Secrets can kill.
It’s a pretty dramatic statement, isn’t it? I’ve seen it happen, firsthand. And it’s not a pretty sight, let me tell you.
For one thing, they are relationship killers. Now, I’m not talking about the I-bought-you-the-coolest-birthday-present kind of secret. More like the, there’s-something-you-should-know-but-I’m-not-ready-to-tell-you kind of secret.
The family I grew up in used to have a pet that we all hated and yet kept around. I’m not too sure why we would keep a pet that destroyed our happiness, but we did. He lived in the very center of our home, ate up any scraps of peace or joy, and ended up killing my parents’ marriage and then took both of their very lives.
It was the proverbial elephant in the room that killed our family. My parents acquired her, fed her well, and made a bed for her in the center of our house. She took priority over everyone else. And when she stood in the living room, we couldn’t even see each other around her. She was enormous and representative of all the secrets our family kept.
As a matter of fact, I’m thinkin’ that elephant had babies. The longer she lived with us, the more babies she had until we couldn’t even keep up with all those secrets and the poo they left behind.
But, let me tell you some good news I learned from my garden.
The most beautiful life can come from manure if it gets used well.
Secondly, secrets kill individuals. I am not being dramatic this time. It is literal. It starts with the littlest things that folks feel like they need to cover up. The thing they wish they’d never done that changes the fabric of who they are. The feelings they have that they keep to themselves. The things that build walls between married folks, parents and children, siblings, and friends. Those secrets are best friends with jealousy and bitterness, and let me tell you, those suckers can eat! The feed costs so very much, and ultimately kills all life around it.
Do you see, as I do, that holding in secrets and bitterness can affect a person all the way through to their physical health? If laughter is the best medicine than how much does negativity do the opposite?
Secrets are isolating and we were not meant to be alone.
We used to work with the youth at our church. Beautiful people with brilliant futures who brightened our world. All of them were weighed down by secrets, like backpacks full of weights beyond their capability to carry. Either their own that they were trying to cope with and didn’t know with whom they could trust, or those their parents were silently demanding that they keep.
Some parents knew their kids were living on the edge, yet sacrificed their child’s need to relate on the altar of image. By this, I mean, those parents were too scared to tell their own truths in an effort to relate, and in keeping those secrets their kids felt alone in the world.
Some parents forgot their children were people at all, and those are the saddest stories.
A secret is like a brick. One builds on another until someday there is no way around a giant wall.
Camouflage is a game we all like to play, but our secrets are as surely revealed by what we want to seem to be as by what we want to conceal.
I don’t know why I was supposed to write about secrets today. Honestly, I have felt God prompting me to write about it for about a week, and I dragged my feet because it seemed so out-of-the-blue.
But, hopefully, someone reading can relate. Maybe you’re exhausted with trying to feed that elephant-in-residence. Maybe keeping up with the poo-shoveling is wearing you out. Where to begin, you ask?
Well, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
I am increasingly surprised to hear about families that coexist more than enjoy each other. A group of people that face outward rather than focusing inward, on each other. Families that have forgotten that laughing and eating and playing frisbee together set a foundation for the big stuff–the big conversations that happen when trust is a given. When my heart is out in the open, it makes it safe for your heart to be there, too. Nothing is hidden or kept in the dark (’cause everything is scarier in the dark, isn’t it?).
If there is something between you and a friend, establish trust by being honest. Honesty, drenched in love, is the very best recipe. Communication from the heart beginning with vulnerability builds a lovely foundation.
If the secret is something between you and your God–something you need to face up to and deal with once and for all, trust that under the shadow of the cross you will always find open arms.
And then the elephant is vanquished and love is victorious.
No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a washtub or shoves it under the bed. No, you set it up on a lamp stand so those who enter the room can see their way. We’re not keeping secrets; we’re telling them. We’re not hiding things; we’re bringing everything out into the open.
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