Giving Up Our Secrets
Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, “The cruelest lies are often told in silence.” Much in our world is deceptive and dishonest: the rhetoric of political campaigns, for example, or the propaganda of advertising, with its slanted facts and testimonials. In a time that makes us wary, we long for honesty that breeds trust and nurtures hope.“Whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.”
A woman once came to me for counseling. For the next two years, we wrestled through the difficulties in her life. She was living a lie, and she didn’t even know it. Secrets had twisted her in so many ways that she couldn’t even say what her problem was. But finally, God got through to her, wrapped his healing around her hurting heart, and took the kinks out of her troubled dreams.
When we first started counseling, the woman hid her pain behind clever tales and false fronts. She talks differently today. Her yes means yes, and she knows why. She doesn’t have to lie to God anymore, and she doesn’t have to invent stories for others. The doors of her prison have swung open. She has found God. She has found herself. She is free of secrets, and the way she talks shows it.
Straight talk is important in marriage. It is easy to distort the truth when we are doing the “dating dance” and wooing one another. We parade partial truths in hopes that some of our deeper secrets will stay hidden. The tipping point comes when we enter into the deeper relational stage we call “engagement.” An older term for that was betrothal, which literally means giving our troth, an earlier variation on the word truth. In other words, dating is playing games, but engagement, or betrothal, means we are now committing to truth. We are choosing to reveal more of ourselves so we can see each other wholly and love each other in wholesome ways.
The outcome of a good engagement is marriage, when, as Adam and Eve discovered, we find ways to be “naked and not ashamed” before each other. This is more than just undressing; it is the psychological honesty that allows us to meet one another in truth, peering into each other’s souls without embarrassment or threat of one of us walking away.
There may be times when too much honesty harms a good relationship, but it is hard to know how secrets can be part of a healthy relationship. God does not turn away from us when the secrets of our hearts are brought into the healing light of divine grace. Nor should we turn from those who trust us with the intimacy of private faults, disappointments, needs, and dreams. As Jesus reminds us in this brief parable about a lamp, “Whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.” Especially in marriage.
- How well do we know each other? How much can we entrust to one another? How are knowing and trusting related?
- What do we know about each other that no one else knows? How have we used that secret information in healthy and nurturing ways? How have we abused it?
- Are there secrets we keep from one another? Do we need to become more open with one another? How might we do that?