Some people don’t keep secrets. This is weird to me. I’ve always kept secrets. That was how I survived.
Some families don’t keep secrets from each other. This utterly disrupts my schema for what a family should be. My family kept secrets. At least, we did not invite each other into the deeper parts of our lives. That was how we survived. How we kept ourselves safe.
I recognize my tendency to be secretive and I work against it. But the work is hard. I get really excited to open up a sacred part of myself to another, but I’m also terrified. The tension is that I want to be accepted by a person and loved but I’m reluctant to reveal all of myself. What if the person goes away? What if the person hurts me more?
Same with groups. I want more than anything to have a group to call me home. Family. Something to be a part of. But the idea of having a whole group of people looking into my inward soul and knowing me through and through…sometimes it’s easier being physically naked.
I’m good at secrets and I hold to them. I think to myself that it’s normal. That everyone has a broken they hide from everyone.
But maybe I’m wrong.
There are people I know that don’t keep secrets. Whole families, whole groups that tel each other everything and invite each other into the deeper bits of themselves. Groups that know each other, explore each other, advise each other, rely on each other…
…maybe I don’t have to keep secrets anymore.
For in keeping secrets, I keep myself cut off and alone. When I am alone, I am in control. Or so I think. There’s still the matter of being slave to my secrets.
I didn’t open up to my family as a kid because I didn’t want their control in my life. I didn’t trust them to have my best interests at heart. Keeping myself a secret was better because, even though I was alone, I was safe. And I still do this! I still succumb to the urge to hold myself back from the people who want to love me because I’m afraid of anyone controlling me.
And I see. And I learn. This is not the way of peace.
What if we didn’t keep secrets? What if we were open about who we are? What we like, what we dislike. What is easy, what is hard. Where we are brave and where we are afraid. Strong and weak. Captive and free. What if we could reveal the darkest broken bits of ourselves and know beyond doubt that we would not be further shattered? That we’d be welcomed with love and nurture? That in the arms of God’s people we’d find only welcome and healing? What if we didn’t have to be afraid of each other? What if we weren’t afraid of ourselves?
I dream of such a world.
The way of peace is not a secretive one. The peaceful person does not isolate because she is not afraid of herself or of others. The peaceful community is made up of people who are open. People who are willing to face themselves and reveal what they find and people who are willing to treat very gently the precious things they are shown. Things from deep within the heart. Dreams. Wounds. Questions. In peace there is openness and trust. To arrive at this place is wonderful and to stay there is life.
Getting there is a terrible risk. We cannot know that this kind of relationship exists unless we take the risk to experience it for ourselves.
May God make us a brave people, brave enough to look inside ourselves and expose what we find. Brave enough to be kind to others when they open themselves to us. In this way, we create a safe space for healing, a safe space where we encounter God.