Going to confession can be a harsh experience. It is painful to recall our sinfulness and shortcomings, and even more painful to articulate them aloud. But we are healed when we do this. And the alternative—remaining in our sin—is worse. If we hold onto our sins and are not absolved from them, we will deteriorate.
To what can we compare this reality? Well, I just finished a book on the history of Australia, so how about the 'land down under'?
Australia, as you know, was founded as a British penal colony. Prior to this, English prisoners were held on rotting, sunless, rat-infested hulls in the Thames. Australia was no picnic, but it was an improvement over these make-shift prisons.
Once Australian prisoners served their sentence, though they could never return to England, they were allowed to own land. Many became prosperous sheep farmers, as sheep thrived in the Australian terrain. Likewise, if we can persevere through the transient harshness of the confessional, we will enter into greater freedom. Not only will we be reformed, like the early Australian prisoner, we will find ourselves prospering. This is the grace from the sacrament.
The most fascinating point historically is that Australians became very loyal to Britain. They did not resent the country that deported them and sent them to a brutal prison camp. Contrast it to the American pilgrim who, despite being given freedom and opportunity, became rebellious.
If you are seeking to grow in your love and devotion to the Lord, perhaps you should try going to confession! Sometimes it is the prisoner who benefits in the long run more than the pilgrim.