Living With a Secret?

Mist

A lot of people are looking for someone to listen.  Really listen.

 

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.   

Some examples:

 

  • 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.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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11 thoughts on “Living With a Secret?

  1. I was thinking of this subject recently – the importance of listening. The people in my life who really seem to “get” who and what I am are the ones who have been willing to listen to me. Good listeners are those rare individuals who can set aside their own agendas and allow you to be heard without judgment. When I think of what this has meant to me, it makes me want to be this for other people. Thanks for reminding me of my intention to be a free and friendly place for others to visit.

  2. The only thing worse than not having such a friend, is thinking that you do and having the confidence broken.

    Thank you for this.

  3. I have to remind myself, and (as a teacher) remind others that the deep, dark caverns in our souls, where we tuck away the pain inflicted on us, or the shame of our own sin, is not hidden from the a Father who understands, forgives, and mends. When we don’t feel safe enough to tell someone else, we have One who is closer to us than we are to ourselves. All He wants us to do is remember the mercy, the grace, and open our mouth wide–He’ll fill it up (ps. 81.10)with everything we need to heal the scars of our past. But we have to trust Him, at least a wee bit at first, so that He can draw us into the warmth of His breast.

  4. As a counselor, I deal with this sad truth every day. Some clients need clinical help; some need but a trustworthy friend.

    The great irony is that the areas of our lives that we keep hidden and secret are the very areas where we most need to be loved by others.

  5. Thanks for this blog. My husband and I fit into this group – we have a secret that we do not have permission to share with our church – our unmarried daughter is pregnant and feels desperately that she has let us down and that it will cause us problems with the church. (Not surprisingly, since one member protested a while back that we should not let an unmarried mother come on our Alpha course, because scripture says we must not eat with those who are in sin, as this girl obviously was!) Ironically this girl is now on staff as an outreach worker at a nearby church!
    So we’re struggling to cope – recently our daughter sent a text to me -“Will I still get a stocking at Christmas?” But where once upon a time I would have said ‘there but for the grace of God go I’, now I’m saying ‘there IN the grace of God go I’. Now I can identify much better with so many mums.

    This is the first time I’ve ever commented on a blog. The creek bed is pretty dry, but I’m amazed how encouraged I’ve been just through reading this and more recent posts. Thanks!

  6. pastor’s wife– I read your comment several times. Oh my…I read what your daughter asked, “Will I still get a stocking for Christmas?” and teared up.

    I hurt for you and your husband. I hurt for your daughter. As the father of two daughters, I tried to imagine what this would be like.

    I prayed for you, your husband and your daughter this morning.

    Thanks for your comment. I hope you will comment again.

  7. Living with a secret…(from several posts ago)…I have done too much of that. The real loss is not feeling the joy of being known and loved for who you are. As David Wilcox states in his song Hard Part: “You’ve got a whole heart. Give me the hard part. I can love that, too.”