Wednesday, April 02, 2008


* “I told my parents I was becoming a vegan because I couldn’t bear animals’ suffering. But actually it was just to hide my eating disorder from them.”

* “The stoplight is there because someone ran the stop sign, killing my dad’s best friend on my dad’s 18th birthday while my dad was driving. He never talks about it but I know he doesn’t forgive himself, and I just want to tell him, ‘It’s NOT your fault, you were just a teenager, younger than I am now, and no matter what, I will always love you, Dad!’”

* “Your parents wanted to take you off life support. I wouldn’t let them. You got better… then you divorced me.”

Four years ago a man named Frank Warren started a community art project called Post-Secret – people anonymously sent in postcards bearing secrets. The rules were simple: The secrets had to be true and never before shared with anyone. Tens of thousands of people worldwide responded, and Warren has used many of them in four books and on his website. He has used some of the proceeds to support a national suicide-prevention hotline. (Sue Nowicki, Houston Chronicle, 3/22/08).

The Rev. Debra Brady of First United Methodist Church decided to address the issue of secrets after reading a book and visiting Warren’s website. “I could see how so many people are longing for a community in which they can feel safe being their authentic selves.” She used the theme of secrets during the season of Lent, and invited the congregation to write cards with secrets “or other things they would like to offer God this season.” More than forty cards went up on the walls of the sanctuary. On Palm Sunday they were taken down and put at the foot of the cross until Easter, where they were transformed in the theme of Christ’s death and resurrection – putting aside old thoughts and habits and putting on the new, forgiven life.

“Secrets are the things we think we have to hide, when it’s the opposite – if we can get it out, God can deal with it,” Brady observes. “People feel very isolated in their sufferings – ‘I’m the only one who has doubts; I’m the only one feeling suicidal; I’m the only one stuck in a bad marriage; I’m the only one who feels lonely.’ But the Christian community has practices and theology which addresses peoples’ yearning to be authentic, to be who they are and to work with others. It’s really easy in church to play holier than thou or to put on a façade. The path of discipleship is coming as we are to God, not having to pretend. If things need to change, it’s God who does that; it’s God who does the transformation.”

* “I have always felt inferior to almost everyone in almost all things.”

* “I will be so humiliated if anyone finds out I’m going bankrupt. I act like I have it all together, but I’m so over my head. I feel like an irresponsible cheat and a loser. I hate it. What would people say or think about me if they found out? I don’t want to know.”

We are living in authentic Christian community when we do not look down on people for their failings and shortcomings, but come alongside them with support and encouragement, trusting and rejoicing in the God who leads us on a journey of transformation.


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