As a pastor, I am dealt confidential information frequently. People come to receive spiritual guidance and disclose information that is sensitive in some shape or form. My wife is a counselor and the same can be deemed true of counselors, loads of confidential information is exchanged between them and their clients.
Within the counselor/client privilege, there are certain times when what is said in confidence needs to be revealed. The ACA (American Counseling Association) Governing Council approved a code of ethics which specifically addresses confidential information. Part of the code reads, “The general requirement that counselors keep information confidential does not apply when disclosure is required to protect clients or identified others from serious and foreseeable harm or when legal requirements demand that confidential information must be revealed (italics mine)”.
But how necessary are secrets? If we are all honest, any secrets that we have will most likely not contribute to the rise and fall of a nation. National security will probably not be dependent upon what we know or don’t know, or whether or not we keep or tell secrets. But what else might be involved and at stake with secrets that we have? If we are keeping secrets, what happens when those secrets are exposed?
Jesus’ words to the disciples in Luke 12 were, “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” Everything will be revealed. This isn’t the only place within Scripture where this is explicitly stated.
While I was growing up, I remember being in meetings where people would be giving an “altar call” and would say something about the fact that we would all stand before Jesus and we would see a movie of our life played out in front of us. Not having lived many years, the thought was not quite so astounding to me as I hadn’t really done a lot of terrible things in the few short years that I had been on earth. But how would I react to that if someone said that to me today? What would I be afraid to reveal? What would I want to make sure that no one else knew? What secrets am I hiding?
There is something liberating about revealing your own secrets. In relationships, when this kind of disclosure takes place, the relationship arrives at a new place or level of intimacy. When secrets are revealed, it’s an indication that you feel safe around a person and are willing to take down the masks behind which you have been hiding. How often do we encounter such relationships?
If I’m really honest, I can only name a handful of people who know we well enough to see the warts of who I really am. As a friend of mine said the other day, if you really knew what some of my thoughts were throughout the day, you might be shocked and appalled. What secrets are we hiding?
Regardless of what we might think we are hiding from others or even ourselves, we cannot hide from God. That’s not meant to invoke feelings of guilt, but rather feelings of freedom. How much relief can we experience in knowing that the God who created us and saves us knows us intimately, regardless of whether or not we are trying to hide from him?
At some point, when we keep secrets, we will most likely find ourselves in a place of awkwardness, depending upon the depth of the secret. What happens if those secrets are exposed? We might hide things because we are concerned with what others might think about us, but the reality is that God already knows those secrets and he still loves us. What else should matter?
I’ve got secrets as I’m sure we all do, but how many? In a broken and fallen world, there will always be a need to maintain some of those, but remember, you can’t hide them from the God who formed and created you. That shouldn’t cause guilt, but give freedom. I am known by the One who created me and saves me, and he still loves me. Now there’s a thought that I don’t want to keep secret.