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June 20, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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By Kristen Hollis
Have you ever noticed that when you’re avoiding confessing something you did wrong, your physical and mental health suffer? Did you know there’s a God-designed reason for that?
Let me tell you a little story. A few years ago, I began experiencing major physical ailments that a 22-year-old should not be dealing with. I struggled with this for a few months. Then at its worst, I began to lose function of the left side of my face. It would go numb for hours at a time, and I started dealing with spasms in my cheeks and eyes. It was really scary for me. At the time, I had just begun a long journey of healing my body holistically because the medications I was taking gave me less than desirable side effects. So, I did what every other 20-something Christian woman did and dove into essential oils and started seeing a chiropractor.
When I turned to my chiropractor for help, he took one look at my body and told me I appeared to be carrying a lot of emotional baggage and trauma. More specifically, he taught me that I was carrying guilt in my shoulder. This surprised me because I had no idea this could happen. He explained to me how everyone’s body, mind, and soul are interconnected, so when one part of that trinity struggles, it can also affect the other two.
The facial paralysis was stemming from a pinched nerve in my neck and left shoulder. To relieve the tension, he gave me several mental exercises to do while he was working on my neck and shoulder. As soon as the tension was released, my entire body felt like it had released a massive wave of emotion, and I started bawling right there on the table. As embarrassing as it sounds, I could only think about one thing—the reason I had gotten to the point I was at. It was something I had not allowed myself to face, brought to the Lord, or confessed to anyone I was close with. This is not to say that all physical ailments are because of unconfessed sin, but in my case the stress of hiding it was so great that over time I had a negative physical reaction.
Confession As Part of God's Healthy Design
God designed our bodies to be intricately connected to our mind and soul. If one is unhealthy, there’s a strong chance the others will be, too, and I think that’s a beautiful thing. It places value on the idea that we need to make sure we’re properly taking care of each part of that triad to live our lives the way God intended us to.
So, what does confession have to do with taking care of our mind, body, and soul? Confession is a huge part of making sure we’re spiritually healthy, which directly impacts the well-being of our mind and soul. David talks about the physical turmoil he experienced from not confessing his infidelity with Bathsheba in Psalm 32:3–4 (NIV) when he said, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.” David struggled with many physical and mental side effects over the guilt of his unconfessed sin that could have been avoided had he come to the Lord and the people necessary to tell them what he had done and seek forgiveness.
We’re told in James 5:16 (ESV) to “confess [our] sins to one another and pray for one another, that [we] may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” The word for confess in the Greek is exomologeisthe, which means “to openly declare without reservation.” It also means “to fully agree and to acknowledge that agreement openly.”
The Power of Confession
Here’s why that’s so poignant . . . When we confess what we’ve done, said, or thought to the Lord and to one another, we are:
1) Fully agreeing that God’s way is good and right . . .
2) Openly declaring that we have fallen short of that good way, thus acknowledging our continued need for His grace and the work of His Spirit in us . . .
3) Openly releasing something toxic and damaging that we had been keeping inside . . .
4) Allowing the grace of God to wash over us, wash away the shame and guilt, and release the tension that was impeding us.
Releasing it through confession before God and one another enables us to experience a renewed peace and allows for catharsis and healing to truly take place within. It also allows others to help us walk through the process in community and with Christian accountability.
When we aren’t practicing these spiritual disciplines in one area of our lives, the other parts of ourselves will begin to send signals that something isn’t right. Think of it like when we touch a hot stove. Our brain starts to send pain signals to our hands to let us know what we’re doing at that moment could hurt us in the long run and to stop it.
With confession and prayer, there’s healing in many ways: physical, mental, spiritual, or even a mixture of the three. Remember, there is unyielding power in coming to the Lord and a trusted community in Christ for prayer and confession.