I've talked with many people through the years who have secrets. Some people carry these secrets for many years before they tell anyone else. These secrets often have a variety of themes: mishandling money, physical abuse, sexual immorality, formerly in prison, and on and on.
Many of these secrets are from the past, tucked away in a dark closet of the mind. ("Maybe if I just don't think or talk about it, it won't be real.") Often there is much embarrassment and shame that goes along with these secrets.
Right now, I am thinking about another category of secrets. I am thinking about men and women who (for whatever reason) are keeping secrets about their family.
- The husband who is keeping a secret about his wife. She has had several affairs through the years. He keeps very quiet about this. Only the family knows. Meanwhile, he aches inside.
- The mom and dad who never mention their son to church members. He lives in another city, in another state. He lives a gay lifestyle.
- The couple whose drug addicted son turned violent, leaving several mild bruises on his mom and dad. While their bruises are mild, their humiliation is severe. They say nothing to anyone.
- The woman who was molested by her mother's boyfriend when she was very small. Her mother acted as if she were to blame. For years she has kept this a secret.
- A young man checks into a drug/alcohol treatment center. His parents had no idea he had been using drugs. They don't want anyone at their church to know.
Over the years, I've had many conversations with people as they've shared secrets. Years ago (while I was still living in another state), a woman called the office one day and asked if she could talk to me on the telephone. She was the wife of a minister in our area. She asked if we could have this conversation without her giving her name or the name of her husband. I agreed. She then began to tell me her secret.
She explained that she loved her husband, deeply respected him, but felt burdened by her past. She explained that her past was littered with broken relationships. She had been sexually intimate with a number of guys. Now she was married to a wonderful man. Her husband knew nothing about her past. At times, the shame she felt from her past behavior was overwhelming. I spoke to her about God's incredible mercy. Yes, she was forgiven. She said she just needed that assurance.
I mention this because I think a lot of people are holding on to secrets.
Let me make a few suggestions:
- Thank God if you have found a friend who is trustworthy (and who will keep to herself/himself what you share). Many people have no such friend.
- Know that God knows every secret in your past and in the life of your family and his love and mercy for you is constant.
- Watch out for false guilt. Some people will carry the secret of their mother/daddy's sin and wonder if it might not be their fault. I am responsible for my own behavior--not the behavior of my dad, son, daughter, etc.
Maybe this connects with some of you. Perhaps it does not. Nevertheless, I do think many, many people relate to this.