Remember when keeping secrets was something to admire? When you were a kid, you learned that keeping secrets—especially about birthdays, school events, surprise parties and plans—was good.
As an adult, keeping secrets can backfire. Especially if your secrets are dark, harmful, and holding you back. Big or little, secrets affect your health and happiness—and not in good ways! Secrets have a negative impact on your relationships, forcing you to hide who you are and what you know, saw, or experienced. Secrets take up emotional and mental energy because they must be constantly monitored. They pop up without warning at the worst times and in unexpected ways.
Secrets have surprisingly negative physical effects. Research shows secret keepers are more likely to suffer from headaches, nausea, and back pain. Secrets weigh people down and tire them out. In one study, people with secrets found basic chores, such as carrying groceries, more physically burdensome. Research shows that secret keepers have lower motivation, well-being, and stamina.
You may think your secrets are worse than other people’s, but the truth is we’re all huddled in the same cave. Whether you’re dealing with childhood physical or sexual abuse, healing from an affair in a Christian marriage, or feeling guilty and ashamed about something in your past — someone just needs to turn the light on, to save us from the pain and shame of secret keeping.
And that someone can be you.
The secrets you hold are holding you back
You may be carrying secrets, burdens, doubts, fears, problems and pain that nobody knows about. Even if a few people do know—perhaps a family member or friend, counselor or oncologist, accountant or lawyer—they can’t make your problem disappear. Some valleys have to be walked through, some fires have to be experienced until they burn themselves out.
You may have to walk through your valley alone, but you don’t have to carry the whole load by yourself. You may have to grieve the pain and endure the fire, but you don’t have to suffer alone. You may have secrets and regrets, but you don’t have to stay buried in darkness.
Talk to someone you trust. Unburden yourself, share the load, and remember that simply telling the truth can ease the pain and shed light on the problem.
Even Jesus had help on His way to the cross! When people were crucified in Roman times, they had to literally carry their crosses to the site of their death. Jesus didn’t carry his wooden cross alone. He had help carrying the heavy, blood-soaked cross. He was too weak to carry it, so Simon of Cyrene—a Jewish man visiting Jerusalem for the Passover—was recruited.
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When Simon picked up Jesus’ cross, perhaps he felt the blood of Jesus, still red and warm. Perhaps Simon even touched Jesus’ broken body, still alive and trembling. Perhaps that moment of suffering changed Simon’s life forever.
Simon was an unsuspecting bystander, suddenly chosen to participate in the story of Jesus’ life and death.
And so are you.
You were never meant to carry your secrets, problems, doubts, fears, regrets and pains alone. Your crosses and secrets—seen or unseen—are sorrows and struggles that have the power to draw you so close to Jesus that you can smell, taste and feel His blood. The Holy Spirit has the power to heal and strengthen you, to reveal the Father’s glory through you…but only if you leave your burdens at the foot of the cross.
Another way to stop keeping secrets…
Talk to Jesus. Spill your heart and guts—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Ask the Holy Spirit (who I often call Ruach, which is the Hebrew word for wind, breath, or spirit) to fill your mind, body and soul. Ask the Father for help.
One of my favourite ways to spend time with Jesus is by talking about old times. “Remember when I had shoulder surgery, Jesus, and it hurt so much I could barely sit in the car for the 15 minute ride to church? Then you showed up during a worship song! That’s the first time I felt both physical pain and spiritual joy at the exact same time. That was so cool, Jesus. Do it again!”
Turn your face to God with hope and curiosity, remembering that you are simply returning His gaze. Know that Jesus is leading the way, the Holy Spirit is strengthening and sustaining you, and our Father is always right beside you.
With His love,
New on She Blossoms
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