morning. Chris was sitting at a nearby patio table, waiting for his Alcoholics Anonymous meeting to begin. I sat with him and we shared coffee and donuts. We’re getting to know each other.