Friday, August 17, 2007

Keeping Secrets, Bearing Light, and Holding Grudges

Don't ask God to show you something if you're not ready to see it.

See, there's this Secret in my extended family of origin. A few months back, I felt very convicted to share it. To spill the beans, as it were. There's only one member of my family that doesn't know the Secret, and if he/she knew it, it would change everything for him/her. If the Secret wasn't a secret anymore, it would set a lot of people free.

The older adults in my family (my parents' generation) were sworn to secrecy about all this when I was only 5 years old. So really, I inherited the Secret. No one asked me if it was okay with me---if I was willing to keep silent. I didn't find out the truth until I was 23 years old. The result? I felt like my parents had lied to me my whole life long. Like they didn't trust me enough to be honest with me. It took me years to work through that perceived betrayal.

The truth? They were enslaved to their word to the Secret Keeper. They said they wouldn't tell.

Recently, I realized I was enslaved to the Secret Keeper as well. It made me uncomfortable. More than ever before.

I thought, "I never said I wouldn't tell. Did I? If I told this one member of our family the truth, then ALL of us will be free to talk about it. To heal from it. To be honest and open with each other. To be authentic."

Sounds like a good thing, right?

I started this journey of the restoration of my soul a long time ago. Facing the past---and all the pain that comes with my particular past---has been a slow process, a constant ache, a dusty journey. There have been such shining moments of healing. Usually, those moments happen only after I realize the brokenness that needs to be restored. Betsy calls it "walking into the pain." If I'm going to come fully alive, that means feeling all of it---everything I've been disengaged from, good and bad, comfortable and uncomfortable, truth and lie.

So I found myself facing once again this Secret that hurts my family so, that keeps us enslaved, chained to the bitterness and helplessness caused by one person's choices and its aftermath.

And I wanted to tell.

Realizing that the spilling of this 37-year-old secret would change the entire landscape of my extended family, I waited. I asked God to tell me what to do. I asked Him why it was making me so uncomfortable now in particular. I asked the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth like Jesus promised (John 16:13).

You know what He showed me?

I am a grudge bearer.

All this time, I've been striving to be His Light bearer (thank you, Mark Green). Truthful with others, truthful with myself, representing Jesus well. In actuality, I've been holding others hostage to the past, especially if it's hurt me.

This family Secret Keeper has hurt me. And my folks. Many times. Even now. Keeping this Secret sucks the breath out of me sometimes. Because now I've become part of the lie, the representation that "it's nobody else's business" and "it doesn't matter anymore."

If it doesn't matter anymore, then why do we still keep the Secret? Why do we continue to let the bitterness grow roots down deep? I was so righteous in my indignation over the travesty of this injustice, the keeping this one person in the dark. If the truth were told, it would explain many things to this person; it would release this person from blaming himself/herself for things that happened before he/she was even born.

The TRUTH is that I wanted the Secret Keeper to pay for how he/she is hurting my folks, for how he/she is hurting me.

I thought I wasn't hurting anymore because I've let go of the Secret Keeper's opinion of me. My value and self-worth is in God's opinion of me. I've worked really hard at gaining that perspective.

Then the Holy Spirit guided me into ALL the truth. He showed me my own pettiness and depravity. And it stopped me cold.

Who do I think I am, to wield the power of judgment and justice that belongs only to a loving God who sees all the truth, who knows all of our hearts as they truly are, not how we present them to others? Who am I to determine the time and place of shouting the truth of this complicated situation?

I can pray that God will bring the truth to light. I can pray that He will break this cycle of sin and devastation and secrecy in my extended family. I can pray that He'll prepare my family member's heart for when he/she does hear the truth.

I can ask the family Secret Keeper's forgiveness. I can confess my sin, my attempt to hold him/her hostage to the past.

I can fall at the foot of the Cross and thank Jesus for His sacrifice that paid the debt for my depravity. I can trade these ashes for His beauty and wear Forgiveness like a crown. I can kiss the feet of Mercy and lay down the burden of holding the family Secret Keeper hostage to my pain. I can leave all of it---my sense of injustice and futility at keeping this Secret, my self-righteous opinion of how the Secret Keeper should handle his/her life and relationships, my heart's cry that God will fix my family----at the foot of the Cross.

So I did. I do.

I wipe the dust out of my eyes, let God heal this part of my heart, write a blog, and keep walking.


betsy said...

That's like eating powerful straight out of the can.

"Lawd!" Pheoby breathed out heavily, "Ah done growed ten feet higher from jus' listenin' tuh you, Janie (uh...Candi) Ah ain't satisfied wid mahself no mo'."

Candi said...

This comment cracks me up every time I read it!

Thanks, my Friend.