Moving Beyond Shame and Regret, Step 2: Release Your Heart

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In case you missed it:
Step 1: Recognize God’s Goodness

Neuroscientists and psychologists have known for decades about the connection between suppressed emotions like anger or anxiety and our physical health. Our brain is part of our body, so when something is unhealthy in the brain, it affects the rest of our body.

King David knew this three millennia ago.

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.

~ Psalm 32:3-4 NIV

David sang about what happened when he kept unconfessed sin and sources of shame bottled up inside him. His bones wasted away and his strength was sapped. Fatigue followed.

Confession is one of the healthiest of disciplines. It keeps our hearts and minds clear and our body stronger. And the more honestly we live, the more often we own and confess our sins, our weaknesses, and our pain, the better we feel because we have nothing left to try to hide.

When we confess our sins to God, we receive forgiveness, according to 1 John 1:9.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

~ 1 John 1:9 NIV

This is a promise of God’s faithfulness to his own forgiving nature. When something stands between you and God and you open up to him about it, owning the responsibility for it, God washes it away, instantly and permanently.

And when we confess our sins to other people, we receive healing, according to James 5:16.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

~ James 5:16 NIV

We’re so afraid of the things we keep bottled up inside. We’re afraid that someone will find out. That someone will judge us. That we’ll be exposed and all of the pain will come rushing back into our lives.

Here’s the truth. When you confess something, it loses its power over you. It’s like bringing the shadows out into the light and watching them disappear.

For so many of us, shame has locked up our hearts. Shame causes us to withdraw, to hold it all in, and to guard ourselves from any intruders, like friends, spouses, and family members.

Of course, we aren’t required to share everything about our deepest feelings with everyone, especially with unsafe people who have proven to be manipulative, uncaring, or abusive. But we do need a few people we can trust, and we need to trust them. Sometimes, we need professional counseling, too.

God is trustworthy. He can handle your biggest, deepest hurts. He is faithful to listen and to love you and to offer release from bondage. That’s because he’s good.

So when you practice step one, “recognize the goodness of God,” then you’re more prepared for step two, “release your heart.”

Move on to Step 3: Repent of Sinful Choices