"Don't ever keep family secrets...they are one of the most destructive things ever. If you want to build a healthy family, start now in the very beginning by building one that is secret-free."
Emerge Ministries many years ago. Larry and I were married a short time. The problems that led me to go to counseling at that time were not between Larry and I, but concerned healing from the past. I came from a broken home and Larry and I both had experienced situations in our backgrounds where family secrets were an issue. We needed not only coping skills but knowledge of how to proceed to build our own healthy family. I didn't want our new marriage to blow up in smoke because we didn't have the proper foundation from which to build so I quickly sought help for me...for us.
The counselor's words were life for me, for us -- for our marriage and subsequent family we would create. The counselor encouraged me that no matter what anyone experiences in their growing up years, every person has the opportunity and the power to create their own family. He told me excuses weren't acceptable and encouraged me to take responsibility for my own life and my own future family and obey the Lord for myself. The counselor looked me in the eye and said, "Your whole future is in front of you. You get a chance to do it right, and it's up to you what you are going to do with this opportunity." I learned that a person does not have to repeat cycles of dysfunction. If you came from a broken home, you don't have to repeat that pattern. You can be the generation that says, "it stops here". You can draw the line in the sand and you can say, "AS FOR ME AND MY HOUSE WE WILL SERVE THE LORD."
I am now blessed to have a healthy family that wholeheartedly serves the Lord together, and I am honored to be investing in other women's lives as I lead Celebration Women and particularly our life coaching group. Last month at our life coaching session, I chose to teach our ladies about the destructive power of secrets. I shared with them that there's a popular saying in therapy and recovery programs everywhere and that is, "you're only as sick as your secrets." When I shared that, one of our group members, Gunta McCaleb, piped up and said, "You know Pastor Deanna, that would basically means the more secrets a person has, the sicker they are." I encouraged the ladies that Gunta is right, there is nothing to be gained by secrets and God is raising up women in this hour who are transparent women who will live fearless lives and not be held captive anymore by the "skeletons" in their closets. We can live free! And we can build families that are free!!! For a family to be free, Moms have to be free. Mothers are the heart of a home. I am passionate about women living free lives. God is raising up women who not only don't care that somebody knows what happened to them in their past, what someone did to them or what they did, but those who will now be bold enough to stand up and publicly speak a word of hope to other women who are going through the same thing! God is looking for women who fearlessly uncover what they've gone through and how the power of God has delivered them so they can be a change agent in other people's lives!!!
When I think of people living a life of secrets, I don't see it as something attractive whether in real life or in the movies. Last year Savanna and I were watching a TV series together called, "The Secret Life of the American Teenager." I know this show is popular with many teens and some parents haven't even let their kids watch it but I saw it as a teaching opportunity to watch it with my daughter and share our thoughts about it and how biblical truth stacks up against what is on the show. So many times during the series as we were watching I turned to her and said, "See Savanna...there are so many secrets in this show and people are basically living very sick lives. We want to avoid this for our own lives at all cost." Whether on TV or reality, secrets aren't healthy for anyone. I want my daughter to choose freedom too.
I endeavor to live a secret free life as far as it depends on me. I'm sure some of you wonder, "How in the world do you do that? You're in the ministry. Don't you carry a lot of other people's secrets let alone your own?" There is a difference between confidentiality when professional situations call for it, and secrets. There is also a difference between discretion and secrets. Be careful to know the difference. What some people called discretion back in the old days was really just a cover up for pride.
The Word of God says, "So then, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you will be healed." James 5:16 Some people walk around living broken for many years and wonder why they can't quite get it together no matter how hard they try. The truth is that covered things don't heal well. Think about when you have a cut on your body. You might clean it with peroxide or alcohol, then apply some antibiotic ointment and use a bandaid. That bandaid being on there for a few days is a good thing but if you left it on forever it would never heal. At some point the injury needs to be exposed to the air, to have complete healing. Our lives are like this. We can shove things down all we want but the truth is it never heals or goes away, it just festers until one day you explode.
I have seen this time and time again in my ministry. I could tell countless stories but one of the ones that best describes this principle is a church where I was ministering one morning there was a dear elderly lady playing the organ. I preached about this subject and at the conclusion she slid off the organ bench and came to the altar for prayer and I met her there. She collapsed, weeping into my arms for a long time. Then she told me that most people in her life never knew and that no one in the church knew that she had a secret. Back when she was just a teen she had a child and placed them for adoption at the insistence of her parents. She moved to a new city and tried to forget all about it. She never shared her feelings over this with anybody or went to counseling, she was just advised by her parents to forget it, but she couldn't. She said she thought about "the secret" every day of her life but just never shared it with anyone, until that day at the altar. She felt such a cleansing as we prayed and I believe she was made whole that day. She asked me what if anything she should do about the situation once we were finished with our time at the altar. I said, "this is the kind of thing where you have to really be led by the Holy Spirit. I can't give you the answer to that but you can pray and the Word says He will give you the wisdom." She prayed about it and in the coming weeks she shared about this with some ladies in her church as well as her pastors. Now, here's an amazing turn of events that is just unbelievable, but after all those decades of time, just less than a month after I preached at that church this woman received a phone call out of the blue. She never did anything to prompt it, but her telephone rang and the voice on the other end said, "My name is Susan, and I think you might be my biological mother." The lady called me and said, "Can you believe the timing of this??!! What if I wouldn't have responded at the altar that day? I wouldn't have been ready for this." She went on to say it was amazing how God in His providence knew that Susan would be calling and that she would have a decision to make and he wanted to pave the way for some people in her life, especially in the church, to already know about "the secret" to get it out in the open and get her on her way to emotional healing before she met her daughter, which they did very shortly after that phone call.
The Lord spoke to me years ago and told me this: "Deanna the things that once threatened to break you in life will one day be the platform that you stand on to speak and declare my glory." I've seen that come to pass countless times. I believe this coming Saturday will be one such time! I've been invited to come and preaching at the "Girlfriend Konnection" at the House of Prayer Church in Tampa, and they have specifically asked me to share about freedom. God has been faithful to His Word, to break the chains off our people's lives as I use the platform He has given me to declare His goodness.
So...I know some of you may think, "What about when you live transparently and people talk about you in a negative fashion because now they know things about you that might not have been your finest hour?" My answer to that is, the kind of people who talk are always going to talk. That's who they are. That's what they do. They've chosen to be who they are. You might as well choose who you are as well. Don't let somebody else make the choice for you.
Living free is a wonderful thing because the devil nor people have any leverage on you. What power is there in somebody letting a cat out of a bag that has already been running around for years? It's old news that everyone knows so no one cares. That goes along with something else the wise counselor told me: WHEN SECRETS ARE EXPOSED THEY LOSE THEIR POWER.
Another thing that I have realized is that the only people who get upset about people who are transparent are people who AREN'T FREE!!
That first counselor I saw wasn't my last one. I've been a few times to work out problems I couldn't solve on my own. It's the best thing I ever did! Health, wisdom, wholeness came through the perspective of someone else much wiser than I was on these issues. I don't shy away from telling people I've been to counseling. In fact, I have always openly told the church, "I've been to counseling multiple times. If you want a pastor who hasn't been to counseling, I'll refer you to a few thousand other churches where you can go that the pastors won't admit that they've been to counseling..." LOL Incidentally nobody has ever left the church over it or seemed one bit upset that I've admitted this. Nor have they been phased that I've confessed any weaknesses or failure. In fact they seem to love me all the more when I do or find it endearing.
Yes, living free is not only good, but I have come to understand that Christian growth demands it. Be free friends, be free! The less secrets you have, the healthier you are.