When my children were small, I did what all responsible parents do, and taught them the difference between a good secret and a bad secret. I told them that a good secret is okay to keep, because it makes them feel happy and excited about something special. A good secret might include keeping quiet about what they will give someone as a gift for Christmas, or a birthday, or it might mean keeping quiet about some other special and happy occasion that is planned.
A bad secret is one that makes you feel burdened, depressed, ashamed, or afraid. Keeping a bad secret is never a good thing to do. It’s not good to keep quiet about things that make you feel bad. A bad secret is something you don’t want to tell someone, because of fear or shame. It is something you keep quiet about because you don’t trust anyone to receive your secret in a way that will make you feel good.
The sad thing was, that in all that time, when I taught my kids about good and bad secrets, I was keeping a deep dark secret of my own.
I was keeping the secret of my sexuality, from them, and from others around me and it was not a good secret to keep, because the longer I kept it, the worse it made me feel.
I remember struggling on a daily basis with feelings of shame, worthlessness, fear and self loathing that, pray as I might, and plead with God as I did, they never went away.
I sank deeper into depression with every day that passed while I clung to my guilty secret.
Then, one day I had a moment of revelation. I am not sure, if I saw this on Oprah Winfrey’s show, or on Dr Phil, but I can clearly remember when I first heard the phrase “Secrets have POWER!” and the impact it had on me as it was explained that keeping a thing hidden, no matter what it was, if it made you feel bad, then it had far too much power over you.
The impact of that statement shook me to the core.
I realized that I was inside a prison of my own making. I had voluntarily walked inside, closed and locked the door and swallowed the key to my own release, making sure that no one could get in, and for sure, I could never get out.
True freedom for me, came when I decided to unlock the door of my prison and stop keeping the secret of my sexuality hidden away. I was able to walk out my self-imposed cage and feel the warm light of freedom on my face.
One of my favorite passages of Scripture, and one that always brings tears of gratitude to my eyes, is Psalm 139 which speaks of how well God knows me, even the deep secret places inside of me that no one else can know, are revealed to him. The darkness of night in my soul is like daylight to him, and no matter where I hide, he will always find me out.
This Psalm is not talking about an angry God who searches me out so that he can punish, or push me back into a cage. Rather it speaks of a loving father who hovered over me and was intimately involved in my creation, who knew every part of me, even when I was knitted together before I was born.
He already knew everything there was to know about me, so there was no secret from Him. He knows me, and He loves me. It was just up to me to open myself up and trust him enough to let my secret be revealed and then the true healing freedom could begin.
I love the last two verses of Psalm 139. Especially how they’re given in the Basic English Version.
O God, let the secrets of my heart be uncovered, and let my wandering thoughts be tested:
See if there is any way of sorrow in me, and be my guide in the eternal way.
(Ps 139:23-24 Basic English Version)
I want the secrets that make me feel bad to be revealed. Because by revealing them I am set free from the burden of having to hide a part of myself away from God and away from others.
When they are revealed, I can find my path on the eternal way.