Maybe you want to be honest and “fess up” (confess) something you did yesterday or years ago. Maybe you want to come clean about your past because you didn’t just tell a lie, you’re actually living a lie.
Whatever your story — whether you want to learn how to tell your boyfriend the truth, how to forgive yourself for something you did, or how to stop living a lie — you’re ready to come clean. Your past has haunted you for long enough. You know telling the truth is the right thing to do. Even more importantly, you believe coming clean has the power to help you heal from the guilt and shame. You know that telling the truth won’t be easy because it’ll hurt people you love…but you also know that you have to come clean about your past because you can’t carry the weight any longer.
And yet you’re hesitating. You know there’s a big difference between wanting to come clean and actually telling the truth about your past! It’s hard to be honest with people — and it’s even harder when you’re coming clean with your husband, family, close friend, or boss. Their opinion matters, even if your past isn’t a current reality.
You can start by coming clean in the comments section below! Be anonymous, honest, and humble. You can tell the truth, whether you’re confessing that you stole money from your parents, cheated on your husband, or accidentally caused your pet’s death. Writing your “confession” can give you courage, strength and motivation to come clean with people who really matter to you.
How to Come Clean About Your Past
These tips for telling the truth are inspired by two things: a reader’s question and Leviticus 15. I’m working on a She Blossoms Through the Bible project, which involves writing an article for every chapter in every book of Scripture. Right now I’m reading the book of Leviticus; today is “Bodily Discharges” (Leviticus 15).
1. Reflect on your reasons for telling the truth
The book of Leviticus in the Old Testament describes how the Israelites were to live. They were God’s chosen people, brought out of slavery in Egypt for life in a new land. The Israelites hadn’t lived in freedom for centuries, which means they needed rules for living. In Leviticus, God gives Moses and Aaron the priestly instructions for cleanliness, holiness, health, and good community relationships. Today, reading Leviticus 15, I realized that cleanliness and purification wasn’t just a requirement for healthy communities in ancient Israel, it was emotionally and spiritually beneficial. Telling the truth about your actions — coming clean about your past — was a reflection of both personal integrity and public health. The Israelites came clean about their lies, cheating, stealing and impurities so they could be made right with God, each other, and themselves.
Why are you ready to come clean about your past? Before you spill your guts in an attempt at honesty, figure out why you’re coming clean. After all, your past is ancient history, isn’t it? What difference will it make to tell the truth about what you did? It could make a lot of difference, actually. There are many of good, healthy reasons to come clean about your past. Telling the truth can help you remember the past without feeling ashamed or guilty. Being honest can lift a hidden weight off your shoulders, help you breathe lighter, easier, more honestly. But every situation, story and person is unique! And not all past lies, mistakes or crimes need to be shared. In fact, coming clean about the past can do more damage than good.
2. Talk to an objective, wise, mature person before coming clean
In Leviticus 15 — and most of both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, in fact — the priests and prophets were God’s “spokespeople.” They acted as intermediaries between the Jews and Yahweh. The Lord God is and was so holy, sacred and awesome that He couldn’t be approached face-to-face by anyone. Most of the Israelites had to approach God through the Jewish priests and prophets. Those men and women were supposed to be objective, wise, mature people who could help the Jews turn back to God (come clean about their past!) after they wandered away.
Before you come clean about your past, talk to someone you trust. It’s important to tell the truth with your heart, spirit, and motivation in the right place. It’s also important to talk to someone wise and objective to help you determine what your real motivations are. We can’t see ourselves clearly because we are inside ourselves. It’s like trying to read the label of a bottle when you’re inside the bottle — or you yourself are the bottle! If you’re preparing or getting ready to come clean about your past, consider doing a test run on someone you trust. Someone who won’t be personally affected by what you did. Talk about your motivations for coming clean, ask if they make good, healthy sense.
3. Learn how to be humble
One of the most striking things about Leviticus 15 is that the Israelites’ “unclean discharges” were private. Nobody would’ve known about many of the bodily functions in Leviticus 15 because they involved their private parts. I suspect many Jews could (and perhaps did) hid their uncleanliness because they were too proud, worried, or scared to tell the truth. A man my not have wanted to admit he had a disease; a woman may not have wanted to say she’s been bleeding for three months. An Israelite would have to be humble and honest to tell the truth to a priest, and to keep coming clean for as long as it took to heal.
Let the humility and honesty of Jesus lead you forward. If you’re truly ready to come clean about your past, you need more than healthy, good motivation. You need to be humble and honest, prepared to sacrifice the opinion of others for the sake of the truth. You have to be honest about your past so others can know you for who you truly are. You have to come clean because your reasons for telling the truth are bigger and more important than your motivation to keep hiding in shame and guilt. Jesus Christ didn’t have to “come clean about his past” or tell the truth…but He did have to be humble and honest about who He was. Jesus didn’t care what people thought about Him — and neither did His true disciples.
Earlier I mentioned that this blog post was inspired by both Leviticus 15 and a She Blossoms reader. She said, “How can you be so honest about your past and what you’ve been through? I want to write a book but I don’t know how to come clean about my past.”
The reason I can tell the truth about my past is that I don’t care what others think about me. I’m learning how to deeply, joyfully root my identity in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and God. I know who I am and nothing else matters. If guilt and shame is holding you back from coming clean or being honest, read 7 Practical Ways to Forgive Yourself for Past Mistakes.
If you want to come clean about your past anonymously, feel free to share your story below. You won’t be judged, criticized or condemned…but you will be heard. And sometimes that’s all we need! Just to be honest about who we are and what we did. To be heard, accepted, loved no matter what.