Have you ever had a friend or relative ask you to keep a secret? The idea that someone would trust you enough to let you in on something so personal in their lives makes you feel accepted and part of an “inner circle”. Sharing something so intimate creates a type of bond, or camaraderie reserved only for the closest and most trusted people in their lives. Once you learn this secret information you feel a responsibility to keep it private. After all this person is trusting you with information that is reserved only for those closest to them. Once this information was revealed, however, did it make you uncomfortable? Hence, secrets destroy trust.
What do you do when secrets in your relationship have made it nearly impossible for you to cope? Rarely does a secret have a positive effect. That which is done in the light does not need to be kept secret. We learn in John 3:19-21 that “God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
With this in mind, why would anyone choose to keep secretes? Usually it is to cover activities or behaviors that are not appropriate, or that do not align with Godly behavior. Think about it, if there was nothing to be ashamed of why would it have to be “kept quiet”?
Now I am not saying that there are not times that secrets are not innocent, such as planning a surprise birthday party for someone. Or at Christmas, the gifts we buy are kept secret so that we may surprise our loved ones on Christmas morning. These secrets are not meant to harm anyone, but to bless them with our generosity and our desire to bring them joy. But few secrets truly bless anyone. If once the “surprise” is revealed, it does not bring joy, it should never have been kept a secret in the first place. The bible tells us:
“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Before keeping a secret ask yourself if this information, if made public, would bless or encourage another. If the answer is no, you may want to examine why it must be kept secret. Or whom the truth might hurt.” Ephesians 4:29
You might say that keeping a secret is to protect someone. But is it really? Or is it to protect your own pride. Consider a woman who does not want her child to know the true identity of his or her biological parent. Perhaps the pregnancy resulted from poor decision making and the father has never, and likely never will, be part of that child’s life. In fact, she has remarried and her new husband is the only father that child has ever known. Should she give up her secret? Most likely there are other family members who know the truth. It is possible that this truth could be revealed at some point in the years to come bringing shame, humiliation, and mistrust?
What happens if the father has a change of heart years later and wants to re-enter his child’s life? These things do happen and having the situation swept under the rug only makes it more difficult to contend with later.
We all make mistakes in life but trying to maintain secrets to protect our own pride or selfishness is like trying to cover a lie. You have to continually make excesses, always waiting for the truth to surface. You find no peace continually looking over your shoulder wondering who in the family may at some point, intentionally or not, spill the beans. This becomes bondage. Just what the enemy wants. Satan loves secrets because he understands the nature of their destructiveness.
No, the fact is, secrets are more often than not a way to cover up inappropriate behavior. Think about the wife that buys a new dress, shoves it in the closet and brings it out months later.
Secrets Destroy Trust | Lifestyle Examples
When asked about the dress by her husband she comments that she has had it for months. Is it a lie? Well, technically no, but she did buy it, in secret, without his knowledge. The only reason to do so would be if she believed that her husband, for whatever reason, would not approve of her buying it. Therefore, by purchasing the dress “in secret”, her behavior has become deceptive, and deceptions breaks trust. Without trust you cannot have a healthy, solid, Godly relationship. So when it comes down to it, is a dress really worth placing a wedge between you and the person who is supposed to mean the most to you in your life? More importantly, is this the way God would expect you show respect to your husband?
Strong relationships depend on honesty. According the book, Love and Respect, Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, Respect is what men most value in a relationship, while Love is most important to women. Now is keeping secrets from one another truly showing love and respect? Absolutely not. As a wife, would you respect a man who spends hours on the internet looking at pornography. He does this in secret because he know his wife would not approve. Affairs start by secret contact. If you are involved in an activity that you know your spouse would not approve of, you simply should not be doing it. Once trust is broken in a relationship it is very difficult to get it back.
Some situations could break trust in a person to the point where it not only disrupts their current lives but their future as it can alter their whole perspective of people in general. Secrets destroy trust within the live’s of our children. Once trust is broken, they may never completely trust anyone again permanently effecting future relationships.
Those who violate children do so in secret. Again, they use the manipulation to gain the child’s “trust”. They may use guilt to keep the child from telling or they may use fear and intimidation telling them that something bad will happen if they tell, or that their parents or siblings may be harmed. Many times they are bribed. Anything to get the child to keep the secret. Again, only to hide inappropriate behavior. Notably, such secrets destroy trust.
Children learn about secrets and trust at a very young age. Where do they learn such behavior? They usually learn it from us. Buying your child a toy and then telling them ,”shh, don’t tell daddy”, is not only teaching them to lie, but also teaches them disrespect. We must teach our children that telling secrets is very much like lying. Once they are comfortable telling small fibs, then it is just a matter of time before they become comfortable telling bigger and bigger ones until finally it simply becomes a way of life. Satan loves lies. He is on a mission to destroy and he knows the serious impact of lies. Secrets are a favorite of his.
So the next time someone asks if you can keep a secret, perhaps your answer should simply be, “NO!” Remember, “secrets destroy trust.”
Feature photo by Xavier Sotomayer