-SECRETS KILL: CHOOSE LIFE THROUGH HONESTY-
By Kevin Thompson
My heart breaks as I read the headlines of yet another life cut tragically short because he was found out. His secret was revealed, but not by his own choosing. The shock of sudden exposure likely made the offense seem even worse than it was. It was serious, but it shouldn’t have been deadly.
It’s a tragic pattern played out on a regular basis–a person of faith has a secret, the secret is revealed, and in desperation the person wrongly assumes his or her life is over. With one tragic act, the fear becomes self-fulfilling and a grieving family is left in shock and dismay. (See: As We Read the Headlines–a Few Reminders About Suicide)
It is all so senseless. So many times, the person who is exposed would be the first person to offer grace and hope to a person in a difficult predicament. However, when confronted by their own sin, they are unable to offer that same grace to themselves.
They are the land mines of our lives. They lay hidden beneath the surface until just the right pressure triggers the explosion. The blast can cause a direct kill or can create damage through shrapnel being thrown from the scene.
Secrets almost always start out small. A minor inconsistency is created between perception and reality.
The faithful father begins viewing inappropriate material.
The loyal employee fudges a small report.
The hard-working mother takes a secret drink.
But secrets rarely stay small. They grow at a seemingly insignificant rate until they suddenly multiply in an uncontrollable manner. Initially, they seem pointless, but suddenly they become unstoppable. Both conditions make them difficult to control until, one day, they are inevitable sources of destruction. The only hope of a person is to delay the damage because they know they can not completely bypass the pain.
Then, one day, they explode. (See: Four Lies to Never Tell Your Spouse)
A computer is left on.
A spouse becomes suspicious.
A text message is seen.
A co-worker gets an uneasy feeling.
Everything which was hidden is suddenly exposed.
Marriages die. Reputations die. Friendships die. And far too often, individuals die because they cannot stand the shame of being found out.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. (See: Two Steps to Solving 90% of All Relationship Problems)
Like a skilled combat engineer, we can disable the mines in our lives. The secret is honesty.
Honesty strips a secret of its explosive power. It doesn’t remove the pain. It doesn’t downplay the wrong-doing. It does minimize the damage. It lessens the negative energy of a sudden revelation.
As a leader (and a parent), I have a simple rule–it will be much better if you tell me than if I find out on my own. In nearly ever scenario, if an employee informs me of a problem, we can deal with it. In situations in which I discover a problem the employee knew about, the revelation negatively influences that person’s status. In each scenario, the problem is the same. But when secrecy is added to the problem, the result is an explosion.1
Our everyday life. Even when the secret is still hidden, it has lethal consequences. We are so busy trying to keep the secret hidden that we become paranoid. Everyday living becomes much more difficult because of the guilt and fear of the secret.
Sadly, secrets can have fatal consequences to others. How many families have had their grief multiplied because a secret account or affair is revealed at the funeral? How many crimes take place because one person stumbles upon another one doing something they shouldn’t? How many relationships end because trust can never be restored? Secrets are not just harmful to the one keeping the secret. (See: Do Not Commit Financial Adultery)
Us. Not only does the guilt and shame have negative impacts on our lives, when secrets are revealed they often result in our own death. It’s no accident that many people die in the months following a major revealation. From both suicide and the physical toll of shame, death can occur. As a pastor, I’ve seen several people die from the impact of a secret being revealed.
Knowing the damage of secrets, why would anyone keep something hidden? It’s because it is always easier in the NOW to keep something hidden rather than revealing it. However, it is always easier LATER if we honestly tell others what is taking place in our lives.
This divide–now versus later–is what keeps so many situations hidden.
But we must choose a different way. Honesty is found when wisdom meets courage.1
Wisdom is necessary so we can see the true danger which is building. It takes wisdom to discern that the hard choice today can lead to a better life tomorrow. It is a path the immature would never choose. Yet experience tells us we can endure pain today to bypass major drama tomorrow.
Courage is necessary because telling the truth is not always easy. Revealing our weaknesses and imperfections is a brave task. It’s worth it, but it is difficult.1
Sadly, the story I read today will be repeated tomorrow and every day after that. On a regular basis, secrets are revealed and deadly consequences follow. Thankfully, we do not have to be a victim. We can gain the wisdom and show the courage to live honestly. When we do, secrets will lose their power. (See: You Don’t Have to Do It On Your Own)
What are you hiding?
Who will you call in order to get help?