Why do we share our secrets? Those who seek to control us often hold our secrets over our heads. Well, maybe these facts aren’t really secrets, but they are things we don’t want advertised to others. Failures, fears, desires—these are things that betray our vulnerability and often open us to manipulation.
One of the surprises I learned as a pastor was how many people would come to me and tell me their secrets. I didn’t ask and I didn’t need to know, but they wanted to tell me. I used to wonder why they told me those things. Then I began to understand why people tell their secrets.
Often people tell their secrets as a test to see if the other person will still love and respect them. Once the “real you” is revealed, then you will know whether you can trust that person with your love and loyalty. The problem, of course, is that when you tell them your secret you are already trusting them. You have already given them the means to hurt you and you have no real right to be angry when they betray you.
Another reason people share their secrets is to bind the other person to the relationship. Instead of seeking love by sharing secrets, this is demanding love because secrets have been shared. The one who shares the secret thinks, often in error, that he or she holds some power over the other person. If the other turns away from the relationship, he can be castigated as a traitor or a user.
A secret is a burden. It weighs on the bearer and we want to be rid of it. When we share a secret it can be an invitation to help us carry the weight or it can be an attempt to shift some of the burden to another person. This is why we often begin to understand that the person who shares her secret wants the secret to be known. A secret that has been revealed is no longer a burden. It may be a shame or a challenge, but the weight of the secret is gone. Often those who tell others their secrets subconsciously want those secrets to be revealed.
But revealing a secret so that the weight is gone is different from revealing it so that others can use it to hurt or manipulate. When we deal with legalists or narcissists, those secrets are often stored away to be brought out at times when they want to control us. They become threats over us or revenge against us.
So why share your secrets? I understand that there are times when this is necessary. A church needs to know if you have a conviction of child abuse before they put you in almost any leadership position. A prospective spouse should know about the child you had in a previous relationship. There are times when sharing truth about yourself, even painful truth, is important. But you are under no obligation, even as a Christian, to share with anyone who does not need to know.
Jesus knows and He still loves you. He watched you do whatever you did and He loved you right through it. He invites you to bring your burden to Him. You might be surprised at how your burden is lifted when you come to Him and just tell Him what He and you already know. Tell Him your feelings associated with the secret. Tell Him the pain you feel, or the anger, or the fear. Tell Him even if you think you would probably do it again under similar circumstances. He knows and He cares.
For the most part, let your secrets be between you and the Lord who loves you.