Day 25 – Are There Any Secrets or Hidden Things You Would Like to Share?

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. (Rom. 8:1–2)

In recovery communities there is a common saying that we are only as sick as our secrets. It is often in the hidden places of our lives that many of our hurts, hang-ups, and habits (or addictions) reside. We often keep secrets because they evoke regret, shame, or negative feelings in us.

People often ask the difference between a sin and secret. A secret is not always a sin. Sometimes we keep secrets about things that have been done to us, difficult feelings we have, or challenging circumstances.

Columbia University wrote a report on an extensive study entitled “The Experience of Secrecy.” In it they define secrecy as, “an intention to conceal information from one or more individuals.” Not all secrecy is negative, as sometimes secrecy can be about protecting the confidentiality of another person, or at times we can withhold information because the social setting would not appropriately lend itself that disclosure. We all have secrets, so the question of secrecy is less about sharing with your band every detail of your life and more about your well-being. Do you have any secrets that affect your well-being?

An indicator of whether a secret is having an impact on our well-being is how frequently our thoughts wander to this secret (even if briefly). The research indicates that peoples’ minds often wander to secrets, even outside of moments in which they might be actively concealing them. When these thoughts around secrets pop into our heads, they can evoke shame or fear and cause us to feel inauthentic. Sometimes they can persuade us that we are fundamentally flawed and unfixable. For example, prior to verbally processing my experience of being abused as a child, the memory would flash across my mind. Often I was not fully aware that it was happening. I would have a sudden feeling like I was going to be struck on the back of the head from behind. It was not until after I began to process this experience in therapy that I even made the connection between this secret and the sudden impulses of fear I was experiencing in the present. While I still experience this feeling occasionally, it has significantly reduced, and I am much less afraid.

After doing research with more than two thousand individuals, the Columbia University study came up with thirty-eight categories of the most frequently held secrets that people keep. You may find them helpful in considering whether you have any relevant secrets from which you might need freedom.

  • Harming someone
  • Drug use
  • A habit or addiction
  • Theft
  • Committing an illegal act
  • Self-harm
  • Having an abortion
  • An experience of trauma
  • Telling a lie
  • Violating someone’s trust
  • Romantic desire
  • Romantic discontent
  • Extra-relational thoughts
  • Emotional infidelity
  • Sexual infidelity
  • Being the “other woman” or “other man” (i.e., in a relationship with someone who is themselves in a committed relationship)
  • Social discontent
  • Physical discontent
  • Mental health
  • Cheating at work or school
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Profession discontent
  • A marriage proposal
  • A surprise
  • A hobby
  • A hidden (monogamous) relationship
  • A family detail
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sexual behavior
  • Not having sex
  • A preference
  • A belief or ideology
  • Finances
  • Secret (current or former) employment
  • An ambition
  • A counter normative behavior
  • A personal story

An important aspect I want to convey is that when we include this question in the band we say a “secret or hidden thing that you want to share.” In other words, this is voluntary. For a season, I had a secret that I did not want to disclose to my band. However, facing that question each week became a grace in my life. I first disclosed the secret to a professional counselor. Then I was able to share it with my band. Eventually, I was able to share it with my wife. Though it was not easy, freedom and healing have come through something that I once felt I could never disclose.

Take your time with this. Build trust. Do not feel like you need to come and dump all of your stuff in one meeting. Creep deep over time. Deal first with things that you feel are having the most impact on your life. Always know that you have the option to share a secret with a therapist or more trusted source if you choose. The band is there to support you, not cause you guilt or place a heavy burden on you. The goal is experiencing freedom in Christ. Remember this: If someone shares a secret. Thank them for their courage. Pray for them. Declare freedom and forgiveness. Express love toward them.

The Prayer

Father, you know and see all things. There is nothing secret or hidden with you. God, you know those places where I am prone to hide and keep secrets. Examine me, God, and see if there be any place in my story where sharing a secret would bring freedom. Amen.

For Band Interaction

What do you think is the most challenging aspect of sharing a secret with someone else? Is it trust, fear, rejection, shame, or someone else finding out? Even if you are not ready to share a secret, consider letting your band know what apprehensions you would personally have about sharing a secret.