Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. —James 5:16
I recently had a situation where someone offended me to the point where I could feel the heat in my neck and face. I couldn’t resist the urge to respond in a snide manner. But right when I was about to open my mouth, this person gave me a sincere, “I’m really sorry. I have no excuse.” I instantly felt the calm and relief come over me. We all know the amazing power of a simple apology to quench bitterness and anger, particularly without any excuses or “but.” There is something so incredibly freeing in those moments.
As I’ve reflected on my own and other women’s stories, I’ve come to realize that one of our greatest needs is to repent to ourselves and God. We are often stuck in blame and shame rather than the conviction which comes from the Holy Spirit. I’ve seen it gridlock our relationships for the sake of being right or to wear a badge of being the injured.
This lack of repentance just festers more pain and/or bitterness for ourselves. It may feel that the pain we allowed was too great to own it. So just as we sometimes have to do for others, we may have to speak forgiveness to ourselves every day until we can fully rest in His grace. But we must flee from the deceit and ungodliness of not fully and daily speaking our transgressions and to return to the calm, peace, and joy in the Good News of His Grace. In my own life, I have found that once I am able to fully accept my wrongs and rest in His grace, it becomes easier for me to offer forgiveness to others.
Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. —Proverbs 28:13
Dr. Beth Ackerman is the Associate Dean, School of Education, at Liberty University.