Secrets, secrets are no fun.
When I smoked pot for the first time the couple people who knew told me, “Whatever you do don’t tell your Christian friends! They’d freak out.”
When I casually made-out with someone on a date and told a friend about it they said the same thing. I agreed. My fragile and sheltered Christian friends surely could not handle the truth. They would jump to extreme conclusions and judge me for it. I had to protect my Christian image at all costs, even if that meant being dishonest.
In the months after being raped I made some possibly reckless choices. I had a series of casual sexual encounters. I told just one person, and their immediate reply was, “Whatever you do don’t share this information with your Christian friends. They won’t understand. They will just judge you. Trust me. This needs to remain a secret.”
The secrets in my life were piling up and it was getting to be more than I could handle. How could I have meaningful conversations with my friends without them knowing the real issues I was wrestling with?
As I was keeping my secrets I found my cynicism towards the church growing. When friends would post Bible verses or share what God was doing in their lives I would internally scoff. I hated the perfectly manicured image they crafted of their lives, smiling faces with simplified worldviews, ready to gasp in shock and rain passive aggressive judgment down on anything that fails to fit into their neat theological categories.
Then it dawned on me: I was cynically judging the Christian community. I was committing the same sin that I was certain they would commit.
I was judging friends for being judgmental before they had even judged me. (Phew, that’s an exhausting sentence.)
So I decided to just give honesty a try and tell my closest Christian friends everything. It was terrifying.
And here’s the deal: Being honest with people is incredibly liberating.
Secrecy breeds shame and isolation. Being honest may offend people. You run the risk of being judged and losing friendships. But what’s the point of preserving a friendship in which you cannot be honest?
I would rather share the truth, see some people scatter, and have a few remaining friendships that are authentic.
Although a couple people responded poorly, most of my friends surprised me. And it not only gave me someone to process things with, but it also prompted friends to me more honest with me in return. Turns out I was not the only one with secrets.
Have you read the Bible? If you recall, it’s full of murder, deceit, prostitution, adultery, and countless other kinds of disobedience. And these are the people of God doing these things, not the bad guys. I remember a professor summarizing the message of the Bible like this: Everybody screws up except Jesus.
So who are we kidding when we photoshop our lives? What’s the point? If we genuinely care about our relationship with God or making a difference in people’s lives, it’s time to own up to who we really are.
So stop caring so much about what people think of you. Stop covering up your sins. You may be preserving your tidy Christian image, but you are doing damage to yourself and to the church.