While God’s grace is immediate, the healing inside our hearts and minds can take time.

Maybe you’ve confessed to God and believe you’re forgiven but still feel unsettled, uneasy or unresolved. Do you still feel the need to get something off your chest, or do you feel haunted by your past?

Take baby steps in transparency; talk it over with others you trust. Wise and trusted friends can help us see different perspectives and pray alongside of us.

In my early 20s I was going through a tough time; it was a situation I didn’t expect many people to understand. One Sunday I went to mass at a Catholic church and afterward started walking toward the rectory. I wasn’t sure where to go or who to talk to or what to say. A priest saw me in the courtyard and asked if I needed help. I told him I needed someone to talk to, and he invited me in to a small sitting room. He offered me tea. There we sat and talked heart to heart–not in a confessional, but in chairs. It comforted me to share what I had harbored in my heart, alone, for so long. It lifted a burden just talking about it with someone before the Lord, and I gained an entirely new perspective.

Maybe things weren’t as bad as I thought.

Years later when I started attending women’s Bible studies at a non-denominational Christian church, the intimacy of a small group made it easy to open up and share. Many times I shared things with the other ladies in tears and never felt ashamed… their nonjudgmental listening, prayer, hugs and encouragement helped me heal in the loving arms of sisters in the church. Slowly I became more transparent in my life in general, which felt freeing.

German Lutheran pastor, theologian and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his book Life Together:

Confession in the presence of a brother is the profoundest kind of humiliation. It hurts, it cuts a man down, it is a dreadful blow to pride…In the deep mental and physical pain of humiliation before a brother – which means, before God – we experience the Cross of Jesus as our rescue and salvation. The old man dies, but it is God who has conquered him. Now we share in the resurrection of Christ and eternal life.

Becoming transparent helps us stay in the light and not return to old dark hiding places. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

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