Proverbs 27:6 Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.
Some of the greatest dysfunctional crashes that show up in people’s lives are when a family secret is found out, or it has been unintentionally exposed. This can happen through a misspoken word, or when an innocent, or not so innocent statement is blurted out. “Oh, I thought you knew you were adopted. I thought it was common knowledge that your father had been in prison for embezzlement. Your mother died in an insane asylum, not a general hospital. Didn’t your father tell you that mental illness was a problem in the family?” Many have heard worse things and it changed their lives forever.
Most parents tell their children to always tell the truth. The children grow up to find out that they had been lied to their whole lives, because of a family secret that was covered up and deemed embarrassing or shameful. Psalm 44:21 Shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.
At that point, how do these parents ask their children to trust them? Their argument for the family deception is often, “I just wanted to protect the children’s hearts from getting hurt. Can’t they see that? We were trying to do the right thing.” Prov. 27:6 Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.
How does the family member who fostered the secret ask the other members of the family not to react in shame, mistrust, embarrassment, or deep-seated guilt? Depending on the weight and seriousness of the secret, the response can be devastating. The reaction within the heart of the one who was kept in the dark can be far more grievous than what was being covered up in the first place.
My father found out in his early twenties that his last name he had used throughout his life, was not the name on his new and real birth certificate he had applied for. To join the army, my father, needed proper documentation. That was when he found out there had been a family secret. The anger that arose in him because of this secret, caused him to hate and mistrust family members from that time on. Psalm 64:2 Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the throng of evildoers.
I don’t know all the reasons why my father became the angry, abusive, and peevish person he was. He had many abnormal problems going on in his mind and soul. He was a broken man who hit first and justified his cowardice behaviour with raging expletives. I think the family secret he stumbled upon, was in his mind, a betrayal that led him farther away from family and eventually all friendships. John Lennon said, “One thing you can’t hide – is when you’re crippled inside.”
Joseph’s brothers had a terrible family secret. They lived with a very dark deception they had all taken part in. They deceived their father, Jacob, into believing Joseph had been killed by a wild beast. Gen. 37:31 So they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a male goat, and dipped the robe in its blood. 32 They sent the robe of many colors to their father and said, “We found this. Examine it. Is it your son’s robe or not? ” In fact, the brothers had sold Joseph into slavery. This secret had gnawed at them for about twenty-seven years before it had finally been exposed in full. Num. 32:23b Be sure your sin will catch up with you. What an emotional mess this secret caused in all the family member’s lives.
I have noticed that young people today have heard everything there is when it comes to family dysfunction and outright freakiness. Many young people’s classmates and contemporaries have all grown up with multiple parenting arrangments and disfunction on a daily basis. It has not made them secure people, but they have seen and heard way more than what is being hidden in some families. Letting them know the facts of what happened during their family life – whether horrific or embarrassing can be emotionally carried when it is honestly and gently brought out into the open.
The problem arises when things are found out by accident, or someone stumbles across paperwork that tells them a different story than the one they grew up with. That stings more than the secret itself. Being babied, overparented, and mollycoddled can seem like they were seen as mentally unfit and did not have the emotional capability to handle family matters. That is what hurts, and brings out hateful reactions, plus the cycle of secrecy may just become the way to handle things for the next generation. We often become what we hate.
Read the Bible and you will notice that family history is clearly exposed. There are murderers, prostitutes, adulterers, and many other sin-drenched people in Jesus’ lineage. God does not hide any of it from us. Psalm 90:8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. It is all exposed because exposed secrets have no power over you. When sin, deceptions, and secrets are known – no one has power over you or can threaten you by divulging the secret. Because it is a secret no more.
I am not advocating that you plaster every terrible secret on a social media platform for all to read. Keep the family mess in the house, then clean the house. Don’t create more hurts than there are already. Try not to be indignant or offended by what is said. Keep the conversation respectful and react from a willingness to forgive. Because everyone involved needs healing.
I am suggesting that by grace, we reveal the secrets that cause wounded family members to live outside of themselves. Let the healing begin in earnest. Mark 4:22 For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light. If you ask God, He will give you the courage to overcome. Heavenly Father, help us break the family cycle of secrets and the fear of them being exposed. In Jesus name!
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