One of the most popular blogs in the world posts anonymous confessions from people sending postcards sharing secrets they’ve never told anyone.
Not just secrets, but confessions of fears, hopes, regrets, and desires.
Some are funny. Some are frightening. Some are heartbreaking, embarrassing, painful, silly, and repulsive.
People also occasionally send objects that represent their secrets. The most common: rings and razor blades. Heartbreak and shame. Here, you take it.
If you had a secret or hidden dilemma or embarrassment, and you felt the need to share, why wouldn’t you just tell someone? Tell a friend or family member. Tell a pastor or accountability partner. Or why have secrets at all?
And it’s easy to get their undivided attention. Just say, “I have something I need to tell you but you have to promise not to tell anyone.” Or start to tell them something and then stop and say, “Oh never mind, I probably shouldn’t say that.” Do either of these things and they will be utterly curious and attentive and push you to share.
So what’s the appeal of doing it publicly and anonymously?
And what’s the appeal of reading the secrets and pain of people you’ll never meet?
You keep quiet because opening the door to the real you is dangerous. Those who go through the door could be shocked at what they find. They could reject and shame you. You feel shame just knowing someone might reject you. Plus, seeing what’s inside could hurt people you care about.
Rejection and shame and hurting people is scary.
Yet deep down we want to connect and be known.
When we read the secrets of others we don’t feel so alone. Everybody experiences some kind of pain, regret, heartbreak, confusion, shame. Thank God I’m not the only one. But it’s still hard to believe. It doesn’t really count until someone you love engages the real you that you’re hiding.
Hiding is the short term easy way. You avoid the risk of rejection, shame, and embarrassment. And you avoid the risk of hurting or disappointing someone you love.
But you also avoid doing anything about the thing you’re hiding. Since no one who matters knows, you can leave things as they are (as long as you can stand the pain). You stay in the painful hiding place. This isn’t good for people.
What IS good for people is experiencing this:
“I love you no matter what. I accept you despite that thing you want to hide. You can’t shock me or drive me away. I’m here to stay.” The dangerous place transforms into a safe place.
The safest place on earth is not the PostSecret website. It may be safe but it’s a neutered safety. You won’t experience judgment and rejection there, but you also won’t receive the true love and acceptance you’re hungry for.
Your family is designed to be the safest place on earth
Yes, it can be the scariest place: rejection from a stranger is way easier than rejection from someone you love.
But it can also be the awesomest place: acceptance and grace for the real you from someone you love is powerful and liberating.
You family is designed to be a place of honest vulnerability without rejection. Disagreements without anger. Foolish mistakes without embarrassment. Failure without shame.
The place where they know you best yet love you most.
An encouraging place to launch, and a soft place to crash-land.
Even if you feel your family is far from a safe place, you can make your corner safe. Be unshockable, but be shockingly graceful. Show that you believe this family place is safe by being vulnerable yourself. Grace and vulnerability are contagious.
For you and for those you love, your family is designed to be the safest place on earth. Commit to cooperate in your corner with the one who designed it that way, and he’ll move heaven and earth to make it true.