Relationships are hard no matter the type - husbands and wives, parents and kids, friends and so on. The very best relationships are built on honesty and openness. When one party withholds facts or feelings a breakdown begins.
At one point in my marriage facts and feelings were withheld to the point of near destruction. When truth was revealed the marriage was scarred with what seemed like irreparable wounds. Feelings of betrayal and hurt colored everything. Trust was broken and a full examination of the marriage and relationship had to take place before rebuilding could begin.
During the time of rebuilding both of us spent time with pastors, counselors and other couples to get help and encouragement. I began a fervent study of the Bible. At the time, I chose Bible study for the fellowship with other women and because a Bible study was a heck of a lot cheaper than counseling at $150 per hour! What I didn't realize is that everything I learned in Bible study was much more valuable than anything I gained from counseling or self-help books.
In a time of prayer during this period, I was struck deeply with a question. I believe the Holy Spirit, Himself, posed this question to my heart. I heard clearly, "Are you somebody he could even confess to?" Dumbfounded and suddenly red in my face I repeated that statement to myself. "Am I someone he could even confess to?" With complete conviction, embarrassment and humiliation, my answer to God and myself was a big, fat "NO".
There are no excuses for hurting someone in a relationship, but we've all heard the saying, "hurt people, hurt people." Spouses, children and friends need their counterparts to be someone they can come to in honest confession...with all the stuff - no matter how ugly and hurtful. I realized I was not a wife my husband could come to with any sort of confession. While appearing kind on the surface, I gave off an air of superiority and I harbored a critical spirit.
At this time in our conflict we were on the road to healing but it was time for my confession. I had to fess up to not being a soft place for him to land. My attitude and hard heart only prolonged his suffering and did not bring about healing. What I learned is that my husband was full of more grace and kindness than I gave him credit for when I apologized to him. This was a turning point for us.
If you are struggling in a relationship or you suspect someone is withholding a confession that could bring about healing, ask yourself, "Am I someone they could confess to?" If you are a parent, do you scream and yell at your kids for the small stuff, making them afraid to tell you about the big stuff? If you are married, does your spouse fear your temper, snide remarks or name-calling? Do you friends always hear you criticizing others for their shortfalls, making it difficult to share their own?
James 5:16 promises us that if we confess our sins to one another, we will be healed. Healing however, can only take place when we hear with the ears of our kind, forgiving Savior and not the ears of the judgmental Pharisee.