How many times in your life has someone leaned over to you and whispered a secret in your ear? How many times have you turned around and told someone else, even though you promised you wouldn’t? For some of us keeping secrets is easy. It’s what we do; for others…it’s like climbing Mount Everest. I would definitely put myself in the later category. My mother used to complain because every time I did something wrong I would feel compelled to tell her. I’m what you call a “sharer”. But there are other people who hold their secrets close, they guard them as if they are a precious treasure. If you live with someone like that, it can be a challenge. As someone who probably over-shares, it sometimes feels as if a person keeping a secret from me is using it as a form of power. “I know something you don’t know.” But I can hardly fault them for not telling me if they know I’m for sure going to tell someone else.
The thing about secrets is that there is a time, and a place…my kids know that if they tell either parent something, even in secret, that parent will eventually share it with the other parent. Why? Because David and I don’t have secrets from each other. And even for a known sharer like myself, there are some secrets that you just know, once told in confidence, are never yours to share.
God tells us to keep secrets too. I’ve been reading The Sermon on the Mount this week. In in we are called to love our enemies, and give to the needy, and to pray, and fast. But he calls us to do many of these things “in secret”. Soooooo hard!!! If I do something nice, I want to run home and tell Dave, to show him, to show someone what a good person I am. Kind of sums up the world we live in right now doesn’t it? We want other people to know that we are good, and kind, and righteous. We want everyone to know that we will vote for the right party, give to the right charity, believe in the “right” things. We seek acceptance from our friends, our neighbours, our co-workers. We look for it from social media in the form of re-tweets and Facebook “likes”. We are all guilty of it to some degree. Yes, even those who don’t have social media. But the problem with our drive to get those likes, is that we will never get enough.
Every single one of us has a hole inside of us yearning to be loved and liked that can only be filled in way. Social media will tell you that to be happy you need to love yourself, to put yourself first. But I would argue that even you can’t love yourself enough to fill that void. The only thing big enough to fill up the void within us is God. And the reason is, because that void was created to be filled by Him. Some people try to fill up that space with things, others with food, or money, or people. But if you have a place in your heart that you are struggling to fill, the only “like” you need is from a friend named Jesus.
I think that’s part of the reason why Jesus tells us to pray in secret, to give to the needy in secret, to fast in secret… because only then does it become something we are doing to live like him, to deepen our relationship with him, and with our heavenly Father, and not something we are doing to be validated by other people. When we are truly doing something for the right reason, we don’t need to broadcast it, because our Father in heaven already knows. You feel it in your heart, that He is the only one you need to look to for validation.
This is something I’m going to continue to struggle with, but it’s also something I work on. I try to set myself a goal to not overshare. Maybe it’s okay that I share with Dave. Knowing I did, or didn’t do something good won’t really change his opinion of me. Much like my Father in heaven, he loves me unconditionally.