Monday, January 02, 2006

The Secrets that Kill

Philip Yancey writes in Christianity Today in a recent essay about the homeless and mentioned in passing that the homeless commonly suffer from attachment disorder, which leaves men and women with a variety of social adjustment issues. One of these that Yancey related was a tendency to be tormented by deep and dark secrets:

After 25 years of ministering to the homeless, John, a trained counselor, has a theory that many street people suffer from attachment disorders. In childhood, they never learned to bond with parents or other people, and never learned to bond with God, either. They find it difficult to commit, to open up to another, to trust. They see the world as an unsafe, alien place.

John noted the ripple effect of this disorder: "Sometimes the people I work with go crazy, literally insane, because they can't stand being alone with their dark thoughts and secrets. A friend of mine ran a street ministry similar to ours. He had secrets about failures and financial pressures that he never told anyone. One day, his wife walked in the front door and found her husband, my friend, swaying from a rope attached to the banister."

I can relate to how difficult it can be to share secrets that inspire shame and a sense of failure. For me, having a wife whose unconditional love creates a space to safely share those secrets has been beyond helpful. But I know what it's like to feel alone with my dark thoughts and fears, and it truly is not enough to open your heart only to your God. Part of the reason that we are asked to "confess your sins, one to another" is because we will typically find when we do so that we are not as alone in our sin and failure as we think. When we share in our successes and failures, when we zero the delta between what the world sees in us and what we truly are, we can live with a sense of freedom and security knowing that we are not unique in either our successes or our failures, no matter how exhilarating the victory or shattering the defeat.


At 11:35 AM, Blogger trent@ said...

This is where it is at .... life to the max. No more faking ... we can even boast in our weakness. Amen!


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