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Breaking the Silence of Secrets


“Mom and Dad, I have something to tell you.” These are words that all parents hear. The confession from our children that they took something that was not theirs or said something that was not true. 

Our children watch to see how we honor our own words. Do we jump quickly to the punishment, or are we willing to offer grace and forgiveness? In Psalms 32, we hear that keeping silence is a heavy burden that causes us to feel as if we are wasting away. 

A richer and fuller life is found in sharing with God and others, for it is in confession that forgiveness is found. Secrets, by their very nature, call us to isolation and silence, and it takes great courage to speak our secrets aloud. 

When I was struggling with some of my own secrets, my counselor made me promise to open up and share the secrets with three of my closest friends. Secrets make us fearful and shameful, and to live a joy filled and authentic life calls us to openness and vulnerability. 

Brene Brown in her book, Daring Greatly, writes, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful, spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.” 

When we live a life of authentic vulnerability, we offer to our children a model of courage. When we speak aloud our secrets, we ourselves will find help and hope.

There is a story in John’s gospel about a man named Nicodemus who comes to Jesus at night. Preachers often use him as a negative example, but I think Nicodemus had a lot of courage to come to Jesus for confession. His story is not over in this one narrative because we hear about him again at Jesus’s death. Breaking the silence of secrets begins with giving voice to those whom we trust and leads to a life of wholeness and healing. 

We are challenged as parents to be open and truthful, so that our children may grow to be authentic adults. ■

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30 Apr 2019


By Rev. Deirdre Halliburton, Associate Pastor of St. John’s United Methodist Church

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