I stood silent four feet away as she showered her disappointments on me. She couldn’t believe I had let out her secret. I was sorry myself no less disappointed. I watched her leave. And I knew our friendship was going along with her. I couldn’t even find my voice to say sorry. The shame had formed a lump in my throat. My conscience weighed so heavily on me that it weakened my legs to move. I was motionless for more than hundred seconds. When I managed to move, I was armed with fury from regret and disappointment from potential loss of a friend to descend on the person I had told in strict confidence, her secret.
The person was sorry as much as disappointed and descended on the third person who let out this whole secret to my friend. It was ugly. I had let out her secret when we were discussing a similar situation. This person also claimed he did under the same circumstance and the third person, well she had no excuse.
Three different friendships suffered a strain because of a secret I couldn’t keep. Trust was broken and it would take a long time for my relationship with her to bud again. It did but I had to earn it. It’s been a long time and thank God we remain great friends. Please don’t tell her about this.
“Don’t tell anyone” is a knife you hand over to your listener hoping you won’t be cut with it at your blind side or worst, handed over to ten other people to mutilate you.
It is a test of trust. Sadly, many times without number we have failed and been failed. Well, I know I am guilty and so are you. We have to apologize. The truth is, we have both kept some secrets meaning we could have kept all if we wanted to. We decided! Why not decide on all? A lot of relationship would have been saved today and will be in the future.
Jesus wasn’t spared. He was failed too. Mark recorded the time when Jesus asked a man to remain mute after cleansing the man’s leprosy. He didn’t! He couldn’t. Could you? A fresh skin. An elevated status. A joyful heart. I don’t blame him. For God knows how many years he lacked all that and the next moment he had all three. He went out jubilating and singing about the goodness of the Lord. (Ref Mark 1:44-45)
But Jesus wasn’t gossiping. He wasn’t letting out a secret. His assignment on earth could possibly suffer a delay or setback. And it did. It was rather a plea or a warning against possible people stampede. It was for a good reason.
Why do you add, “don’t tell anyone” to your conversation? Are you seeking for help for the person? Is it for good reason? And wait, good reason isn’t trying to protect your trust after breaking it secretly. I have friend who jovially teases his head isn’t a warehouse so you tell him a secret at your own peril but at least he is kind enough to mention he can’t promise to keep it. Proverbs 16:28GW reads, “A devious person spreads quarrels. A gossip separates the closest of friends.”
Every relationship is built on trust. Parent-Child, Husband-Wife, Pastor-Member, Leader-Subordinates, Colleague-Colleague, Boy-Girl, Client-Service Provider etc. all feed on trust to grow.
Once broken, it mars and cuts short every positive impact of the relationship. It suspects and destroys the uniqueness of future relationships with other people. It no doubt leaves scars. It takes months even years to mend. Sometimes it never does. And reputations are stained sometimes too for life.
No one wants to talk about their weaknesses. No one wants to be tag as battling with an incurable disease or chronic addiction. No one wants to be projected as lacking. We want to paint a perfect picture of having everything together and under control. But it is not true. We both know it. We need help. God asked we carry each other’s burden. He encourages we confess our struggles for help. So when someone confides in you about a struggle, it is a big deal. Bigger than what you imagined it to be.
When someone opens out to you on a delicate matter, you don’t tell anyone even if the person doesn’t add, “don’t tell anyone.” If you plan to, tell the person you know of an individual who can help so direct the person to that individual. Better still pray for them. There is always a reason people specifically choose to talk to you. Don’t mess it up and betray their trust.
There are some things I have been told that I will surely die with them. No one will know. So help me God. I hope you can do same.
Perhaps you have been betrayed. You have been stabbed deeply. You have been mutilated. Your “don’t tell anyone” was chorused as you helplessly listened. You couldn’t restraint your ears. I am sorry. I know you know what you are about to read next. You have heard it several times. I will say it again. Forgive and let go. Confront the issue. Talk to the person about how you feel. Let it out.
Now, once bitten twice shy isn’t biblical. Once you showed the skin, you were likely to be bitten. Show no skin at all seems to be a pretty good advice. Try it and see! There is no life in there because like it or not we don’t have all the answers. We need help. It is part of God’s plan. Henceforth, you will want to pray to God about it and leave it there. Or pray God leads you someone trustworthy. And learn to be trustworthy yourself.
Next time someone tells you, “don’t tell anyone”, for God’s sake, don’t! And when you add, “don’t tell anyone” to a message, get a knife proof metal jacket behind you just in case. You might save yourself an emotional trauma plus a friend.
Let’s build trustworthy relationships. Let’s learn to keep secrets. Let’s eschew gossip. Let’s brotherly love prevail. Be Inspired!
Kwabena Eddie Mankata © 2014.