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Christmas Confession 2023


Christmas is my favorite time of the year, but probably for the wrong reasons in times past. The lights, the seasonal music, the decorations, the extra projects, the gifts, and so much more tend to distract me from the only thing and the single most important truth that matters: Humans are and always have been broken and, therefore, hopeless without a Savior. This reality is precisely the point of Christmas. God sent just Who we needed at just the right time. 


Sadly, we sometimes miss the point (and the Person) and seek the temporary rather than the eternal. We value the valueless. We determine our worth based on the cost of our gifts and fleeting assets or the fickle accolades of others. Too often, we pretend to be merry when we are not.


I am the last to throw stones or wag my finger in disapproval at others. My life is a twisted trail of far too many tragic choices. Too numerous to mention. Too shameful to recount. Granted, not everything in my past was awful or regretful. From time to time, I experienced incredibly intimate God moments—inklings of ecstasy with Abba. But for a long time, and especially this past year, both the reality of my mortality and the soberness of my sinfulness have dragged me to a place of shadows. I have never been so aware of my humanness, frailty, and brokenness. My heart is literally sick. My body is in a wrestling match with time and losing. And my soul drifted much closer to the abyss than ever before.


I realize now how often I lived in a world I invented to make me feel better about myself, and to gain the approval of others. I fabricated an image I wanted others to see behind a facade of wholeness rather than living in vulnerable humility covered only by grace. I offer no excuses, only an apology for pretending.


Yes, I had flashes of transparency. Miracle moments of God’s mercy evident to all. Yet habitually, I hid deep in the shadowlands.


That said, here’s my Christmas confession: A year ago, from the outside, my life seemed “perfect,” but it was not. I sinned and stole from my family and friends what may never be replaced.


Andy Stanley recently wrote something that hit me hard:


Consider the man who runs off with another woman and abandons his family. Without realizing it at the time, he has stolen something from every member of his family. He has robbed his wife of her future, her financial security, and her reputation as a wife. From his children’s perspective, this man has stolen their Christmas, traditions, emotional and financial security, dinners with the family, and so on. Now, the man who did all this doesn’t think in terms of what he has taken. Initially, he thinks in terms of what he has gained. But the first time his little girl asks him why he doesn’t love Mommy anymore, his heart is stirred. He now feels guilty.”


I am that man.


Forgive me if I sound disheartened or depressed. I am not. 


John wrote these encouraging words to Christians, “If and when we confess our sins, God is trustworthy to do His part, and He forgives us, justifies us, and gives us a brand-new start with a clean slate” (1 John 1:9, BPV). 


To be clear, I sinned, but I am not a sinner—that is not my identity in Christ. Instead, I am a saint who still sins. I am a child of God, justified by grace through faith, though I walk with both a limp and a tilted halo.


Some would have me end with my “sin confession,” but I cannot stop there. Someone yelled at me in an email, “I don’t want to hear about how forgiven you are! Don’t tell me about God’s mercy, grace, and goodness in your life! I am so tired of your evangelical crap!”


Their reaction saddened me because if my life is anything now and offers anyone anything, it is this: hope. If God has forgiven me (and He has), He can forgive anyone. If God is redeeming, reclaiming, and renewing my life (and He is), He can do the same for everyone.


I am a work in progress. Without a doubt, I am far from the man I want to be. Sometimes, I take a step forward followed by a quantum leap backward (often on the same day). And I know, better than you might believe, there are painful outcomes I may live with for the rest of my life.


But the Great Storywriter is still composing my tale, and He is not finished with me yet. He is far more patient, and I am far more loved than I ever imagined. So are you.


I know there isn’t a lot of Ho Ho Ho in this post, but for the first time in a long time, I can look in the mirror without disgust. With regrets, but without shame. How is that possible? Because I am His. Forgiven. Accepted. Loved. Bought with a price. A child of the Godchild who came to rescue broken people like me. And more than ever, I understand that shadows are evident because His Light still shines in the darkness.


Hope came to us that first Christmas. Immanuel, the Light of the world, joined us in the dark pit of our own making, offering us peace in place of the chaos we created. I love what Isaiah wrote, “The people who had been living in darkness have seen a great light. The light of life has shined on those who dwelt in the shadowy darkness of death” (Isa. 9:2, VOICE). 


Someone recently asked me, “Why are you so negative in your social media posts? You sound miserable!”


I chuckled a bit as I replied, “You are interpreting my transparency as a bad thing when, in fact, confession leads to freedom, joy, and worship.”


In David‘s Psalm of sorrow and repentance, he wrote in Psalm 51:14 that confession leads to passionate worship.


Though my past, and especially my recent past, has been riddled with failure and brokenness, Jesus is restoring my life.


Though there are consequences for my choices, and I have left too many wounded in the wake of my sins, Jesus is making all things new, and I am no longer buried under the weight of my shame. My heart is no longer heavy with angst but filled with more joy than I could imagine possible.


I know more than ever before that God is faithful and good even when I have been unfaithful and bad.


As I mentioned, Jesus is still writing my story, and as the Great Author who loves plot twists, I know the end will be far better than the beginning.


So, my “true confessions” are not the result of wallowing in misery but of me rejoicing in redemption. I have transparently declared my many sins because my life points to the unbelievable kindness of God. Because of God’s mercies, I am happily remarried, involved in a wonderful church, and I have never felt closer to Jesus.


My descriptions of past despair are not written out of hopelessness but just the opposite…in great hope due to the depth of God‘s affection for me.


As Brennan Manning used to say, “Jesus is fond of me.” And despite our brokenness and countless failures, He is very fond of you and me, too. No matter what we’ve done or how ugly the stain of sin is on our souls, hope still lives this Christmas. No darkness can overcome His light, which is why we can experience a truly “Merry Christmas” despite the not-so-merry circumstances of our lives at times.

You are Loved,

Kurt Bubna

Kurt W. Bubna has published seven books, is an internationally recognized blogger, conference and retreat speaker, as well as an experienced life and leadership coach. Bubna has over forty years of experience working with individuals, teams, and a wide variety of business and non-profit organizations.