The Secret Life
When I was in college, I was in a fraternity. For the most part, it was an amazing experience. Lots of fun. Great friends. A brotherhood with a common bond. We even accomplished several community and campus projects.
One of the bonds holding the fraternity together was the initiation into membership. I’m sure there have been abuses through the years, but for me, having a secret handshake and stuff like that was pretty cool.
It was probably there in the fraternity that I really learned how to keep a secret. It was drilled into you, so that you wouldn’t inadvertently slip up.
Having secrets is probably part of life. I get that. Some of them are fun, experiencing them as a kid… ”I know something nobody else knows.” It can make you feel special. I remember conversations with my kids, “I got mom a very special present for her birthday and we’re all going to surprise her at the end of dinner, sooooo don’t say anything.” That’s fun. That’s innocent… I think.
I want to talk about the secrets that lead to a “hiddenness.” The ones that keep us from being authentic, real, and genuine. The more we go down that trail, the easier it is to live a duel life. The life that is seen and the life that is unseen.
I believe our daughter is one most amazing people in the world. Now that goes without saying, as I am a father who’s very proud of my family. That being said, we came face-to-face with this dual life that I’m talking about.
Around her sophomore year in high school, Janet and I asked our daughter to befriend the niece of a good friend of ours. She was struggling with God, relationships and substance abuse. We’re thinking, our daughter is strong and has a good handle on life, is well liked and has a solid relationship with God. She’ll be able to influence this “bad girl” and help turn her boat around. Well… we learned an important principle in that year. Like,
It is much easier to bring someone down than it is to lift someone up.
That began months of hiddenness in my daughter’s life that could have permanently changed the course of her life and values. After the fact, we found out, from her, that she began sneaking out in the middle of the night through her bedroom window. I mean it was sneaky. It was her secret. It began to change her. Oh, you wouldn’t see it on the outside, to everyone else she was the perfect daughter. But we knew… she knew. I’m not exactly sure what brought her to the point of exposing her hiddenness, but I suspect consistency on our part…consistent engagement… consistent prayer… the amazing grace and sovereignty of God… her deep seated values eventually won the day. Not without tears, not without pain, not without damage. But, all in all, God really is in the love and restoration business.
Hiddenness in your life will change the way you act toward others and toward God. It happened long ago in the garden of Eden. Adam’s disobedience, his sin forever changed his relationship with the Creator. It does the same with all of us. You become more careful in your conversations. Somethings can be said, but somethings can’t for fear of exposure… being found out… the secret being exposed. It’s a terrible way to live, but so many live with this every day. The stress can change you.
Can I suggest a path?
First, start with a conversation with yourself and God. Something along the words of David in Psalm 139. Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
That may be one of the most dangerous prayers you can pray. As God to reveal the secrets you’ve hidden away that just might be hurtful to you, others and your relationship with God.
If God reveals stuff, confess it… tell him… he already knows anyway right?
But secondly, start a conversation with your family. Talk about secrets, how they can change things. See where the conversation goes. It might surprise you. You just might bring more freedom and authenticity to your family that you thought possible.