Here's an interesting quote from movie producer/director/writer J.J. Abrams:
"Mystery, obviously, is everywhere. Is there a God? Mystery. What about life after death? Mystery. … Stonehenge? Big Foot? Loch Ness? Mystery mystery mystery. … And yet: For all that mystery, why does it feel like the world has been ripped open, all parts exposed? Why does so much seem absolutely and thoroughly demystified? These days we can leap, all of us, from a casual curiosity about anything to a sense of satisfying understanding. Instantly. Want to fold origami? There are more than 200,000 Google results on that subject available to you, now. Need to know the capital of Mauritania? A recipe for sticky buns? How to pick a bicycle lock? … What I'm getting at is hardly news to anyone: We're smack dab in the middle of the Age of Immediacy. True understanding (or skill or effort) has become bothersome—an unnecessary headache that impedes our ability to get on with our lives (and most likely skip to something else)." [wired.com, 4/21/09]
I like where Abrams goes with that... that in the midst of having to wrestle with the mystery of life's most core issues, we live in an age of instant information. And yet within that "copy and paste" context - where we don't have to know anything but just know how to find it - we are still inept at pursuing a "true understanding" of something or someone.
It's like we think we know people because we read their last Facebook status update. Or that we really know what is going on with celebrities because of a sound byte we caught from Access Hollywood. Or that we "probably" know the layout of a town simply because we have access to a GPS.
Maybe that's why secrets are such an interesting commodity. It's like they are our own version of control in a world where we simultaneously feel like a genius and doofus. If someone says something we like about us, we can say that they "know" us... but if they poke in a way that we don't like, we say, "You can't judge me! You don't know me! Only God knows me!"
Which brings up a few other things to consider when it comes to secrets:
- We weren't originally designed to keep secrets.
The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:25)
You know what I heard drives us crazy about our relationships? When people aren't honest. Somehow we all know that the goal in a relationship is authenticity, and the reason that is hardwired into us is because our Creator originally created us to have a naked relationship with Him and with one another... without any shame.
Can you imagine that? Real connections without any masks. No guessing what someone meant when they said something, or if another person was playing a game with you, or how an antagonist was going to next try to attack us. The reason we yearn for this is because this is how it once was and we know it should be.
But in the meantime, we keep on whispering.
- When sin entered the picture, we created became hardwired for embarrassment.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:6-7)
Think about it - when you blow it big time, it's usually followed by a desire to cover it up. It's nothing you want to advertise... and so you either bury it or bury yourself so no one can find out what just happened.
But it did happen. You can hide all you want, but the issue is still in need of being addressed. You can sweet talk all you want, but your charm won't deceive everybody. You can tap dance around it, but it's still there.
It did happen. So you can try to run, and you can try to hide, but you'll never escape that it happened.
- The trash you've bagged up doesn't need to permanently stink up our life.
Sin pays off with death. But God's gift is eternal life given by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23, CEV)
Here's the thing... because of God's grace, forgiveness and reconciliation can be made possible. But both need to be addressed - not one without the other.
If you only want forgiveness but are unwilling to do the work of regaining integrity and trust with those you offended, there is no sense from them of any real change on your part. It will just happen again... like a cheating spouse who says, "Yeah, I had an affair. You need to forgive me." And then they go out and do it again.
If you only pursue reconciliation, you will be asking people to fix the situation against their will. Once someone who hurt me wanted to quickly resolve the issue... but they hadn't asked for forgiveness and I had a hard time talking about moving on until I had the chance to talk about how I'd been hurt.
Think about it this way - when there is trash in your house, you can ignore that the can is full and hope someone else will take care of it. Or you can simply move it to another room in your house where you don't have to see it or smell it. But the only way you'll ever be rid of that trash is by bagging it and taking it out to the curb where someone else with resources you don't have will pick it up and properly dispose of it.
This is what God does in our lives. As the Holy Spirit, He guides and convicts us of the garbage we've been ignoring. As Jesus, He helps us take it to curb and walk away from it. And as the Father, He uses all the resources in the universe so that trash need not be held against us eternally.
There are plenty of reasons to tell the truth... to be genuine and let that which has kept us down not keep us there permanently. When we step forward and are humble enough to be honest, we can not only avoid embarrassing headlines (which there's been plenty of in our world) but can begin to do productive things in this world versus merely preventative ones. Imagine what you could do with all the energy you waste on keeping something or someone in the dark.
And we wonder why it seems so hard to change the world.
"Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God." (2 Corinthians 4:1-2, MSG)