Everyone is keeping secrets.
Some are brave enough to tell one now and then, but the decision to do so is weighed and internally debated, sometimes in great angst and anguish, before the revelation.
Some, like Wikileaks, become top headlines and cause international concern and criticism. Others–most–lie deep within the hidden parts of our own minds and hearts, shut away in a dark room where they are not likely to be disturbed, or remembered. . . .
Everyone has secrets. Whether or not we choose to tell them is another story.
Anonymity is a great friend of secret-telling, especially if the revelation could split your world apart.
TellingSecrets.org is one of many sites on the Internet that survive on anonymous confessions. Things like a secret hatred of someone else, office gossip, affairs and sexual encounters, thoughts of revenge, suicide, deeds of deepest personal shame or betrayal . . . the list goes on and on. (And it makes for interesting reading.)
What is the great fear in revealing the truth that is hidden inside of me?
I think that the greatest fear is that, if I let my secret out, people will think less of me–or shun me altogether. And (most of the time) I would rather hide my truth than risk my relationships and support structures falling apart.
Another reason for clamming up is that I don’t want to disappoint others, especially those close to me.
Imagine the teenager who comes home and reveals to her mother, ‘I’m pregnant.’ Or the young man who opens up to his family with, ‘I’m gay.’ Then there’s the pastor who tells his congregation, ‘I don’t believe this anymore.’ The politician who decides that enough is enough and forsakes the party line. Whether it’s family, friends, our community or constituency, we as people created for relationship, do not want to disappoint.
I also think there is an element of ‘I don’t want to rock the boat,’ or, ‘I just want to keep the peace.’ This is prevalent in community groups, workplaces, schools, churches, or other organisations. I realise that if I tell my secret, it will ‘open a can of worms’ in the organisation. It will stir the status quo and may result in rumours, innuendo, judgement, criticism, and potentially me being ostracised from the group.
You just need to look at Facebook to see numerous examples of people being ‘defriended’ (or in Twitter, ‘unfollowed’) over a statemnet that was made or over the misunderstanding of a post. Or a group may be created over a common dislike of a ‘traitor’ or betrayer of trust. The judgement falls quickly in any social media circle, but usually without so much as a phone call or email to ask what the real intent was.
I remember hearing Bill Hybels say that in community we have many needs that need to be met. Two of these needs are to know and be known, and to love and be loved. I think these two are mutually inclusive. We can’t truly love unless we truly know and we can’t truly know unless we understand that we are truly (and unconditionally) loved.
Perhaps this is a dream, but it is one worth chasing. Imagine what a weight would be lifted off of our hearts if we knew that, regardless of how we felt, believed, understood, experienced, or how we hurt, those alongside of us would openly, confidently, and sincerely support, validate, and be agents of healing as we laid bare the secrets held so close.
Until that time, places like TellingSecrets.org will be filled with dark pieces of people’s lives, regrets, confessions, fears, and sad tales they wish they could share freely . . . longing to receive forgiveness, healing and love.
May God grant me the grace to receive what those close to me share without judgement, with genuine love and understanding, and in full validation and acceptance of them as a person, a child of God, and a fellow companion on the journey.