It doesn’t matter who you’ve hurt, what you’ve done, who you’ve slept with, what websites you’ve visited, what you’ve lied about – but if it was done in secret, it will be brought to light. God promises that.
For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought to the open. (Luke 8:17 NIV)
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. (Luke 12:3 NIV)
I’m watching it happen all around me right now. It’s happened to me!
In 2012, I was in my first Christian relationship. The first few months were great, but by about July, it wasn’t going so smoothly. I was a new Christian, and he was nearly 10 years more mature in his faith than I was. Add to the 2 and half hour drive between us, and needless to say, we were unequally yoked and it was starting to show.
I always felt like he expected things of me that I couldn’t produce, a behavioral perfection I couldn’t attain, and I put expectations on him that should have only belonged to God.
During that time, a friend of mine – a MALE friend of mine – in another state was going through a difficult time and without a second thought, I made myself available to him whenever he needed a listening ear. For months, we were texting daily, as well as talking on the phone and Skype a few times a week. Eventually, the conversations turned from working out his pain to telling jokes, laughing casually, and candidly flirting.
It didn’t take long, but we were crossing lines.
I totally believed I had this under control. Part of me even justified it that because my boyfriend was farther away too, and usually very busy with work and ministry, that I just had relational need he couldn’t meet and this was just an outlet for me so I wasn’t nagging him all the time to pay attention to me.
It should have occurred to me that it was wrong based on the fact that I was never really forthcoming about how much I really talked to this friend, though, nor did I ever cop to Skype chats. This should have been a red flag, but it wasn’t. This was my secret, this was my quick fix, and I wasn’t about to let it go.
One day, I was visiting my boyfriend for a weekend and this friend of mine was upset that I was still there. He didn’t believe I was being treated the way a lady deserved to be treated and he made it known that he would do better. I chose to go to visit my boyfriend anyway and it really took its toll on my friend. He was heartbroken about it and made it known.
He made it known in a text. And I have an iPhone. And the entirety of the text showed up on my screen for anyone within eye-shot of it to read.
I was upstairs getting settled in because I took over the upstairs bedroom as if it were my own, and my boyfriend graciously handed it over to me in favor of the couch… which is where he was, right next to my phone when the text came in.
I still remember this moment so vividly; he called up the stairway to me, “Who is M******?” My heart sunk for a moment, realizing that I left my phone on the coffee table and my secret was likely secret no longer. A long and arduous weekend followed that night – my boyfriend and I argued and had a lot of difficult talks as we navigated a very awkward weekend.
I think about this now and what Jesus promised in the Luke verses I mentioned before is exactly what happened to me. What I was doing in “darkness” – which is in quotes because darkness means my sin; it my brokenness, my loneliness that I didn’t rely on God to meet me in – was brought into the light. Literally, just thrust into the open where it had to be addressed. I wouldn’t confess it to God in my quiet time with Him, I wouldn’t confess it to a friend who would speak truth in love to me, so He dragged it out into the light and made it known so that I had no choice but to flee from the temptation I was facing with this other man or to give myself over to it.
I chose to stay with my boyfriend and I cut ties for a time with my friend. (We spoke again for a while after my relationship ended, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Now, though, something different happens when similar situations arise. Jesus showed me what having things exposed, transparent, and in the light can do. I learned the value of confession, and it’s that it is where healing begins.
When I met the man who would eventually become my husband a few months later, I committed myself to transparency and honesty. And it hasn’t come without temptation, but it’s one of the reasons that my husband decided I would be the kind of woman he wanted to marry: because I was honest about my relationships with other people in my life and I respected his feelings about them.
When a male friend wanted to spend some time alone with me, albeit without mal intent, my not-yet-husband shared that he was not altogether comfortable because of X, Y, or Z reason, and the hang out never happened. When a different male friend lost a family member to a chronic illness and was leaning on me for support, comfort, and guidance, my would-be-husband stepped up to be a guy friend to him and pointed him to Jesus, acting as my covering and spiritual head.
This pattern followed for our year and a half courtship. When an old fling cam up out of the woodwork after about a year of marriage, I confessed to my husband that I entertained the conversation, but repented of that and sought his forgiveness, he was so willing to forgive me because I’d proven my trustworthiness to him with the situations prior.
The Lord walked me through what it’s like to have my sin exposed and I remember that feeling, I remember the look on my boyfriend’s face and the havoc it reeked on our relationship, and that is not something I want to happen in my marriage. I long for and pray that our marriage would glorify Christ alone, that He might use us for His glory, and nothing else.
But all around me right now I have friends that are doing things in darkness that, I’ll be honest, they know they shouldn’t be doing. They know these actions are wrong and will bring death.
Marriages are falling apart, families are being destroyed, and relationships with God are being put on the back burner. All over the place. It’s poisonous.
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of the light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible – and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:8-17 NIV)
Today, I listened to a message on these scriptures from Ephesians 5 that are so relevant and applicable to all that I’ve been praying over the people I love that think they have their secrets and are walking out this delusion that everything in this life should make them happy, and everything I’ve been praying for myself, even. So would you just pray with me today, for those that I know, that you know, that we don’t know?
Father God, I just lift up these broken people to You. You are the light, Jesus, that exposes all things and brings them to surface so that Your Body might come together in Your Name and pray for each other and bear burdens with one another. I pray that You would expose what’s been done in secret, but please, Jesus, without shame. After things like Ashley Madison, so many lives were ruined and some even lost from this world out of guilt and shame, Lord, and I just pray that these things done in darkness would be exposed into a gracious and forgiving light so that healing might be cultivated there, that YOU would be present there, Jesus, manifested by Your Spirit through Your people, that your Spirit would break down walls and break every chain holding back our brothers and sisters trapped in these lies that their secrets are their own, that they’re not hurting anyone. Because it does – it hurts their families, it hurts their friends, but most importantly, it breaks YOUR heart, God. Please Lord, use my dark times, use what happened to me, and cloak it in light so that my testimony of it might draw others closer to You, that they might know the healing, forgiveness, and transformation I have come to know in my walk with You, Jesus, and the satisfaction we receive knowing we have done well by You, Lord, that our choices and actions have offered You glory. It’s only by Your way God that this happens. It’s only by You that healing comes. It’s only by Your blood that forgiveness is given. And God, for those of us You have called to walk through these times with our brothers and sisters, please guard us. Hold us upright, Lord, that we might be blameless before those You have given to us to love and disciple. I pray this in Your name Jesus. Amen.
If you are living with a secret right now, I implore you: Repent and be saved. Acts 3:19 tells us, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.” He is good and faithful to forgive you. And then, confess. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (James 5:16 NIV). It can be forgiven and it can be healed. There is grace enough for any and all of it.