Secrets Cause Sickness
Many people today are living with an unknown and undiagnosed infection that’s silently growing inside them, causing them pain and suffering. They’re afraid to think about it, talk about it, or let someone help them diagnose and treat it because they’re afraid of the process — and afraid of what might be revealed. As a result, their happiness, their productivity, and sometimes even their lives are threatened.
One of the most destructive emotional infections can be a dark, venomous secret hidden within one’s heart.
Maybe it’s an addiction.
Perhaps it’s a behavior. In her 2009 message to Women of Faith audiences around the country, my dear friend and co-worker Sheila Walsh shared how her discovery of her husband’s secret, out-of-control spending had wrecked their finances and destroyed the trust on which their marriage had been established.
It might be an incident that occurred sometime in the past that seems too horrific now to even think about, let alone share. You might not even actively remember the incident, yet it’s hidden there in your heart, oozing emotional and even physical infection capable of affecting every facet of your life.
Maybe it’s not even your original secret; maybe your life is infected by a loved one’s secret that you are desperate to keep secret too. Perhaps you’re a pastor’s wife, and someone in your family — perhaps even your husband — has made a mistake that would cause major upset if it were made known to the congregation. Maybe you’re convinced that if the truth were known, your husband would lose his job and your family would lose its home and its only source of income.
This kind of infection sourced in dark secrets can be lethal to your happiness, a roadblock to your contentment. Its poison can burple up through the layers of your emotions, undetected, to cause you to respond in bizarre ways to ordinary events — and then it can disappear as mysteriously as it appeared. Or its fermenting poison can permeate your daily moments silently and invisibly — until eventually the venomous infestation becomes completely disabling, precipitating an emergency response and sometimes revealing irreparable damage.
In short, secrets can make you sad — and even sick.
Healing Secrets to Live Abundantly
A sad, sick life is not what God had in mind for you when He first thought up the idea of creating you. That was a long time ago, by the way, before you were capable of conscious thought. Before your parents ever met. In fact, it was before Adam and Eve ever met. It was before everything!
John 17:24 says,
You loved me even before the world began!
And Ephesians 1:4–5 elaborates on that amazing fact:
Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us… God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure.
God thought you up before He flung the stars across the heavens, and that thought made Him happy. Then, several eons later, He sent His only Son to earth as a sacrifice to make sure, when you get lost, that you always have a way to get back home to claim your place in God’s family.
Jesus is that way. He told His followers He had come to earth so they could have “more and better life than they ever dreamed of” (John 10:10 MSG).
If God has been happily thinking about you since before the world began, and if Jesus endured hell on earth so that you could have a better life than you ever dreamed of, don’t you think you ought to do your part to make that high-priced, Heaven-inspired “better life” happen?
If that’s not the life you’re living — if your joy has been jarred out of socket by destructive secrets hiding within your soul — I hope this book will help you understand how sharing those secrets — those deeply hidden, too-awful-to-think-about secrets you thought you could never share — can help you achieve healing so you can live the better life God wants you to have.
I must acknowledge that there are secrets that are better left untold. For instance, if a loved one has died, is there any benefit in telling his or her grieving children about mistakes made years earlier — poor choices including such things as infidelities or wild behaviors during younger years? Maybe so, but probably not.
Theology and Psychology: a Perfect Fit
I have a master’s degree in counseling psychology and worked for years in the mental health field. I also taught women’s Bible studies for years. I believe Christianity and psychology are a perfect fit. Through my years of working with hundreds of clients, the fact was reinforced to me daily that psychology does not heal. Only God heals. But psychology gives us categories and helps us understand the origins of our psychic wounds. And when we understand the wounds’ origins, we become great candidates for God’s healing.
I don’t mean in any way to imply that God cannot heal you unless you have personal knowledge of your problem’s origin. God’s sovereign design ultimately trumps everything in our lives, including our core hurts and pains. And of course He already knows everything about us, including “the secrets of every heart” (Psalm 44:21). But countless times I’ve seen God use someone — a pastor, an empathetic friend, or a mental health professional — to help another person who’s stuck in denial, determined to repress the secrets that are wielding a powerful negative impact. His Word tells us God can “bring our darkest secrets to light and… reveal our private motives” (1 Corinthians 4:5). I believe that many times this is accomplished through the help of someone to whom the person entrusts his or her dark secrets.
The sharing of these secrets brings about healing because sometimes these hurting souls can’t see the source of their own pain and problems, and they wonder why life doesn’t work. Then that trusted, skillful listener comes along and helps them realize they can begin the process of clearing up an emotional infection by acknowledging its source — which is oftentimes a dark, destructive secret hidden away in their heart — and bringing it before the Healer.
One day last fall, seemingly out of the blue, Max Lucado Twittered out a Tweet that succinctly nailed another kind of emotional infection, fear. He reminded his fellow Tweeters, “It’s our duty to expose our fears, each and every one.” Max’s words arrived during the week preceding Halloween while I was putting this book together, and it tickled me to see his characterization of fears. They are “like vampires,” Max wrote. “They can’t stand the sunlight.”
Ditto, I might add, for secrets. Both are heinous villains that stand between us and the good, full, abundant life God wants us to have. But their power exists only when they remain hidden away in the dark corners of our hearts. They fade to nothing when dragged out, sometimes kicking and screaming, to cower before the Son.
We all have secrets, and as long as they stay hidden, they have power over us.
God seems to address that subject in Deuteronomy 32:7, when He told Moses to instruct the Israelites to “dig into the past, understand your roots” (MSG). Why is digging necessary? We need to understand the root causes of our behavior. That helps us make changes in our lives and to then ask God to heal what the digging reveals.
Before God called her home to heaven, my friend Barbara Johnson often said,
Secrets are to sickness as openness is to wholeness.
Go ahead, honey. Tell me everything.
- Are you aware of a dark secret that is impacting your life? How does it manifest itself in your day-to-day activities?
- What do you think would happen if you shared your secret with a trusted friend, pastor, or mental health professional? What is the worst thing that could happen? What is the best?
- How would your life change if the secret you are hiding could be resolved — if an addiction could be controlled or a destructive behavior could be stopped?
- Try to imagine yourself living without this secret lurking in your heart. How would your life be different?
Excerpted with permission from Tell Me Everything: How You Can Heal From The Secrets You Thought You’d Never Share by Marilyn Meberg, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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Don’t worry… We’re not going to ask you to share your deepest, darkest secrets right now. But, if you have a story to share with our community about what happened to you when you shined the light on a secret and found healing in Christ, please do! We want to set every woman free from the secrets that are making her sick and full of shame! Girlfriends, find someone safe and tell your story. The story. The whole story. We are praying freedom and health over you! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full