Have you ever walked into a room full of people knowing you didn’t want to be there? Maybe it was a work conference and you longed to be back home with your family. Maybe people were talking about things you didn’t care about but you didn’t want to pipe up and risk turning their attention to you. Maybe you felt like you didn’t belong in that crowd and you wanted to crawl into a corner.
The last thing we want is for people to start asking questions about us.
We’ve all had times when we were in a situation that we wanted to escape. Often it’s because we don’t want to reveal too much about ourselves. It’s fine if someone else is in the spotlight. It’s fine if we’re talking about superficial things like work, restaurants or hobbies. But when people start talking about real life––failures of the past, struggles in the present, broken dreams of the future––it’s time to find an out.
Why? Because no matter how cordial we want to be, we know that when the conversation turns to us we’ll only have two choices. Lie or tell our secret.
Recently, I was listening to a young woman tell her story. She had been sexually abused by her stepfather for over 10 years starting at a very young age. She never told anyone about it during that time. He told her that this is how special daughters were treated. And he made threats about what would happen to her, her mother and her dog. But one day when she was 14 this girl’s mother asked if the stepfather had ever hurt her. It was as if a light bulb turned on and she knew instantly that what had been happening to her was wrong. And she knew this was her one chance to tell.
Thankfully, her mother believed her.
Unfortunately, her life was torn apart. She was taken to child protective services. She and her mother had to go into hiding because they feared for their lives. Many people didn’t believe her. They lost family and friends. They lost their home. And then her stepfather committed suicide. It was all her fault, she thought.
So she hid her secret deep down inside once again.
She was in a new town and at a new school, and no one knew anything about what had happened to her. Several years later, she went to a week-long summer camp. On the last day the kids had an opportunity to get up and tell about how Jesus changed their life. For the first time, she had the courage to stand up and tell her story of abuse, desperation and heartbreak. Kids, pastors, and counselors all listened.
When she got home from camp, she started receiving letters from kids at the camp (girls and boys) who heard her story. They each had their own secret. Secrets they had never told anyone. She started writing back to them one at a time, and encouraging them to find someone they could trust. Someone they could tell. Because she knew that opening the door to the dark secrets lets the truth come out. And the truth would set them free.
As I listened to her story, I thought about my own.
What resonated with me was the power of uncovering our secrets. As we open up about our past and tell others what has happened to us and what we’ve done, we let light and fresh air into the darkness within. We uncover our wounds so healing can begin. And our vulnerability gives other people the courage and opportunity to tell their secrets for the first time.
Next time you’re in a crowded room, take a look around. It’s a room full of secrets. We all have them. Many of us are still wounded by them. Many of us are still afraid of them.
What should we do with our secrets? First turn to God, then turn to others. God can heal us from the past. He can redeem our lives and make us new. He will work through us to help others when we reveal our truth. By letting truth reign in our lives, we can show others that we understand where they’ve been. Because we’ve been there too.
Unlock your secrets and bring them to God. Then pray and ask Him who you can trust. Find someone to help you. Your journey to new life will be a light of hope for someone else who is hiding secrets.
“Redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.” Psalm 31:5
May I pray?
Father God, You are the God of truth. And the truth will set us free. So many of us are afraid to tell the truth of what has happened. Sometimes we’ve been threatened. Most times we believe that other people will think less of us or not want to be around us if they know the truth of where we’ve been. Lord, You can redeem our lives from the pit of darkness and fear. Lead us today to someone we can trust. May our brokenness be used to encourage others as we walk this journey to new life. In Your holy and powerful Name I pray. Amen.
Q4U: Will you talk to God about who you can trust with hidden secrets?