For some reason, people tell me their secrets. I don’t solicit the secrets and often don’t know what to do with them. I sometimes even wish people wouldn’t tell them to me. They continue to tell me their secrets not because I’m so wise or know so much. And I don’t think it’s because they think I can “pass a miracle.” Perhaps when you have a deep and authoritative voice (I do) and you’re old (I’m as old as dirt), people kind of think of you as a Yoda figure. It could be that really needy people only feel comfortable telling their secrets to other needy people. It might be that I’m fairly unconditional. After all, when a person has as many sins and secrets as I do, he or she doesn’t throw many rocks. But for whatever reason, all kinds of people tell me their secrets.

Frederick Buechner (the American writer and theologian), among others, has said that when we tell our secrets to someone else or even to ourselves, those secrets lose their power. I have a friend who says that one must “kiss the demons [of our lives] on the lips” before they can be “defanged.”

Surprise and Relief

When people tell me their secrets, my response is often: “So? You thought that Jesus didn’t have to die for you? You thought that God sent a rule book and told you to follow it or else? You thought you surprised a God who had perspiration on his upper lip and high hopes for your success? You thought you could speak as an outsider of the human race?”

The response I mostly get is one of surprise and relief.

When was the last time that surprise and relief were your reactions to God? In other words, how’s it working for you so far?

Let me ask you a question: Aren’t you tired of pretending to be something you’re not? What if you just came out and said that you’re not doing so well, that you’re struggling with goodness, that you’re having trouble with being all that people want and think you should be? What if you just came out and said, “I’m tired of pretending to be something I’m not. From now on, you’ll have to deal with a sinner who sins, who is needy, and who, even if trying, isn’t doing very well sometimes”?


Adapted from Steve’s book, Three Free Sins

Published by Howard Books, copyright 2012 by Steve Brown. Used by permission.