Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Secret

I had a secret—not the kind that you whisper to your friends and then giggle about it. This was a secret that I had never told anyone.
I used to be afraid to go to church because of it. I was scared God would tell my secret to someone, and then they would tell everyone else. After a while I realized that God would not embarrass me unless it was to make things better, so I stopped being scared. Then, about five years ago, a guy a couple of years older than me spoke at my church: and he told my secret.

But he told it as his own. When he was young, he had been sexually abused...and he asked everyone who had the same secret to come to the front so we could pray and gain the freedom that comes from having people know the worst about you and still love you. When I saw one of my best friends go down, I didn't care if others knew my secret.

I was in a room with my teachers, classmates, and even my little brother. None of them knew my secret even though many of them had known me for about ten years. Several more of my friends went down, to my surprise. We had all experienced the same thing but never talked about it.

I had been afraid that people would think I was gross or that they either wouldn't know what to say to me (and therefore would say nothing at all) or that they'd try to fix me because they think something is wrong with me.

But none of my fears came true.

There are still many people I haven't told—some of them are the people that are closest to me. I didn’t even tell my sister until years later. However, on a trip with Singers I finally shared my secret with a large group of friends and strangers—just as the guy had done at my church. I didn't ask them to come down for prayer. Honestly, I didn’t think anyone in that whole room had been sexually abused as a child besides me. It didn't seem like they would need to hear what I had to say or be able to relate to it, but for some reason I felt like it was my opportunity. And I was prepared. I had been praying for this opportunity for years, so I went for it.

Afterwards, friends hugged me and told me that my message meant a lot to them. Women that I didn't know, who were years older than me, were asking my advice on how I was able to speak about it publicly. Even though I'll probably never see them again, there was a bond made that never would have been there otherwise. It was our common ground, and that was something that had been my prayer for many years—that God would use my secret to help someone with theirs.

That’s why I shared this verse with the congregation:
"Praise be to God, Who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me!"
-Psalm 66:20

God not only answered my prayer but also showed me His love. I can look back on my past and see that He was with me. I can see that He is helping me even now, and I look forward to what He is going to do through me in the future.

Your fear or secret might be different than mine—but God is not different. He can do the same thing for you that He has done for me, so don't give up even if it takes many years. We all have secrets. This was only one of mine.

If Singers had not given me the opportunity to share this with others, it would still be my secret. I would still be wondering what others would think if they only knew. Instead, I was encouraged to share my story again on a summer trip I took to Kenya with another group from Emmanuel. College has not only taught me to be myself and use my experiences to make the world a better place (even if it’s just in small ways) but has also given me opportunities to do that. I pray that you’ll find, and take advantage of, your own opportunities to bless others by sharing your secrets.

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