I’ve got a question. What are the secrets in churches?
I believe that in churches everywhere, people have secrets. These are secrets that men and women have in their hearts. These secrets may involve feelings, questions, sins, past experiences, addictions, future intentions, etc.
Some of these secrets include:
1. The man who has always had some serious questions about the Bible. Is it really God’s word? How can I know this? How can I know there is a God and that he really loves me? What if I have doubts?
2. A woman continues to be impacted by a dark secret. She had an affair years ago while she and her husband were going through some difficulties. No one in her church knows this. She was never completely honest with her husband. The memory, guilt, and some nagging questions continue to haunt her.
3. A middle-aged man has always been brash and outwardly tough, yet no one can ever penetrate his emotional wall. His secret? Many years ago when he was an adolescent, he was molested by older teenagers. He reported this assault to a relative only to be told that he shouldn’t have been a wimp but should have been tougher.
4. A young minister is repeatedly told by church members how important it is to not offend people or do anything that might upset someone. Now some years later, he finds himself going along with whatever the influential people in his church want. He has lost any sense of who he really is. His secret? His true feelings, opinions, and desires are never expressed to the church. He continues to stuff his true thinking and feelings.
5. A woman grew up in a chaotic family. Her secret is her anger. She harbors such anger toward her mother and often feels great guilt for some of her thoughts. She tries to live a normal life but occasionally flies into a rage with her immediate family.
6. A husband and father is preoccupied much of the time with his next drink. He can’t imagine really having a good time where there is not some drinking. He looks for opportunities to drink and often drinks in secret. He thinks about drinking quite often. One would never know any of this by the image he projects at his church. This is his secret.
7. A longtime member of a church listens one Sunday morning as an elder in his church tells the congregation that anyone can come to these elders and talk and pray. Yet, he thinks to himself, “You say that now, but if you knew my secret, you would wish you had never said that.”
8. A middle-aged woman has some very real questions regarding a few of her church’s traditions and practices. She does not feel welcome to even raise the issue with the leaders of her congregation. She remains in the congregation because of lengthy friendship ties. She chooses to remain silent about the questions on her heart.
None of the above people have names. I composed these scenarios after reflecting on the many, many conversations I have had with people through the years. For years, I have heard people talk about what was really on their hearts and the difficulties of such secrets.
Each one of these secrets is a part of someone’s story. So often the story and the secret are never told. People can be a part of a church for decades and never utter a word about their secret. Consequently, such an important part of their story is never told to anyone.
Think about what you have seen and heard through the years. Think about the late night conversations over a cup of coffee with friends. Think about what you have observed from simply being a part of a congregation.
What are some of the secrets that exist in churches? (Remember these might be thoughts, feelings, sins, past experiences, addictions, future intentions, etc.)