Secrets sabotage relationships like poison destroys the body. When we keep secrets, we do damage to the relationships with the people we keep these secrets from. Whatever we are hiding becomes less damaging than the fact that we are hiding something at all. The secret ruins the relationship not the thing that is kept secret.
I think that’s why Paul said,
“Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”
(2 Corinthians 4:2 NIV)
When we keep secrets, we don’t believe that we are loved as we are. We don’t believe we can be forgiven. We don’t believe in grace. We succumb to the belief that our weakness, our brokenness, our failures are too embarrassing. We are too bad or too selfish or too shameful to be accepted by the person from whom we keep the secret. In this passage, Paul was tempted to cover up his ministry failings to be more appealing to the Corinthians, but this would have minimized God’s grace and call in his life. It would have meant that his success and not the gospel was the foundation of his identity and ministry. When we keep secrets, it is a sign of sickness in our own self-understanding.
That’s why we renounce secrets with the antidote of confession. In order to confess we must believe in grace. We must trust in forgiveness. We must find our worth in God. He accepts us, not because we are flawless, but because his love is unconditional.
Confession is never easy though. It’s never easy to admit to our spouses that we were wrong. It’s never comfortable to confess we were selfish. It never feels good to shine the spotlight on our darkest moments. And that’s why, I have to regularly remind myself of the insidious nature of secrets and the transformative power of confession. The practice of confession is the pathway into grace. It’s the place where secrets are destroyed and healing happens for my soul.