There’s a familiar saying in 12-Step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous: “You’re as sick as your secrets.” In other words, the more of yourself you keep under wraps—especially the parts you’re ashamed of or hurt by, the more emotionally ill you’ll be—or remain. But when we open up and let them out to a trusted friend, religious confidante, or a loving family member, the freer we become.
I remember putting my secrets into an emotional safe deposit box and only I had the key, until one day at a women’s retreat during a time of sharing I opened up and let them out—one at a time. No one gasped. No one turned away. No one walked out on me. They just smiled and nodded, as though they understood completely.
At the end of the program, an older woman came up to me and invited me to sit and chat. She encouraged me to look at my secrets in a new way—with gratitude. Really? In other words appreciate the things I did that I was ashamed of? Be thankful for the hurts and pain and embarrassments? Yes, that’s exactly what she meant. Pay attention to them and be glad they occurred because they brought me to where I was that day—in the company of loving women who rallied around me and supported me in voicing my secrets, regrets, and upsets, so I could put them into proper perspective and then let them go. Without them I wouldn’t be the woman I am today.
What a relief I felt when I left that room! I was a human being just like everyone else around me. We all have secret shame and pain. We’ve not only received hurtful words and accusations from others. We’ve leveled them in return.
Today, consider writing down your secrets. Bring them out in the open. Then pray over them, thanking God for His master plan in your life that allows you to make mistakes, to sin, to take actions that you are now ashamed of—and then to forgive all of them and restore you to him.
Next, find someone to whom you can confess all this. Read your list if you wish, or share each one in conversation. Then shred the paper and ask God for His forgiveness for withholding the truth for so long. Get a good night’s sleep and start fresh in the morning, focusing on the ‘up’ side of life, no longer a victim of your past.
For the LORD your God is a merciful God;
he will not abandon or destroy you . . .
Trade your secrets and become who you are.