While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. - Psalm 32:3-5 (NRSV)
I tend to eat my secrets. The things I can’t say get baked into cakes or lumped into mashed potatoes and are transformed into the love handles that hang unlovingly over my jeans. The feelings I can’t share, the actions of which I am ashamed, are sweet going down. For a while, I believe I have locked them in the vault of my stomach. But soon the secrets return, demanding ice cream.
The psalmist has the opposite problem, but I don’t envy him. Whether we eat our secrets, or starve them, or drink them, or scream them, or sleep with them, the results are the same.
Secrets are destructive. To families. To congregations. To bodies. They divide us. They drive us to avoid each other. They make understanding impossible. Secrets zap our strength and lay heavy on us as the hand of God.
But here’s the secret about secrets. They are never as powerful as when they are hidden. The moment they are shared, they begin to waste away. Want to test it? Do what the psalmist does. Start with God. Put down the cake, and say a prayer! Share your secret, and let the healing begin.
Knowing God, free us from the burden of our secrets. Heal us from the notion that we must face our brokenness alone.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.