One of the requirements of making a proper confession is that you must examine your conscience strictly and thoroughly. If you are to be forgiven, you must be brutally honest with God, which means that you first must be brutally honest with yourself. You can engage in "spin" with human beings, but you cannot do so (successfully) with the omniscient.
I went through this process last Saturday. It was my first confession in three months, and there were some serious sins that I had committed in those three months. While I didn't murder anyone or rob a bank, I hurt the feelings of another human being, intentionally and with malice. I thought that it was essential to be as honest as I could with myself, no matter how painful that process might be. I needed to cut through all the self-justification, smoke and mirrors to the extent that I was capable.
I think I learned a few things in the process, which may or may not resonate with some readers in relation to their own lives. In no particular order, those lessons are:
--It's impossible for me to accurately psychoanalyze myself. I recognize what my thoughts and feelings were at a specific moment in time in reaction to the words of another, but I am unable to discern with certainty the real root causes of those thoughts and reactions. I believe that root causes are usually buried so deeply that none of us, unaided by professional help, can be certain why we do what we do.
--It is impossible to know another person's motivations in doing or saying anything with ANY degree of certainty. I was reminded of an early blog post by my friend, the writer Kyle Cupp, who wrote about thinking while he was still a child, looking at his brother, that as close as he and his brother were, he would never really fully understand him, since each of us is, in the depths of our being, unique in the way we think and perceive the world around us and the "others" who are not "us." Therefore, I believe, for any of us to presume to know what another is thinking or feeling is the purest form of hubris.
--each of us has our own narrative, our "story" of the way the world is and the way we and others fit into that world view. We interpret the words, actions, inactions, and motives of others in ways that conform to that narrative. In that respect, we may all very well be inaccurate in our interpretations of others. Not merely mildly inaccurate, but wildly inaccurate.
--Because of our biases to favor our own narratives, we often set up straw men that conform to our interpretations of the thoughts, feelings, and motives of "others," but do not conform to the actual thoughts, feelings, or motivations of "others." This leads to knocking down these straw men, rather than recognizing, or even attempting to recognize and deal with, the "reality" of the other. This accomplishes nothing useful and in fact, often serves to destroy any chance of genuine relationship.
--Because of these uncertainties, it is essential that we deal with one another in the first instance with humility, gentleness, and a search for genuine understanding. The rash assumption of an understanding that it is likely we do not possess is, again, an act of complete hubris, a fatal pride that leads to nothing more than misunderstanding and, often, pain.
I am sorry that I hurt another's feelings to satisfy my own narrative. I am sorry that I was not humble, gentle, and in search for genuine understanding. I am sorry that I set up straw men to knock down in my need to feed my personal narrative. I asked and received, I believe, God's forgiveness for these trespasses.
Of course, the "other" will also have to decide not merely whether or not to forgive, but whether or not they, too, fully understand the other with whom they have dealt and who they have misunderstood in profound ways. Hubris is an equal opportunity employer.