As kids, we often got into some mischief and ended up with bruises and cuts. Then the cut would be disinfected and cleaned thoroughly and antibiotic powder sprinkled and then layered with gauze and then a plaster would be slapped across and then that tetanus shot we would have to take and then we would need to go for dressing every other day until the wound healed. As it began to heal, it often would itch but the itching was what assured us it was healing and it would begin to dry out. But this was only if we exposed the wound in the first place.
Sometimes, we were smart by half and decided not to tell. If we told, mum and dad would know what we had been up to and we would likely be sanctioned, so guess what? We often kept mute about those cuts that weren’t obvious. But then they were discovered during shower time, as a sudden shrill cry often revealed that we had hidden our wounds or sometimes a defective gait gave us away. Other times, however, they were little undiscovered cuts that deteriorated and the pain found us out anyway. A small untreated sore often gave way to a much bigger, more painful sore when we left it untreated and we eventually needed to cry for help and tell all. We always were found out anyway.
This is often reflective of our life walk. In the process of just living even by doing the right things and making the right decisions and more often from doing the wrong things or the right things the wrong way, we could get bruised and wounded and avoid opening up to others about our wounds because of the perceived implications but therein lies the healing. In hiding the wounds, we just may end up worse off.
In James 5:16 we are commanded to do the following. “Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. ”
This means that there is a healing that comes consequent to confessing (exposing our wounds) to each other. For me there are 3 reasons we should apply that scripture:
- It causes us to consider our decisions and the implications circumspectly
Not showing our wounds (confessing our sins and faults to one another) might make us downplay the sin and ignore the potential consequences. There is something therapeutic about voicing your wrong doings or thoughts to someone else with honesty. Sometimes, ahead the action, we are cautioned by our accountability to another. Knowing that there is another human who would hold us responsible could restrain us.
- It inspires us to seek out trustworthy people and value such relationships
The fear of trusting a wrong person with our burdens and flaws is valid. Some people use our flaws as prayer points to aid ‘spiritual gossip’. There is always this fear; what if that person tells others about your sin? But because the benefits outweigh the costs, a relationship with just one person that we can be totally bare with and accountable to is incredibly value accretive.
- It encourages us to share our burdens with others and receive support
I have found that one of the fastest ways to hit the bottom is isolation but I also believe that support and true intimacy is found in sharing the true depth of our struggles. The ability to be vulnerable and reveal our flaws is what makes us really know and be known to each other. However, we all are wary of being vulnerable, failing to realize that, without it our hearts become hard and callous like stone. And as it is with stone, not only do bad things not get out, good things can no longer get in.
There is such a lightness that comes from sharing that burden with another knowing that whilst they will not let you off lightly, they will also not hold the error against you, letting you fall forward. You know that they walk the path with you, and say a prayer for you even in your absence. Identifying and addressing a flaw and knowing that you are accountable to another brings with it a certain freshness and freedom. Some days ago, I made some choices that plagued me heavily like lead. I had told God I was sorry but I still felt so heavy. Only after I shared it with a friend in brutal honesty and received reassurance did I feel relieved. It was hard. I had no excuses for the way I had behaved in the face of what I knew to be right. But admitting my error to another stripped me of every sense of self- righteousness and reminded me I was just a beneficiary of stupendous grace.
I encourage you to try it today. Expose the wound and let it be cleaned out at once. Yes, it will sting at first but subsequently you begin to heal. Even after then, the wound requires air to begin healing, so we need to sustain the accountability in the process of our healing.
Here’s to great friends and healing for your bruises and sores!
As I round off, this line from a song comes to mind,
“I pray for you You pray for me I love you I need you to survive I won’t harm you With words from my mouth I love you I need you to survive…
You are important to me I need you to survive
Image Credits: FotoandThingz