Mental Health, Secrets and Spirituality


Secrets are everywhere.  Secrets are an insidious force that tricks us into thinking that they are good and healthy, but rather, secrets destroy us.  They eat away at our lives, silently and slowly tearing away at our spirits, souls and relationships.

I’m not talking about all secrets – like birthday surprises – but those truths that are kept hidden by uncertainty, shame, and denial.  Those truths that we are afraid will cause others to abandon us, that make us, or confirm that, we are broken or unacceptable.  Some of these secrets we know, and others our brains have are keeping them from ourselves.

Keeping secrets can itself cause destructive medical and mental health issues.  If the secret is about a medical or mental health issue – it can prevent getting the attention and help needed.  Not all secrets must be shared, but at least bringing them to the surface, examining them with compassion and taking thoughtful steps to address the situation will bring relief, if not resolution.

For my purposes here, I am not going to get into the specifics of medical, psychological, social, moral and other areas of secrets that are well covered by experts.  I am, however, accepting the finding that keeping secrets is bad for our health – and bad for our relationships.

In the book of Isaiah, chapter 59 discusses how God’s order is disrupted by lies, misdeeds and deceit.  These lies, misdeeds and deceit are often entangled with secrets.  These Scriptures speak directly to lives that are affected by secrets.  As long as we have a powerful truth hidden our of shame, uncertainty or denial, the efforts to hide that truth reverberate out into our lives, often through lies, misdeeds and deceit.  We think we are doing the right thing by hiding it and then wonder why our lives aren’t as God intended.

Because of all this, justice is far from us, and righteousness beyond our reach. We expect light, and there is darkness; we await a gleam of light, but walk about in gloom.  (Isaiah 59:9, CEB)

But how do we let go of these secrets?  It is impossible to talk in pure generalities as each situation, each secret, has it’s own story.  Yet each of these secrets prevents us from being who God calls us to be.

As Jane Isay, author of Secrets & Lies: Surviving the Truths that Change Our Lives, shared on MPR’s Daily Circuit, the secret she and her first husband shared kept them locked in a lie.  They were not living honestly as they decided the truth wasn’t worth loosing their professional and economic status.  Yet the secret ate at them physically and emotionally.  It was not until they both could unveil the secret could they walk in the light.*

But if we live in the light in the same way as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin. (1 John 1:7, CEB)

I believe that Jesus, through His life, showed us a different way to live.  Christ demonstrated as He walked among us, that nothing – including our secrets – should hold us back from living the life we were created to live.  We are all unique and amazing individuals, and God loves each of us.  1 John 1:7 speaks of Christ’s blood – but that is the blood that not only hung on the cross, but coursed through his veins as He revived the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-17) and freed a man from his demons (Mark 5:1-20).

“[I]f we live in the light in the same way as he is in the light, we have fellowship with each other.”

We have to tear apart these secrets that distort our lives.  We have to take them out of the darkness, examine them with compassion, and live our lives knowing that nothing is perfect, nothing is exactly as expected, but we are loved.

We don’t have to share our secrets from the rooftops, but we do need transform them into something that does not confine us to a world of shame and darkness.  You have a way out, we all have a way out.  It takes courage to take the first step, but you are not alone.  God – the One who knows your secret better than even you do – is with you and will continue to be with you on your journey.

If you are in need of assistance with a secret, find help now.  God does not want you to remain alone.


*I do not wish to imply that Isay and others in her life are Christian, but rather use this example of the situation expressed in the Scriptures.

Related posts/links:
Jane Isay’s website
MPR’s Daily Circuit discussion with Jane Isay
The Danger of Keeping Secrets
The Power of Secrets
Committed Parent – my all-time favorite resource for all things of the mind

May is Mental Health month.  Read my May 2014 posts if you are interested in learning more about the connection between mental health and spirituality.  Each contains some relevant links.  Also, click on an particular category or tag of interest.

Mental Health is a Spiritual Issues – post 1
Mental Health, Sensory Processing Disorder and Spirituality – post 2
Mental Health, Anxiety, Depression and Spirituality – post 3
Mental Health, Toxic Shame, and Spirituality – post 4
Mental Health, the Church, and Spirituality – post 5

About SFriant

I live to walk with others on their journeys - because everyone needs to know that they are loved, that they matter, and that they are doing amazing things. I'm a lot like our two kids: obsessed with learning, and constantly creating.
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