I haven’t made any secret about the condition of my heart lately, but I haven’t necessarily talked about it a-whole-lot either. I’ve been dealing with some depression, but more than that has also been the weight of sin and addiction in my life, and it’s really been rough some days.
But I’m realizing more and more what has been making it so darn heavy: I’ve been bearing it with God, but I haven’t been bearing it with the believers around me.
Granted, there’s a few people I’ve reached out to for prayer in hard times, my husband and a few friends, and a few other sisters in Christ I know have prayed for me at one point or another while I’m walking through this, but I have really effectively avoided allowing people into what’s going on with my heart.
See, I have quite a bit of shame regarding some of the stuff I’m dealing with and I didn’t want to let anyone into that mess with me, even my husband. I was afraid of judgment and condemnation, even from those closest to me; people that I know love me.
As my pastor so brilliantly explained, there are two planes of life: one vertical, one horizontal. The vertical is us to God, the horizontal is us to people. And Jesus was the perfect union of this idea, as the Son of God and the Son of Man, and if you drew a vertical line and intersected it with the horizontal one, you even come to a cross.
All over scripture, there is evidence of our need for others, for the rest of the body in order to get where we’re going. Even a majority of the 10 Commandments deal with how we interact with one another (4 to God, 6 to others).
I was working out my issues with God for healing, well, trying to, but I felt wounded more and more every day. It always felt one step forward and two steps back. And it’s because I missed what He was waiting for me to do:
James 5:16 “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.”
I’d let people pray for me, but I hadn’t confessed to anyone other than God. And it was like I knew He was thinking every time I prayed in secret: I know, Sam. I knew before I created the world. I wasn’t confessing anything new to God that He wasn’t already aware of. I couldn’t hide anything from Him, but I’d been hiding from others. Not that we shouldn’t acknowledge our sins to God as trespasses against Him, but He wants us to take it a step further, He wants us to confess to each other. We need to work stuff out with each other, too.
Matthew 5:23-24 even says that if we are coming to present a sacrifice to God but we have something unfinished with a brother (another person) that we need to leave our sacrifice and go fix that problem first. We need to reconcile our issues with each other first. And I hadn’t done that yet.
Finally, the other night, I opened up to my husband. I confessed sins, old and not-so-old, to him and spoke them out loud for the first time. And while it was incredibly emotionally exhausting, I felt such an immense sense of peace almost immediately. I had reconciled to him something I’d kept secret and hidden, and it has allowed him to pray and intercede for me in a specific and intentional way that wasn’t previously available to him.
Confession, while in some practices is much different, can be and IS an instrument for healing. And when we can come together as believers, caring for one another, lifting each other in prayer, and loving them with the grace and mercy of God, we offer God the most glory as a body.
1 Corinthians 12:25-26 ”This makes for harmony among the members, so that all the members care for each other. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.”
Romans 15:7 “Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”
1 John 4:11 “Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.”
I know I’m maybe making a really big jump here, but I feel like those scriptures can be mirrored to say that when we don’t allow ourselves to be accepted by one another or allow others to care for us in our times of need, we’re inhibiting the glory offered to God by the Body of Christ.
We are together in Christ, and the Body is here, human as it may be from time to time, to offer us the love of God as we pursue a holy life in Christ. We can’t expect everyone to do this perfectly, but we can’t allow the people who have wounded us to shut us off from the rest of the Body that is willing to offer grace and forgiveness, genuinely willing to walk with us the usually rough road to victory.
So while we must be discerning with who we are vulnerable to, and I think Proverbs 4:23 makes a case for that when it says that we must guard our hearts above all else, we must still allow ourselves to be vulnerable to those believers God has placed in our lives; He places some of these people for the purpose of carrying burdens together, as it was stated in Galatians 6:2. (Why I’m not confessing on the World Wide Web, but in the privacy of my own home, within the sanctity and safety of my marriage, it’s not time for that level of boldness).
1 John 1:5-7 “This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us from all sin.”
Colossians 3:9-17 ”Don’t lie to each other, for you have stripped off your old sinful nature and all its wicked deeds. Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like Him. In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free. Christ is all that matters, and He lives in all of us.
Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Above all, clothe yourselves in love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with the wisdom He gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
Genesis 2:18, in the very beginning, the very first thing in all creation that He said was NOT GOOD was that the man was alone. We aren’t meant to walk alone or even live out our Christian faith with only God. There are people God is delivering to each of us, and people God is delivering us to, so that we may bear the weight of a fallen world together, that we may confess to one another from the deepest and scariest parts of our hearts, so that each of us may find healing, become more like Christ, and ultimately, glorify the God who made us to do so.
If you’re struggling with something right now, whatever it is, I pray that you won’t suffer silently or on your own. God did not create lone wolves, He created a body that all works toward one single purpose: the glory of God. But the body works TOGETHER. Not individuals. Christ will return for His bride, not just me, you, or that other person. He’s coming for us all. And I pray that you would reach out in faith, that you would confess your sin or whatever it is that is ailing you to a brother or sister in Christ, and I pray that through that experience you would be healed. I can tell you that it works, because God is healing me. It is the blood of the lamb and word of this testimony that I pray we might both be healed, friend.
**pictured: two of my favorite pictures from our wedding, moments we stopped in the middle of everything just to pray.