GO AHEAD. SPEAK IT!
Then Judah went up to him and said, “Oh, my lord, please let your servant speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not your anger burn against your servant, for you are like Pharaoh himself. Genesis 44:18
The brothers are cornered. Joseph planted treasure in Benjamin’s sack, knowing that upon discovery, he would have legal right to claim Benjamin as his servant. This would bring his brothers to the breaking point. They would either rend their clothes in guilt over their past sins or their hard hearts, even for Benjamin, would be revealed. The spiritual test was about to do its work and only God knew how it would work out. When crushed, Judah repented for himself and his brothers. Still not knowing that Joseph was the brother they had betrayed, Judah confessed the guilt which had only compounded over the years.
Oh, the power of confession. Not only am I to confess my sins to God but scripture commands me to confess my sins to a brother or sister in Christ too. This is so that I may know the release that comes from speaking of my own guilt. I can also ask for prayer and know the power of another’s intercession over me.
This is hard for each of us. Having been given the choice of free will, I rarely tell my story to another. I will carry the guilt of what I did long ago for decades. I’ll rationalize that I’ve asked God to forgive me. And He has. But the weight of my story presses in on me in ways I can’t even measure. Not until I tell it, speak it, and feel the release, can I understand how much of a burden I have carried.
Speaking my story to just one safe person, one who has the heart of Jesus for me, adds years to my life. Until I tell it, it isn’t real to me and it has little clarity. The narrative is trapped in my own head and swirls around like a pool of sludge. Forcing myself to speak of the unspeakable gives it form. As I pour out the contents of my heart, I am lighter. As love and reminders of God’s forgiveness are returned from the one who is listening, I am free.
The bonus of confession is the gift that comes with self-disclosure. I think of the things I’ve said after talking of something private. “I never knew I felt this strongly about that.” “I’m surprised about how much I’m crying about this.” “Things make sense for the first time!”
I can only imagine the relief Judah felt when He told Joseph the story of his past sins. Even if he had to pay with his own life, it felt worth it. Burdens of the heart crush us and it need not be so.
For the one who is crying reading this, the one who cannot take another day living in silence, give them the grace to tell their story. And show them who should be the ears of Joseph. Amen