There’s a question I’ll occasionally ask the men I’m spiritually mentoring, especially if they exhibit a lack of contentment, healthy relationships or seem “stuck” spiritually.
“What are you trying to keep secret that needs to be brought into the light?”
Everyone has secrets. Some secrets are simply embarrassing. We’d prefer people not know because they’d make us look foolish, or naïve.
Other secrets are about others – we’re keepers of other people’s secrets. We hold them in trust for them either because they’ve asked us to do so, or because we don’t want to dishonor them by letting their secrets out.
I don’t think Christians should worry if these are their only secrets, unless the secrets we keep for others keep them from getting help they desperately need. But other secrets may be toxic or cripple you spiritually, relationally or emotionally.
Family Secrets Does your family have a secret? I don’t mean your, “Aunt Clara got pregnant out of wedlock,” type of secret which is simply embarrassing and best left quiet. Is there a secret in your family that is so dark that it still cripples relationships decades later?
I’ve been an elder and mentor for almost 20 years. It’s shocking to me how many families have these kinds of secrets that everyone tries to ignore under the Forgive and Forget banner, without actually doing either!
“Clare, I just don’t want to stir up a hornet’s nest,” is the reason I most often hear. The irony is that the hornets are already angry and have been stinging for years. It’s just that the family has simply navigated around the problem temporarily. But when they gather, tensions are high.
If you have a family secret, don’t keep it! Share it with your pastor and/or a good Christian therapist. As a spiritual mentor, I rarely try to deal with these complex family sins. This is not for amateurs. My role is to help the men I’m mentoring get the help they need and remind them to follow through on the advice they’re given. Occasionally, I’ve actually attended meetings with their therapist, so I know first hand how they’re being advised.
Personal Secrets Every man I’ve mentored has also had personal secrets – things he’s admitted to no one, for which he’s ashamed. One of my tasks eventually, is to get those out. I say “eventually,” because it often takes time to build a relationship deep enough that I can be trusted with their secret.
One way I try to build trust, is to admit my own past “secret” sins or fears, including how they affected my relationship with God and others and what I did about them. Be vulnerable. Also, be bold and ask straight out questions like;
“Is there anything someone did to you as a child, you’ve never told anyone else?”
“Is there anything you’ve done so shameful that you aren’t sure you’ve been forgiven?”
“Is there still a habitual sin that still “clings” to you that keeps you in fear of exposure?”
Rather than expect an answer on the spot, I’ll often give them a week to think about it. I also ask them to think about why it’s so hard to be vulnerable, “what do you fear?” I remind them of an old adage in counseling, “Secrecy is not your friend.”
So, do you have a secret that is keeping you from spiritual, relational or emotional wholeness and freedom? Please pray right now for God to reveal the name of a person you most trust, to whom you could tell your secret and get the help you need.
Following Jesus in Real Life