"The most secret things you say will have their consequences, and lying will destroy your soul." (Wisdom 1:11) (Part of the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament)
This afternoon I picked up a bench that had been sitting in the same position for a long time on the church's porch. Much to my surprise part of one the bench's legs fell off and failed to move with me and the rest of the bench. Upon closer examination I noticed that some boring insects (maybe termites?) had secretly made their way inside the leg and chewed it to bits, destroying the integrity of the leg.
The tiny, hidden creatures had secretly worked to destroy a bench leg that only a few months before could have supported more than a couple of hundred pounds of weight. Now the leg is probably worthless.
When I saw the bench leg I was reminded of the dangers of secrets - cancers that secretly grow inside a person and begin to steal life from them. How many times have you heard someone say, "Well, they took them to surgery and opened them up to see what could be done, but the cancer had already grown so much that all they could do was close them back up." The cancer's secret growth had already done too much damage before it was exposed by the surgeon's scalpel.
The same can be said for other secrets - secrets we keep from our selves and secrets we keep from one another in relationships. Secrets are often dangerous, so dangerous that by the time they are "discovered" the damage may be almost irreparable. It seems to me that if we feel we're thinking or doing something that needs to be kept secret from others because its revelation would be harmful, shameful, or worse, the first person we're keeping the secret from is our own self. We keep it secret from our own self by minimizing it ("It's not that big a deal..."), rationalizing it ("I'll bet lots of folks are doing the same thing..."), or normalizing it ("Hasn't caused a problem yet, must be okay..."). After we've decided to keep it a secret from ourselves we turn to the task of keeping it secret from others, and arrogantly think we can keep it a secret from God.
Too often I've sat with individuals, couples, families, and even churches where a secret has resulted in terrible pain and suffering. God's promise of forgiveness and healing is real. However, the pain that is inflicted on so many by the secret can be devastating. Some relationships never recover because individuals are too hurt to try what's necessary for healing, or too aware that the secret keeper has no intention of seeking necessary help for healing. They can't be trusted not to continue to act out more secrets.
Secrets are dangerous. If we find our selves thinking or doing something that we would not be comfortable discussing with God, our spouse, our family, our employer, or others, then we better quickly look for help and healing. Keeping the secret, being bound by the secret, only gives it more power and time to eat away at us and our relationships like a ravenous cancer.
God will hear our confession, forgive our sin, and point us toward healing that can rebuild trust. It may require hard work by the secret keeper and hard work by those who've been hurt by the secret, but the potential for God's healing and hope is amazing. The secret must be faced and spoken, so God's Light can shine in the dark places where the secret tries to lurk.
I pray that God will help me expose any secrets I might try to keep from myself, repent and find healing if necessary, and lead me in helping others find, expose, and receive healing for their secrets. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
Help save lives! For more information on my new book, "A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression," visit www.survivingteendepression.com.