Some of you reading this right now are living with a secret in your life.
Maybe it’s something you have done that you fear would destroy your family, your reputation, even your career if it were found out. It may have been a one-time event. Maybe it’s still going on.
Others of you may be keeping secret something that happened to you because you feel too much shame or fear to tell anyone. Whichever, a secret creates distance between you and everyone else in the world. After a while the relief of not being found out gives way to loneliness. Anytime someone shows you love, you say to yourself, “but if you only knew…you wouldn’t feel that way.” So we filter any positive things out.
The rush we get from brain chemistry when you or I do something in secret completely alters our ability to think rationally.
You may tell yourself that continuing the secret doesn’t hurt anyone and allows you to get what you want. It’s amazing the sense I was able to make out of some crazy destructive things I did when I was living in secret. I couldn’t see the pain and harm I caused to others and myself until I got help to see what was real. Somehow, I had a deep, core belief that if I let my needs and my self be really known I would feel ashamed… I would not matter.
When we look into the deep waters of our hearts you and I find that we really don’t trust God and don’t believe God is good. I think when I heard it said that God was “good” that meant “as opposed to me being bad” and so God was untouchable. I never dreamt that it meant God wants good and wonderful things for me. He actually loves me enough to make my shame come untrue.
When I was in kindergarten my mother was one of my teachers. One day the lead teacher was reading a story to everyone and I kept talking to a kid next to me even after I was told not to. Then the worst happened. My mother called me out sternly and had me go upstairs with her. I felt embarrassed and at that moment afraid… that she would spank me or worse, would be so angry she would stop loving me. At first she fussed at me for being disobedient to the teacher but then to my surprise she sat me on her lap and held me and let me cry. The very one I was afraid of and wanted to run from was the very one whose love and embrace meant more to me than anyone in the world.
In her lap with her arms around me, I felt the fear and shame disappear with the trail of tears on my face. Oh, to be really known and loved is what we so long for but the terror of the possible rejection keeps us distant… and in secret. I discovered my secrets were my attempt at avoiding the One who most wanted to love me and take away my shame. The Bible even describes God as loving us like a mother who holds her child closely.
If you’re feeling pain from living with secrets, cry out to God with all your truth and fear.
It may seem crazy to turn toward God but you’ll discover how even crazier his love and mercy is. Also find someone who is safe like a therapist, a sponsor, or a wise non-judgmental person with whom to share your struggle. The way out of secrets is not easy and may lead us through the very fear and shame that we’ve avoided. However feeling the accepting embrace of safe people and a loving God is amazingly healing. Intimacy is only possible when I am known.