A popular website provides an opportunity for confession. PostSecret.com invites anonymous postcards containing secrets. “My boyfriend and my family thought I quit smoking two years ago. I didn’t (and still smoke),” said one, signed “Closet Smoker”. “I say I’m a vegetarian. But I eat meat on the sly!” said another, with a sketch of a steak and steak knife as evidence. There are also other more intimate secrets. “Some of the people mailing in secrets seem to be searching for absolution. They want to lighten their burden,” said Frank Warren who created the site.
Relief is nearly always what follows the revealing of a secret. Those which have been accompanied by guilt or regret seem to lose their power when told to someone else. But the success of the website may indicate that there are many of us who don’t have a human being with whom we can share such things.
Jesus seems to have been the kind of person people opened up to. A woman with a secret illness, a tax collector who had never before admitted his thieving ways, a religious leader who was finding orthodoxy unsatisfying, were all truthful in his presence. These are just the confidences we know about. There were no doubt others he took with him to the grave and beyond.
The risen Jesus still has that capacity to listen. There may also be friends and family in whom we feel we can confide. Perhaps too, because a website can’t offer the acceptance that guilty and regretful people need, it’s worth fostering in ourselves those qualities which would make us trusted and available listeners.
Read: When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6.6)
Rejoice: in those with whom we can share confidences
Reflect: Is there anything I’d feel better about if I shared it with someone?
Remember: if I share myself with others, they’re more likely to share themselves with me.
Resolve: to listen when they do.