Someone once asked Pope Francis, "Who is Pope Francis?" That person wanted to know who is our pope, who is the man beneath the white robe. After a brief pause, Pope Francis responded simply, "A sinner."
I was moved and encouraged when I heard Pope Francis' response. We are all sinners and to know that and accept that is powerful. It is also probably one of the greatest signs of love for yourself. Even someone as holy as the Pope realizes that he is only human, and perfectly imperfect, yet he is loved and meant to love.
For my grandparents and my parents, they were taught in such a way that they should feel ashamed and feel bad for their sins. There was a fear instilled for "bad behavior," and a fear of God's wrath. As a child, if I misbehaved, my grandmother would tell me to stop, or God will be mad at me. It was this practice of fearing God by instilling shame, that I would imagine is why many have left their faith in a closet with all their skeletons, because their sins were too heavy to carry and it was easier to chock it up to life.
However, that's why we Catholics go to confession--to confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. I can imagine for my grandparents and parents, that that was scary, because the persepctive given to confession, sins, and forgiveness seemed to sort of connote negativity as it was previously practiced and taught. At least, that's my impression.
I, however, have not carried that same fear, because why should I fear God? My God is a loving God. He is a forgiving God. He knows what's in my heart and everything I am without me having to say it.
Of course, you can't just go to confession every week, month, year, or however many times you go, and ask for forgiveness without really repenting. You have to mean it. If you don't mean it, what's the point?
I don't walk into confession counting which commandments I broke. No, I have a conversation about the parts of my life I'm having the most trouble with. For example, I I often discuss my need for more patience and softness with my mother. In fact, I was feeling bad that I was always bringing that up in confession, feeling like I was always failing at this, until a friend told me, "when you pray for patience, God tests you with patience." He gives you opportunities to be patient, and sometimes you'll stumble while other times you'll do just fine, because again, we're just a bunch of sinners trying to lead as good a life as we can...well, most of us are...I hope.
The thing is, be kind to yourself. Be forgiving of yourself. You only have one life and there's no such thing as perfection. Accept yourself and go on loving the way you were meant to.
BIG LOVE & HUGS