My Mama was diagnosed with split personality disorder and my dad loved me more than her.

We all split.

I remember how my heart did, how the shards drove into everything. How bearing secrets made the breathing hard.

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My mama nods now that it is all true and no daughter should ever feel that and no mama should ever live knowing that and…

There are things a family never breaks the silence and faith to speak aloud, for fear they’ll break.

My Mama did.

The end of one summer, the end of August and it’s heat, she signed herself into a psychiatric ward, all the inner places shattered. We weren’t to speak of that. Dad told my brother and I, my baby sister, straight and firm: the neighbours, our teachers, our cousins, were never to know where Mama went. We were to keep the secret.  How was he to know we’d become the secret’s dark underbelly?

I went to Mr. Perrie’s grade 4 class everyday all through September and all through October and all through November and I never told a living soul that I had no Mama at home, that we visited her on the weekends in a locked ward, that I did my own laundry and I made every meal for us us, every pork chop and baked potato, and I tucked my baby sister into bed every night and made my brother’s lunch for school the next day.

And every night my dad asked for my ear to hear all his hurts and my heart could hardly hold it all.

I was nine.

When the walls of my heart cracked, I leaked out slow, in the dark, in my pillow, in my begging prayers. I never told my best friend, Melanie Vermeer, where my Mama had gone. I never stopped pressing the lips tight. In her ward room in the city, my Mama sat in shadows and wrestled the demons, and  secrets of what her own father had done to her in a long ago dark.

Why repress our stories? Isn’t that all we have — our story and The Word who keeps writing our story?

Tight lips can suffocate till life lies limp, and secrets can smother and leave you for dead. Mama was living proof that keeping secrets keeps you sick. Or maybe her and I were both the dying proof of it.

I grow up. I keep my secrets tight and my secrets keep me tight.

We all  thought the secrets would save us…  but they slowly slay us.

I can show you my scars.

I have six babies.  And the last, the freckled and mopsy one, she loves this game where she hangs an arm around my neck and pulls me close, cups my ear in her dimpled hand and she lisp-whispers warm and thick.

“I’m gonna tell you sumpin’ in your ear, kay? Then you tell me sumpin’ in my ear, kay?”

This child tells me her secrets. She tells me, bits of her brushing up against me, and her words tickle close and open and brave and I think: this is a meeting. This is a holy revealing. An invitation. She’s telling me who she is on the inside — the only real side.

Then she turns. Her mop of curls falls to her other shoulder. She waits for me. She wants me to whisper right into her who I really am. The child shows me:

The only way to be real … is to reveal.

Can I?

My Mama writes the past in a prayer journal. I come to write my skin on a screen. When ink lays the secrets bare, God unveils a bit of Himself in words because that is who He is, Word and Truth.

I know the terror of telling the truth. But for me, after my Mama’s childhood, after mine, I am far more scared of the secrets. Because it’s keeping secrets that keep us from being real. From being fully alive.

It is true: I am terrified to be real. But I am far more afraid to be false. Which would mean I cease to be.

I lean in close to this child waiting.  I tuck one stray spiral strand. I cup my hand to her curl of ear, fuse us together, and isn’t it that it is worth everything to tell our secrets?

Because our story is who we are, and if we deny it, we deny not only our own selves – we deny the very Author Who’s writing this redemptive epic.

I whisper to this child of ours, “I have sumpin’ to tell you.

And she nods, and I tell a secret to out little Shalom, daughter whose name means peace and wholeness.

Photos and Text: Ann Voskamp @ Holy Experience

Q
4U:  How are you feeling about your secrets these days? How are they keeping you…hurting you? How are you being real? How can we pray for you?

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  • http://owlhaven.net Owlhaven (Mary Ostyn)

    Oh Ann,
    Hugs to you my dear friend….
    Always you touch my soul.

    Mary, determined to meet you someday this side of heaven

  • http://none gen

    I live in a beautiful place. Next to a National Park. The state tourism, national park and surrounding businesses advertise my home, our farm as a tourist destination. It is being overrun by people who have no idea about the truth. It is so hard to watch it happen and feel helpless about stopping these people from doing this. Our home is being invaded. They are people, but they are everyone and so many. And we did not invite them. And none of them know the truth.
    We don’t talk about it because it seems no one cares. They just see dollar signs and we just see our peaceful home being made into their money maker.
    What to do?
    Don’t want to ruin the tourist’s good time, but don’t they need to know the truth?
    How to stand up to such big organizations and so many people?
    Do we? How? When?
    Many generations built farms being run over like this is so hard to watch.
    Is this where money becomes evil?
    Does God want this?
    What is his will?
    Where is our peace?

    • Susan

      Gen,

      How wonderful to live in such a place that others long to see, to touch, to dream of! It is, however, your home, your haven and you have a right to your privacy. I would encourage you to contact your local chamber of commerce and file a complaint. Legally, I don’t know what you can do but it seems they have taken liberties with your property which you did not permit and you do have rights. If you remain silent then nothing will change. You can and should do this for yourself and others like you who are in the same situation. No one, no organization, no division of government should presume to have the right to advertise your personal property as a tourist attraction, no matter how historical it may be. ~Susan~

  • Gail Firenze

    This is so good. It did though, make me uncomfortable. Could it be that some secrets if told could hurt others, particularly loved ones. I feel I must keep some secrets just between God and I. I read each post you write and I am confronted but also blessed by them. Like your Mother I also write my past in my journal.

    Blessings Gail

    • S

      I think some secrets are meant to be kept. Sometimes no good can come from letting it out. I think the key is that you have openly shared that secret with God, let him heal you, and forgiven those who may have been involved. If you are healed and it isn’t impacting your life or those of others negatively, then choosing not to share is sometimes best.

      Keeping things a secret doesn’t always mean you aren’t being real. It means you realize that you are choosing to put yourself aside and not cause pain to others. One must always look at the motives for sharing the secrets as well. If it is for the purpose of revenge or out of bitterness and unforgiveness then it is better dealt with in private.

  • Cordelia

    I don’t feel I am “allowed” to share our family’s secrets because my parents are still living…and they have never shared the sins they committed. If I told anyone my “story” it would splinter our family further, and most of us haven’t spoken in years as it is. Honestly, I truly wouldn’t care what happened to these relationships built on lies, but somewhere inside there is a sense of duty I follow in this area of my life. I believe this is totally wrong, and yet if another relative found out and told one of my parents I know that would be the end of the relationship. I know this unspoken rule that I’m not permitted to have a “story” because others would be embarrassed by what they did isn’t right or just. It also stops me from giving reasons for some of my actions in the past. My parents have shared parts of their “stories” when it has cast them as victims, however they stop before it gets into how their actions victimized others. There is an enormous pride issue with them, as there would probably be with me if I were in their shoes. Little slips of the tongue that had nothing to do with the “big” things, yet showed them as less than perfect, were met with great verbal hostility…once it lasted years. (These things happened decades after I left home…I NEVER would have slipped as a child!) I know it isn’t fair…and yet I use an alias to leave this comment. When they are gone I anticipate having a time of coming to terms with things fully in my heart and probably…finally…telling others as God leads. Although I still can’t imagine telling my story in a public forum for fear someone else in the family would hear and be upset with me for casting my parents (and some other relatives who are long deceased) in a bad light. Still I feel it is unfair that my story can’t be told in my time, to the people I choose. I’ve read your blog for quite some time but this is the first time I’ve really been inwardly struggling with one of your posts. I don’t know that there is an answer, at least I’m not expecting one until sometime far in the future, but I felt compelled to share what keeps my secrets locked safely inside me.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Cordelia…

      You are brave and wise.

      And my heart aches with yours.

      I humbly agree, Cordelia — I don’t think secrets necessarily need public forums or need to be told at all to many. I don’t share all of mine publicly. Secrets became secrets because hearts are involved and oh, to be sensitive with hearts. To extend grace to each other … to know that we all are broken, messy … and to bind each other’s wounds tenderly.

      Perhaps finding one person to be real with, to really know us — a spouse, a friend, a mentor… this too can heal? Or a safe place to privately journal? A journal and a pen has been God’s balm to me…

      I deeply, deeply appreciate your words, Cordelia. You have touched me deep — I murmur prayers with you today, sister. Thank you for courageously struggling with us — we wrestle together.

      Humbly grateful for your words, Cordelia…
      Ann

    • http://www.findmeinseptember.org erin beth

      Hi there. I am reading your words wondering if they are mine. I’ve struggled with not telling my story for fear of what my family will think, because their names are all tangled up in my story.

      But recently, I’ve realized that it is MY story. MY life. All my life, I’ve let other people tell me what my boundaries would be, who I was, what I was worth. Telling my story is a freeing me of that (slowly). I have actually just started my new blog. The one where I will tell my story. No one else really knows about it yet. But now you do.

  • Stephanie

    I have seen myself how secrets and sins held inside and not confessed and dealt with truly destroy all that lies in their wake. I have a story to tell. I have told some people my story and though there is pain, there is also joy in seeing God’s great name glorified in how He moved through the story. I would like to write a book one day about my story but I believe that I am to wait until the time God opens door for this to come about. I agree with you that when you hold secrets inside that they grow this power and take hold over you. When you tell, those secrets lose their power and hold and you have freedom from them. Anne, this was beautifully written and powerful. Thank you for opening your heart to us and to the Lord.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Stephanie it seems my life is your life. I too have told some people my story and you are absolutely right in that though there is pain (for me, a loss of pride) there is a much greater joy in seeing God’s grace and redemption through how He works. Much greater. It makes the telling okay.

      How great that satan loses his ability of guilt and shame when things are brought into God’s glorious light.

      Blessings to you!

  • http://www.asgoodadayasany.wordpress.com Marilyn Yocum

    I have seen how telling the truth sets others free as well as myself.
    What’s mentionable is manageable.

    I think God gives us people to tell. We are not always being asked to tell the whole world, but has He pointed out one person? It is good to go where He leads with our story.

    • http://www.clintandleahwaggoner.blogspot.com Leah

      God is so good. He weaves our story together beautifully. As Marilyn said, many times, God will point us to one person to confide in. Immediately, healing begins. As we continue to experience God’s healing, he will bring other people in our paths where we know we need to share for their benefit. God’s voice is always gentle and will never make us feel pressure or condemnation.

      • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

        Both of you are SO right. My one person was our youth pastor’s wife and once I shared my secrets Satan’s grip and the heaps of shame were gone. And when God prods us to tell somebody, He always **ALWAYS** gives us someone to won’t condemn but rather, show grace. I fully believe that.

        Thank you Marilyn and Leah (that’s my sister’s name!) :) for your words

  • Susan

    Cordelia – my heart aches for you – feeling like you are being held to ransom by your family and by the past. Praying that God will guide you to someone safe that you can tell your story to and that He will reassure you that He holds you and your story in His heart . xxx

    • katydid

      Cordelia–I agree with Susan. God lead me to the right Godly woman to tell my story. It has been a VERY painful process, but SO healing and freeing. God is gracious and gentle and loving and does not want us to ache with these secrets. I had stuffed these secrets for years and it destroyed my health, bodily and mentally. I have now been freed and I pray that God will free you. I am still dealing with the other family members about what we had experienced, and have been able to share the love of Jesus and freedom we have in Him. (just yesterday, in fact–with one).

      As it says in the Word, God works all things together for good. Ann, thank you for this timely post. I am so blessed by your blog.

  • http://www.winsomewoman.blogspot.com Kim

    As I have shared my secrets, with discretion and trepidation, I have experienced healing as well as the ones I’ve shared with. Pretending isn’t living, and I am determined to live my life as fully as He gives it. He is Master at turning what the enemy means for harm to good. I believe the telling is powerful. How many hearts will be touched and strengthened by your honesty and vulnerability today?! Thank you for your courage, Ann.

    • katydid

      Amen, Kim

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Amen and Amen.

  • http://annebender.blogspot.com Anne B.

    Wonderful, touching post, as always. The little details, like “her mop of curls falls to the other shoulder” are the words that make my heart ache for beauty.

    I’m learning to tell secrets to a few trusted friends and spiritual guides. It does help so much to release the pain and breathe it out and find that I am still loved, still wanted, in spite of my sins and how I have been damaged by the sins of others. Just like He still loves me, still wants me.

    Yet, I still carry guilt. I am haunted by the fourth commandment, even though my parents are long gone from this earth. When I share the stories of how I have been hurt by them, even though it has only been in little ways, I feel that I am betraying them. I guess in the end, I decide it really isn’t all about me, my words affect so many others.

    Your words, Ann, are such a blessing because they bring so many to know that we are not alone, that others hurt just as much, and maybe even more, than we do. They provide comfort and solace and encourage the love of God. Thank you for sharing your secrets.

    • http://overweightsofjoy.blogspot.com/ Amy Danielle Smith

      I can relate to this- being afraid that speaking will be dishonoring… so hard to find a holy balance…

      • http://www.mayiaskaquestion.com pinkcamojeep

        “holy balance” … very eloquent and appropriate wording

        -|<@ren

    • Anonymous

      Sweet Anne B,
      My heart wrenches to hear of your guilt. Guilt is a legal condition, no person is guilty in Christ. Guilt is binding and limiting. Know you are rightfully an heir to peace. You must know. So many of us living our lives bearing the hangover of shame. THIS can be releasing, Jesus lifts us out of our shame. You have a right to walk forward sweet one.
      In love, V

    • http://www.findmeinseptember.org erinbeth

      I’ve also waded through this muck. For years. I’m just now at a place where I’m inching my toes to the edge. I’m almost ready to deal with whatever the outcome is in sharing my story. My relationships with my family members aren’t impeccable. Maybe this will change that for the better.

      Maybe not.

      I have to be ready for either.

      Baby steps.

      Because of a few close friends, I’ve slowly gotten used to the words coming out of my mouth. I still struggle with how the telling makes me feel. But I believe God is saying “Okay.Now.Tell.”

      So, I’m putting one foot in front of the other.

    • http://thepartythatneverquits.blogspot.com Jen

      Anne, you can sitll honour the position. That is what you are called to honour. Not the person.

      My husband is a living, breathing example of this. He acknowledged the hurt, told his story as it is, truthfully, but yet, I have never heard him speak ill of his parents. Not once. He honours their position, but has made moves that they cannot influence our family without his protection.

  • Lois

    I was dying inside because of our “family secrets”, because of the heavy burdens placed on me by broken people. I kept it all inside for too many years, it broke me. It was a long and difficult journey to untangle myself, as gently as possible, and yet to learn to be real and me and free.

    God gave me one older wiser woman who i turned to in my desperation and who listened to me as i shared things, things i had never spoken outside of my family before. She didn’t judge me, she loved me, accepted me and as i spoke out the dirty mess of what was inside me, i slowly started to become more real and more me than i had ever been before. I stepped out of the mask and showed my true skin (even though i didn’t like what i saw, it didn’t live up to the perfection i expected in order to be loved and valued – i was loved anyway and that love brought me healing).

    I now have close friends that have gone deep through being open and real with one another, friends who help me stay real and me because with them i choose not to hide, even when i want to! Sharing my secrets has enabled others to share theirs and then together we’ve journeyed to freedom because we’re learning to walk in the Light.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      I feel your words Lois. God is so good to give us people to ‘confess’ to that instead of being judgmental or hurtful, they show love and grace, which in turn helps us heal.

      And I agree, there is an amazing freedom when you walk in the light.

      Blessings.

  • http://jealous-hands.blogspot.com Christi {Jealous Hands}

    Sweet Ann, I love your heart.

  • http://www.ceremonialsforcommondays.blogspot.com Kim

    I had to leave my family, my home, the only home I’d ever known, in order to move out of the lies and into the truth. It was the hardest, and yet quite possibly the single most significant decision I ever made.

    Nothing prepares you for how to come to grips with the realization that being in a relationship with your earthly family isn’t healthy, isn’t good., yet sometimes, and in my case, this was true. I had no idea how deeply my life was wound up in the web of lies until I moved out of it. I had become so addicted to the drama and the chaos that I honestly didn’t even know how to function, for years.

    I speak openly and publically about my past with my inner circle of friends, but if I still lived in my home state, that would all be different. I feel free to be myself because the people who are now in my life never knew me or my family before. But trying to talk to my family about all of this is a different story, they are all, sadly, bound up by the secrets and lies and living in denial. I long for them to find the freedom I now live in. I grieve for them.

    • Christena

      Kim,

      When I read this I began to cry:
      “Nothing prepares you for how to come to grips with the realization that being in a relationship with your earthly family isn’t healthy, isn’t good., yet sometimes, and in my case, this was true.”

      Your story above could have been written by me — every word, every phrase describes my life to the detail. I’m sorry for what you have been through, but you have no idea how comforting it is to know that I am not alone, even though I do not know you. The secrets make me feel alone all the time.

      I grieve daily for the family relationships I never had and never will have. It took me a very long time to even see beyond the lies that I had been telling myself for years and even now, sometimes I think maybe I’m crazy because I’m the only one of my family who acknowledges the truth.

      Thank you Ann & Kim, for sharing.

      • http://nonniesblessings.blogspot.com teresa/nonnie

        C~
        My heart is aching for you. Please create you own ‘family’ with new memories that are bathed in Christ and His love, forgiveness, and compassion. Let this living water cleanse you and find joy and peace in Him, but share it with your hand picked family.
        Remember, we as Christians are ‘grafted in’ to the seed of Abraham, the apple of God’s eye! We are adopted into the family of Abraham, Issac anad Jacob- God’s children. We don’t have to have blood relatives to make beautiful memories and glorify our Father. Find forgiveness, as Christ forgives, and move past these horrible things to refreshing times and tender moments with those you love.

        I want so badly to put my arms around you and give you comfort! Consider yourself hugged and prayed for.
        In Christ,
        Nonnie

  • http://purplefacedpansy.wordpress.com Donna

    This was a precious devotion that meant so much to me. I’m telling my secrets to my friends and family that I trust and I have secrets. But I can’t write them on the screen. I’m proud of you for being able to. Your little girl has life the way it should be…someone to trust with her secrets and someone who trusts her with only what she needs. What a sweet, intimate moment. God is like that for me. I can whisper in His ear my secrets and He whispers sumpin back into mine. Life wouldn’t be the same without those moments.

  • LM

    Oh, Ann… The first thing I wanted to do was to pull you into a compassionate embrace and say I’m sorry for all the pain, secrecy, and responsibility your heart carried. Recently when faced with a question from a counselor and I finally answered the reply was “the ceiling didn’t fall in did it?” (for having said it) So often we think we dare not speak up and keep so much pain and confusion to ourselves while trying to portray perfection when in reality we’re broken, hurting, and in need of healing and compassion. This morning when I woke up to just God and myself I cried for that desire of someone pulling me into comforting, loving embrace. Here’s to a healing group hug in God’s ministering presence for all of us. He is our peace.

    • Anonymous

      I hear you, so much… I too wake with just God & myself, and long for that loving embrace. My boyfriend & I have just broken up, because being in a relationship opened up areas of pain I never new existed, and we need time for healing. It is hard, and at times it seems no one understands, but our God is so faithful to bring us through, and to bring us to the healing we need.

      Hugs to you, my friend.

  • http://homewiththeboys.net Erin M.

    My heart breaks reading this post and many comments and I get all wrapped up in sadness for the pain…but even if you can’t tell anyone you can tell HIM and that IS someone until you feel released to bring it to light. And then public forum is not for everyone – although you make it beautiful and wonderful and freeing every time Ann. Every time. Praying over the hurts in the comments here…

  • http://www.multitaskingmama.com Melissa

    I have experienced tremendous freedom in Christ by sharing my story instead of being ashamed, fearful of judgment and all those other scary things the devil whispers in your ear when you want to share your secret with someone.
    The scriptures that have helped me the most, in gaining the courage to share my story {little did I know how much I would benefit} are II Corinthians 1:3-5 and Revelation 12:11. Thank you for sharing your story on the screen every day, Ann. You have no idea of the impact your words have on those around you!

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Well put Melissa. God is so good to drown out the devil’s whispered lies with His love and grace.

  • http://withthekids.wordpress.com/ AprilK

    There are so many great lines in this, Ann. I especially love “Because our story is who we are, and if we deny it, we deny not only our own selves – we deny the very Author Who’s writing this redemptive epic.”

    There is a mental illness related secret in my family, too. A few discreet and trustworthy people do know about it, though. Telling them has kept me breathing. Otherwise, I believe I would have suffocated from the weight of it all.

  • http://wivesoffaith.org Pattie

    My daughter is ten, and my heart breaks to see what you had to do at an even younger age than she is. Oh my heart. Thank you for sharing what kept secrets can do to a heart.

  • http://www.JanetOber.com Janet Oberholtzer

    This is excellent … thanks for being brave and sharing. I think by keeping secrets we slowly kill ourselves. Not that we always need to ‘tell the world’ but we do need to tell a few trusted people and maybe process the effects of the secret on us with a counselor and/or mentor.

  • Jen

    Ann,
    My heart lurches and reaches out to cojoin with yours through Christ. This is real stuff . The soil of living and growing. If we are not expressing truth and life in the light we lose our fullness. We can not be whole .First we talk to our God….who really knew all along. Then to a Godly, trustful confidant if possible. And we need to let God heal us.
    I have a current secret… from neighbors, some family, anyone I’m afraid of receiving judgement from….my husband and I placed our 14 year old (my baby) in a Christian eating disorder clinic 1 week ago. I am broken hearted. The hurt runs very deep. I turned to our pastor, bible study small group , Mom and sister. But mostly to my God. He is the only one who can understand my guilt and deep wounds. I run to him for healing…and camp here…letting His mercy wash over me. And Yes bringing those dark things to the light is the only path to trading in the ashes.
    Thanks so much for sharing your story. The evil one works in the dark…God works in the light. All we really have is our…our life…all gift.
    Jen

    • TN Lizzie

      Dear Jen,

      Please do not take a picture of your 14yo today and confuse this for who she really is. There, but for the grace of God, go any of us – trapped by habits that allow our flesh to be in control. Likewise, this moment in your life should not be used to describe all of you. God is working, but He isn’t finished yet…

      I firmly believe that God places each one of us into the family we need. to become more like Jesus. God gave you and your DH to your child. God gave your child to the two of you. How does He want to use this moment in your family history to draw you all closer to Him?

      Ann, I love how God gives you words to paint pictures. Your words make His Words sing. My heart aches for what your family has been through – Every one of you came through the fiery furnace of that time burnt in deep places, singed and smoky. The “Secret” was intended to protect, but it has burrowed deep and eaten the heart out of the fruit. The Master Gardener (Creator of the Garden, actually) does some of His best work from the inside out.

      I must run my child to work. Please know that I pray for you and your readers. No amount of pride is worth the cost of years of silent buried pain. Thank you for shining light, and for empowering others to do the same…

      ((((((HUGS))))))

  • http://www.smalltownsimplicity.blogspot.com Lydia

    Beautiful post, Ann!

    It hurts me to think of little darling 9 year old you, stepping in as temporary momma and holding all of your daddy’s pain. No child should have to shoulder that.

  • http://bindubalan.wordpress.com Bindu

    Wow…what a powerful post. Thank you for the reminder that the secrets we keep can slowly destroy us. I’ve learned that sharing is hard, and I often kept my secrets because the I couldnt take the pity I saw run across the faces of those I’ve shared with. But God has bought much healing in that area and I’ve come to see that sharing has been encouragement to those around me.

    Thank you for the brave post.

    B

  • http://www.kristybeckendorf.blogspot.com Kristy Beckendorf

    Ann, how is it that your words always crack me open? They bare my own feelings – bring tears to my eyes, and they ALWAYS move me closer to Him.
    There were many secrets in my own family – at 15, I was told my a relative that the dad I thought was my dad – was not. And no one would talk about it. Like you, I lived for yrs after never being about to talk about it or find out who or why.
    It is odd that we as women walk around trying to look like everything is okay and perfect, when it is not, and we are not. When someone shares about their life and struggles, it helps others more than any “perfect” image ever could.
    Love to you and yours Ann….

  • http://trainstutusandteatime.com Corinne

    “She’s telling me who she is on the inside — the only real side.”
    So true…
    And so beautiful, Ann. Thank you.

  • scj

    This post touched me so and I see it did many others. I too live with a memory of a secert that I do now know if it really happened or not. It has consumed me for many years and I know it would shake my family to the core. God has also led me to a sweet amazing mentor who is working with and praying for the truth to be revealed. God is so good isn’t he? One thing my mentor has told me that if I could pass it on, would be that when facing the truth don’t think of it as a BLACK and WHITE situation. Rather think of it as a box of crayons. You have so many other colors you can choose when dealing with these secerts. It’s not, keep it inside and die a little bit everyday or tel,l and I will lose all my family. But rather 62 other colors to choose from. This helped me tremedously and maybe it can help you too. In God’s love and grace may we all find peace and a array of beautiful colors all in between.

    SCJ

  • Kathy

    We are all broken, we and our parents and our families and our neighbors. We are all broken, and we all hurt each other in that broken state, no matter how much we don’t want to. I am learning to tell the truth, but not to just anyone. Maybe at first only to myself. And I am learning that maybe I can name the hurts and still love the hurter. Because they were hurt too. And they did some things right, and I can honestly honor them for that. But the hurts still need healing. So I am learning to speak what was not spoken, and it is hard and it is very scary, but i am working on it.

    And yes, some secrets may hurt others, and I don’t know what is ok to tell and what isn’t. Keeping a journal seems a safe place for me to start. And talking to one or two trusted friends. Ann’s mother nodded – she is ready to let the secrets out. Some parents aren’t ready for that yet. Ann shows respect, even in the telling of hard truths. Most of us are not asked to share so publicly. How to tell the secrets, when and where and to whom, is a tough question. Our generation respects transparency. But what if that transparency hurts someone? I don’t know . I notice that even as we talk about telling secrets, we aren’t telling them, here in the comments. You can’t just go spilling garbage willy-nilly, can you? Discretion is a good thing. And yet, honesty heals. So I am thinking on this and asking questions.

    I do know that I want my children to be able to name the ways I hurt them, so they can heal the places I miss. Because I will miss things, and they will have hurts, even though I love them deeply.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Kathy,

      This was a comment, your gift. Such a wisdom here — yes, discretion. Yes, journalling — *yes!* Yes, one or two friends… Yes, always, always, honoring.

      And I think, Kathy, you raise such truth — will we create a space for our children to name the ways we have hurt them? It’s not that we won’t hurt each other, wound each other — but what we do with it when we do? Can we humbly own how we cause pain?

      Your words ministered to me, Kathy — thank you, thank you for sharing…

      All’s grace,
      Ann

      • Jill

        We gave our kids permission when they were adolescents to talk with anyone about the bad things that had happened in our home.
        We never wanted them to blame themselves.
        We did not want them to keep secrets
        We went public in our church about it.
        I appologized many times
        We hired some one (a lovely friend) to be in our home when I had bad days
        We paid for counseling and still offer to do so many years later.
        As adults our kids are still working out parts of this.
        Healing came, comes and is coming.
        I have said I am sorry again recently.
        The words seems so little
        I hate that I hurt my kids and my husband
        I wish it had not happened.
        I say I would do anything to not have done it, to get those days back.
        The best I can do about it is to push forward in my healing journey, to not hold back, to face the pain, fight the battle (with God of course) and not turn to self pity or stay in anger….. to let God heal me….
        My brother said to me that God is the ultimate parent. He heals us where we did not get parented well and He heals our children where we failed them
        I am thankful.

        • Jill

          Kathy
          I did not quote my brother qutie right
          He said ” God is the ultimate Parent. He parents us where we did not get parented well and He parents our children where we have not parented them well.
          I find this a great comfort.
          I know what you mean about secrets and when to tell or not. I would like to be free to talk about mine, I am tired of having to be hidden. My inner life is so cmplicated and I have to be very careful because most of my siblings and my parents do not know.
          Sometimes I want to blurt it all out, but I don’t want to cause my aging parents that much pain….
          i am waiting on God to let me know when it is ok to be more public than I am.
          I pray for peace for you in this too and for healing.
          Jill

  • http://overweightsofjoy.blogspot.com/ Amy Danielle Smith

    I think, sometimes, I don’t tell my story for fear it is not worthy enough… that talking about the hurt I have experienced is nothing in comparisson to the magnitutde of others, that I should not dwell on these things, that I should move on… that I will not be recieved with grace, that I will not be looked at as spiritual, as strong, as healthy… There are a myriad of reasons- all of them lies. Oh Ann, that we might learn to be brave, vulnerable, together…

    Love to you, sweet sister.
    xo

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      I fear that too. Just this past weekend, I shared my sin with a group of teen girls who I pray never go through what I go through, but I was torn because another woman had just shared how someone else’s sin had affected her. It made me wonder: do I need to share? I don’t want to trivialize what she went through, but I also think there’s merit to what I had to say.

      And you’re absolutely right, the thoughts that we’ll be met with rejection instead of grace, that we’ll be looked at for who we were when we sinned rather than the spiritually stronger person we are now, all of it. LIES. and satan is the king of lies (john 8:44 says there is no truth in him).

      to remember that when it comes times. hard thing.

      thanks for sharing amy.

  • Peggy

    Ann,
    I am so thankful for your willingness to share your stories and feelings. Every morning I check your blog. Your words touch me and minister to me in a very deep place. I am thankful for your honesty and realness. May God bless you as you seek to share and be open with all that God is teaching you and all that life has been and will be. I am so thankful and blessed by your gift.
    Blessings and sincere thanks,
    Peggy

  • http://www.queenieslittlekingdom.com wanda

    Secret keeping seems to be a form of coping. I grew up with dysfunction and rage as my constant companions. {Not my own…but that of my mother}
    It does something to your personality. As many of us have experienced.
    I vowed to never treat my own children in such a way…..but every once in a while
    I find myself dangerously close.
    I feel very much like many of you that sharing this “life” of mine with other’s would simply hurt and embarrass my family/mother.
    The older I get, the more I realize….she didn’t know any better. This was her normal. Her abuse became mine.

    I’m so thankful for the love & mercy of my heavenly Father.
    And for your sharing, Ann!

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Oh Wanda, this: “…she didn’t know any better.” Yes, this is it. I really think each parent is always doing their best with what they have been given? Everyone is trying… And this is their normal.

      You write such truth: “Her abuse became mine.” Your words gently remind again how our parents were once wounded children, hurting… who now need our grace, the grace of Jesus.

      Thank you, Wanda… thank you.

      • Anne

        Hurting people hurt people… I try to remember that everyone has a story. When I see pain lived out, I ask, to myself, what is his story? for surely behind or beneath our actions, there is a story. Grace…Lord, let me offer grace.

  • Nina

    Hugs to you, Ann. My heart aches for you, and for the little nine-year-old girl who had to carry the burden of a family secret.

    I have the opposite problem with secrets–I tend to be too transparent, too soon, and have been hurt by that. I recently retired my blog because I felt uncomfortable having too much of “me” out there, for all to see. (Like your mom, I was hospitalized for mental illness once (actually thrice) upon a time, and I’d referred to it–and several other personal things most people would have kept “secret”–on my blog. I now regret that I shared so much because it’s come back to haunt me, in several ways.)

    It’s important, I think, to be able to tell which secrets need to be shared with whom–which should be shared publicly, and which, perhaps, are best shared only between ourselves and God (and maybe a journal).

    Blessings to you, Ann.

    • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

      Nina,

      You grace with wisdom here… and bravery that moves me deep. Wish I could make these words reach out and embrace you, Nina. Your life teaches me much and I whisper thanks… ((Nina))

      All’s grace,
      Ann

  • Denise

    Love and admiration, Ann. Too much to share, but there is freedom in swaddling our hearts near to God and telling the truth, even if it is to ourselves. The journals weigh down my bookshelf and my heart scar is part of the healing of the world.
    All blessings.

  • Wendy

    This is so important for the Church today. We are broken people trying our best to look whole. We put on a good face for our world, for our church members, for our friends, and even for our spouses. We never let people see the sin that we are struggling with. We never let them help us. We never let them see the ways we have been hurt and need healing. We need them to help us in that healing, but we continue on the vicious cycle because of pride.
    In my own life I to see that secrets eat us from the inside. Things are never spoken of, healing never comes, and forgiveness eludes. My sisters are oblivious to these secrets and it leaves them confused and lost as to why some things are the way they are. But telling the secrets would leave them with a burden to forgive that they currently do not carry not having known the wrong. On the other hand keeping the secret hurts the one who did the wrong because it has to always be hidden and forgiveness can’t be out in the open. I’m sure that because we can never talk about it or rather if we can never talk about it the eating away of the inside will continue. I don’t know how to stop it. I don’t even know anyone I can ask.

  • http://lindaspatchworkquilt.blogspot.com/ Linda

    Ann, I can hardly think of words to write that carry all that is in my heart. Your heart writes the story and we join the stories of our hearts with yours – and we begin to heal and to come closer together.
    The Father is using your story, your inspired words, to encourage and to bless in so many ways.
    I send you such love Ann .

  • Jenni

    Oh Ann…just…oh. My heart breaks for that 9 year old little girl who couldn’t just be a little girl. Bless you for your transparency. I love your words, as always.

  • http://www.aholyexperience.com Ann Voskamp

    I think about this too… struggle with what this means, its implications:

    Our secrets are human secrets, and our trusting each other to share them with each other has much to do with the secret of what it is to be human.”

    ~ Frederick Beuchner, Telling Secrets

  • http://www.culturesmithconsulting.com Cheryl Smith

    Ann,

    I have sumpin’ to tell you.

    I love you.

    I’m reminded thrice in less than a week, that “they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to death.”

  • http://melindatoad.com Mels Goin Goin Gone

    I was told to keep a secret as a child and even a young adult. One of those deep, disgusting secrets but I refused. And one day when my Mom found out and asked me why I would share such a thing, I told her, “Because it is NOT my secret to keep. I did nothing wrong.” She fell silent. She has since respected my right to tell. Because I can help other women who have been through the same thing. There is strength in the truth and I am keeping my strength, through Christ. I did nothing wrong and I absolutely refuse to pretend as though I did.

    Great post! I love it!

    • Gayle

      I’m envious of your conviction to tell the truth. I grew up with people lying to me and lying has become a part of who I am. I struggle with the truth. I want, more than anything, to be an honest person, but honesty does not come naturally to me. It breaks my heart to be the person that I am. I’m trying so hard to be honorable, trustworthy and TRUTHFUL.

      I truly believe we are as sick as our secrets.

      • Jacqueline

        Gayle,

        I can write those same words. I want to be an honorable, trustworthy and full of truth person. But I am not. And I am sick over my secrets.

        I’m praying for you this evening.

  • http://www.becomingseaglass.tumblr.com Becca

    I spent years wrapped up in the lies secrets can bind us in. A father’s sin, a mother’s anguish, generations of weighty destruction and no outlet to release it to. God rescued me, his love beaconing me from the dark shadows into the light. I have learned that for me nothing good happens in secret. It doesn’t mean that everything has to be thrust into the spotlight, but my wounds cannot be hidden behind closed doors and a good face. There is no healing there for me.

    I have promised God that any time I feel the prompting, I will share our story, mine and His. This is part of what he purposefully created in me. All things are not good, but there are glimpses of his good at work in all things. There is a quote that I found because of you Ann, and I love it. Tony Woodlief starts his book with it, it’s by Frederick Buechner.

    “Because all peddlers of God’s word have that in common, I think: they tell what costs them the least to tell and what will gain them most; and to tell the story of who we really are and of the battle between light and dark, between belief and unbelief, between sin and grace that is waged within us all costs plenty and may not gain us anything, we’re afraid, but an uneasy silence and a fishy stare.”

    It may cost me some pride, but I need less of that anyway. I tell our story because that is all I have of worth to give.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Thank you so much for sharing these words. You are so incredibly right in that not everything is good, but when we look, oh those glimpses of His good at work! They are precious sights. His redemptive work, His grace, His love (perhaps shown through others).

      Your closing sentence just stuck in my heart. To care less about my pride and share because it shows God’s great work of grace and redemption.

      Thanks for sharing Becca.

  • Anonymous

    Such a deep longing we have to be known and yet loved. And yet our layers and protections and masks keep us from really being known. And perhaps from being really loved then.

    “If they knew how I yelled at my kids or how stingy I can be at times or how afraid I am or that I’ve felt utter despair at times…” And so I hide.

    We don’t have to write them in a book or announce it to everyone we meet, but it does seem that if we really, really, really believed that HIS grace is sufficient and that He is glorified in my earthen vessel weakness, that I ought to be a little more willing to peel back some of the layers and let the secrets surface. With wisdom and discernment, of course. Wisdom from our Counselor, the Spirit.

    Thank you for this Ann. For helping us go to the hidden places… even when our flesh shouts “no”.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Thank you for the reminder that His grace is sufficient. That He is glorified in our weaknesses. I often forget that and when I remember, it makes me more transparent.

      Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.inamirrordimly.net Shannon

    Such a deep longing we have to be known and yet loved. And yet our layers and protections and masks keep us from really being known. And perhaps from being really loved then.

    “If they knew how I yelled at my kids or how stingy I can be at times or how afraid I am or that I’ve felt utter despair at times…” And so I hide.

    We don’t have to write them in a book or announce it to everyone we meet, but it does seem that if we really, really, really believed that HIS grace is sufficient and that He is glorified in my earthen vessel weakness, that I ought to be a little more willing to peel back some of the layers and let the secrets surface. With wisdom and discernment, of course. Wisdom from our Counselor, the Spirit.

    Thank you for this Ann. For helping us go to the hidden places… even when our flesh shouts “no”.

  • http://mrsthielke.blogspot.com/ Marybeth

    I tell my story (secrets*) to those who need to hear a testimony of God’s amazing redemptive grace. The things that have happened to me in my past happened for a reason, and my family made their choices for a reason. I am not held responsible for bearing the burden of keeping all those things locked up tight within. I am free of their abuse, of their lies, of their manipulation, only because I’ve had the courage to step up and bring another soul into it. To help guide me through the dirt and sewage, so that I don’t have to live in it till the day I die (what a terrible life that would be…) I would get up in front of hundreds of people (I have actually *gulp*) and proclaim what God has saved me from. If my family were in the audience, they would hear a message of hope and salvation, of grace and mercy, and hopefully God would use my shy and scared words to heal them and set them free from the garbage they carry around.
    Just my humble thoughts….

  • http://www.justfollowingjesus.com Elizabeth

    Dear Ann,
    I’m always overwhelmed at the threads of similarity in our life stories. When I was in 4th grade my mama went away to the state mental hospital. She checked herself in because she didn’t want to live anymore. At school I told my teacher that she was in the hospital because her and my daddy fought so much…that’s the reason I thought. What I didn’t know was that Mama was keeping secrets about things Daddy had done to my big sister, about Daddy’s unfaithfulness. While she was in the hospital all drugged up, Daddy had her sign papers for a new mortgage on the house. When she got out, he left all of us for another woman.
    Mama was still heavily medicated, had no driver’s license, no job. But a loving church gathered us up and loved us. Mama quit the meds, learned to drive, got a good job, and made a good home for us. She made sure we were in church. The three of us children left at home with Mama after Daddy left are all in full time ministry today…two of us minister in churches alongside our husbands, my brother, a full time missionary in Africa. All’s grace, sweet Ann…you are so right about that.
    It’s still easy for me to keep my heart all buttoned up safe, as I blogged about the other day. But here, when I write, it spills out.
    You have helped me unbutton my heart. Thank you so much.

    • http://livinglearningandlovingsimply.blogspot.com Aimee

      What a beautiful redemption-story…and an amazing snapshot of Jesus’ faithfulness. Thank you for sharing this!!

  • http://www.farfromflawlesslife.blogspot.com Missy

    Secrets do kill – I learned this personally and have witnessed in the lives of those I love. I’m so thankful that our God is one of Light and Truth who heals the devastation from which we try to hide. Yes, discretion is necessary, but sharing is essential to living!

    I’m sorry for the hurtful wounds of your past. I related because when I was in first grade, my mother was in an institution for mental illness for nine weeks. I didn’t understand then, but wisely it was not a secret in our family. It is just part of what makes us who we are – triumphant through earthly pain.

  • http://tina-beautyforashes.blogspot.com Tina

    Like Nina, I wonder if sometimes I am too transparent on my blog.. I don’t have that many readers anyway and that is fine, but sometimes the deafening silence makes me wonder if I have shared too much. I have made it private before and may again at some point. I am so convinced that the great need among believers right now is more transparency. Ann, God has used you to bless me again and again over the years. Thank you, dear one.

  • karen

    Ann, I really cannot tell you how much your writing, pictures, sharing, and the music on your blog have ministered to me, how God led me here at just this time, how much gratitude and praise have come to mean………. I lost my self when I was little in the midst of my mom’s 3 divorces, my dad’s 2 divorces, and just try to silently please everyone, keep the peace, no matter the cost………. but this post and each comment, and the grace and mercy here, are so good, to be brave yet discerning, to know it is okay to struggle and even make mistakes……….. thank you so very, very much.

  • Lynn

    Thank you, for sharing. I am a fellow secret keeper on a journey of learning to speak the things I have kept for so long. First mostly to myself. Your words encourage and give strength. The comments from your post also brought new revelations to me. In the past I tried so hard to be the perfect Mom and wife, only now to realize the impossibility of that task. The comment from Kathy about our children’s hurts – speaks volumes. I am not enough and I really am not expected to be enough for them. That job belongs to our heavenly Father. There is freedom in your words and knowing I am the only secret keeper. Thank you again. Continued blessings to you and your family.

    • karen

      Yes!

    • Lynn

      I met to say there is freedom in knowing I am “not” the only “secret keeper”. Thanks again.

  • http://pearlsandfences.blogspot.com/ Laura W.

    I just love this. Thank you so much for sharing and for being authentic and brave!

  • anonymous

    I grew up looking at Christian families who seemed to have it all together, and dreamed what it might be like to live among them instead of the screaming at home. But I was always on the outside, and still feel that way when confronted with church. How much more embracing would it have been to know that they struggled, too… How much more helpful the true honesty in process (rather than “I really struggled with x, but that’s all behind me now because God was faithful.”) I don’t know what the balance is in the sharing and the keeping, but I am floored to read these comments and realize that so many of the happy families I grew up wanting to join were probably just as fractured as my own.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Yep. We were. Or at least I was. We are all broken people and we try our best to cover up those broken little families with some kind of Christian make-up. It’s all a big ‘ole lie that Satan uses to make us a) not trust God and b) hate ourselves.

      Realizing we are not alone in brokenness is a huge huge step.

    • http://tina-beautyforashes.blogspot Tina

      Oh, so true dear one.

  • http://holley.dayspring.com Holley Gerth

    Oh, Ann, your words are life-giving, life-healing. Thank you for opening yourself to us, inviting us into grace. If there’s a secret you don’t know it’s this–how deeply, fully you are loved. And how much your words change the world…and will continue to.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Amen Holley.

      • Cheri

        Yes!

  • http://www.firefliesandhummingbirds.net Chrissy

    I keep my family’s secrets because I fear, so desperately, that if they were known, I would lose everything I have.

    I often hate myself for not trusting The Father enough to just lay it all out on the table, and believe that He will protect us.

    The secrets eat away at me, often waking me from my sleep.

    I appreciate the prayers. Thank you, Ann.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Father, Be with Chrissy. Help her to realize that when You’ve called us to bring something into Your marvelous light that You will ALWAYS provide the grace and the healing and the love we need to go on. To move forward. Whatever we need, You will provide. And You are so faithful to do that.

      God, restore the parts of Chrissy that are being eaten away by Satan’s lies and guilt. Help her to realize Your love is always bigger. It always wins.

      I pray these things believing that You will help her in her time of need.

      Amen.

      • Kathy

        Amen, Father,

    • http://nonniesblessings.blogspot.com nonnie

      praying…………
      In Jesus name…

      nonnie

  • http://www.thefaeryinn.wordpress.com Tiff

    I don’t really know what to say. I am fighting a few secrets myself, but have finally sought help from a brother and sister in Christ. Secret thoughts and emotions and struggles are exactly what has been crushing me slowly.

    My healing has begun, but I have a feeling there is still more to be dealt with.

    Pray that my healing would continue…

  • http://forsakenforlent.blogspot.com deb

    How I wish I could take away those dark night realities of your living Ann. You are loved.

    I have been thinking about this so much lately. I remember talking to someone about my estrangement from my mother, trying to justify it, trying to not say too much, and once again I didn’t feel like the person understood. I wanted to be understood. I told some of the truth of what living in that house was like. Of some of the things my step-father did , my mother did or didn’t do. Mostly neglect or physical punishment . Verbal abuse.
    It felt good. I got the … oh , I get it. I needed the validation for myself. I needed to feel comforted in why I am so cold and not caring and unforgiving. Yet not hours later I suddenly felt guilty . For putting myself before my children.. not wanting their lives to have any “messy”, not wanting a teacher or professor or coach etc to look at my child as the one with that story attached. Small as it is. It feels like it shouldn’t matter. It is done. And I felt guilty because I know when I was a younger mother how broken I was and how in trying to come up from under and parent and be a wife , how very very close I came to repeating the cycle. In fact , I’m sure my older children have many memories of a raging , sobbing, push them away with words and hands mother. I have looked into my child’s eyes while cleaning up their bloody nose, knowing full well I caused it by shoving them into bed with my anger . So now I feel like casting stones.
    And I need to figure out how to tell my story , our story , in the way that let’s me live fully, and does no harm. Or maybe just keep living this story that is unfolding and let His will be done.

    • Anonymous

      I, too, have been too rough on my kids and understand what you mean. It hurts a lot.

      I’m praying that you will find a way to tell the story that heals you and your kids and does no harm.

  • Katie

    Ann,
    I have read your blog for quite a while and have always been able to relate. I didn’t know why until now, till after I read this post post today. There is deep connection that wounded souls have with one another. We share the same story. I was 9, running a household, tending to needs(physically and emotionally) that in my tender young age I could never meet. Parents who “didn’t know any better.” Having to keep secrets. Having to hold theirs…plagued with the most intense anxiety, but having to go on and be strong for the younger sibling.

    Carrying that into my marriage at 19(I’m 34 now) and raising my 5 precious babies while trying to recover from,”the years the locusts have eaten”, to allow Him to make me whole,has been difficult to say the least. I know that the Lord is trying to raise up a pure and mighty generation, and heal ours at the same time. I literally have been “saved through childbirth.” And with the love of my wonderful husband(like yours, holds me when I’m anxious and weak) has been God’s grace poured out on me, even though I didn’t recognize it at first!

    Thank you, thank you for being poured out for wounded souls, keeping your candle lit and helping us all to see Him in the dark.

    Love,
    Katie

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Amen Katie. There is a deep connection that woudned souls share. It amazes me what God chooses to use to redeem us. Children. Friends. So many things.

      Thanks for sharing.

  • Priya

    I just wrote a post today of my childhoood and family life..I felt quite bad of letting all the secrets out.But after reading your post it has given me courage after all I was glorifying god who had a big role to play in my life.

    Love
    Priya

  • Sharon O

    Oh Anne this writing hit home with me. I carry things not shared even now for to say ‘it’ would open the wound up and open the feelings up and oh my why would I want to do that?
    I was sad to hear that as a child you were supposed to be an adult. Isn’t that the way it is sometimes? Parents who don’t know how to parent become parents only to have the child who they should be caring for CARE for them? It is a vicious cycle and one only God through his spirit can heal and break.
    Anne I have read your blog so many times and felt that your ‘depth’ came from a place inside that had to struggle. For only those who came from broken ness can write from depth and healing. You are so gifted and so blessed and someday I would love to meet you. thank you for your honesty it is refreshing

  • http://jennyrain.com Jenny

    soooo true… this year I have been learning to share my stories. The heart-wrenching painful stories, and the beautiful ones (sometimes they are one in the same). I am still better sharing with pen and paper – verbal sharing is a territory that I have only begun to touch my big toe in the water of… but I will get there. Beautiful post Ann

  • kathy

    Secrets kept in the dark are so harmful. My story is similar to yours however my family still doesn’t talk about the past except for me except I am made to feel like I need to leave it in the past and get on with it. Thank goodness I have a great church, a wonderful ladies group and a Celebrate Recovery sponsor who has helped me work through the process of bringing it out of the dark and letting God shine His light on in so that I can heal and not be a prisoner of all the hurts and pain that the past had paralyzed me with. Praise God for His mercy, love and healing.

  • http://www.createbeautyfromashes.com Victoria

    I don’t remember how I found your blog at first – I think it was through Compassion – but I have been deeply touched by your words over and over. I could tell in your eyes that you had been deeply hurt in the past. I have experienced my own deep nights of the soul, and have learned, and continue to learn, how absolute is my Savior’s love and how complete it makes me.

    When i was able to give voice to the lies and deceptions, it was so freeing! But, as many have said here in these comments, it’s usally best to find one person at first to share it with. Growth is gradual and steady – plants become strongest when they are allowed to mature at their own pace.

    Thank you so much for sharing with us your heart, and in doing so, causing us to look into our own reflecting pools for healing.

  • Christine

    It’s a pretty powerful revelation to realize that there are no such thing as secrets. Just lies. Lies that try to bind and chain a soul until God’s Truth comes to set people free. :) All is always laid bare before our loving and beautiful Father. He sees. Everything. Nothing is ever hidden. HE sees all, and in His time, He brings everything to the Light. His justice reigns with supremecy and mercy, leaving traces of love and grace behind for all. Whatever the enemy tried to do to kill, steal, and destory, Jesus Christ has now come and shed His blood to pour out LIFE and LIFE abundantly to HEAL, FILL, and RESTORE. God’s Word says that, indeed, the enemy is overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of testimony in Jesus Christ. He is so worthy of ALL OUR PRAISE! God bless you.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      YES! So so so true. Thank you for sharing these words of truth Christine.

  • http://missusburnham.blogspot.com Anna Beth

    How blatant it is, how obvious when we look around that the sins of the fathers become the sins of the children. For that family.

    And yet, for some reason, I don’t see my own life as such. It took time to realize reality and tell the truth of my covered ache. It was a slow flooding of the awareness of the pervasiveness of the pain, and now (somehow) I can accuse and blame and hold tight and call that experience a train-wreck. But with just as much vigor, I will excuse myself and deny that I could ever, ever, ever cause a train-wreck my babies’ lives.

    Until I see them growing up being little ones of me. And I know that they hold my same grief. No! So, with David, I must bow down and weep my neediness to the Living and Gracious One:

    “Have mercy on my, O God,
    according to your steadfast love;
    according to your abundant mercy
    blot out my transgressions.
    Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
    and cleanse me from my sin!

    Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight….
    Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
    and in sin did my mother conceive me.

    Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
    and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

    Purge me…and I shall be clean;
    wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
    Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones that you have broken rejoice….

    Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
    and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

    Hmm…I can breathe deep and laugh and rest. Oh–I long for truth in my inward being…

  • Pinky

    Holy maceral, this hit me in MY heart. I. too, kept a secret: from my friends, neighbors, schoolmates, cousins etc. My Mother drank. Alot. I was a chilkd in the 50’s. NOBODY talked about it. It shattered my heart too. I wanted my Mother. I wanted to NOT have a secret to keep. I am printing this out to show some loved ones. THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! XO, Pinky

  • http://somecallthemsticks.typepad.com Amy Lu

    I have been a witness to many secrets – my own and those of others. Some things I have come to know over the years:

    God does not allow us to be hurt beyond His healing. It may take time, but eventually, somewhere between here and one foot past heaven’s gate we can trust we will be healed.

    God gives purpose to things the world calls “purposeless” and “senseless”.

    Very recently God told me to share some of my secrets with my friend and her son. He’s been struggling and God told me he needed to hear the parts of my life that I try hard to not think about. I reluctantly obeyed, but I was very encouraged when the sky did not fall as I had expected it to (warm smile). God was gracious enough to encourage me through the words and tears of my friend afterward (she said that it was a timely thing and she saw how the Holy Spirit orchestrated it.)

    He gives purpose, and there will be a way that he will use you to encourage another. Even by sharing our secrets.

    “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” 2 Cor. 1:3-5 ESV

    There seems to me to be a season of receiving comfort and a season for sharing comfort. If you are in the receiving season, it may not be time to share yet. Lean into Him and let it be what it is. He will lead you beside still waters. He will give you rest.

    Ann is in the sharing season.

    I appreciate you, Ann, and your constant willingness to live as you are called, and that He puts that fire in you to write it down for our encouragement.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      These are absolutely beautiful words of truth Amy Lu. He always has a purpose to our sharing. And we may not even get to know about it, but when we share, I think Hope is given. To hear someone else say ‘I’ve been through this, or I’ve struggled and God’s grace has brought me so far.

      “God does not allow us to be hurt beyond His healing. It may take time, but eventually, somewhere between here and one foot past heaven’s gate we can trust we will be healed.”

      Seriously. Just so much truth.

      Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.angiewashington.com @ngie

    Ann, you have given us powerful images of redemption. He redeemed even the whisper.

  • http://daisyhomeschoolblog.blogspot.com Daisy

    I’m crying. You so echoed the deep places of my own heart with this post.

    I posted on this just this past week. And then promptly buried it in my month-ago posts for fear my family would see it. Sigh.

    http://daisyhomeschoolblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/vulnerability.html

  • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

    Ann, this is an absolutely beautiful post and I’m so sorry for you’re having to be an adult at such a young age. My nephew is going through the same thing and I just want to take him in and wrap him up and say please, do not take these burdens on. Give them to me. Give them to God. It hurts.

    I’ve learned this year, especially prompted by some of Sarah Markley’s writings, to bring these things into the light. Where Satan’s grip is lost. Where God’s grace and redemptive work can begin. I’ve spoken these things over with a trusted friend and slowly God has called me to share with other trusted people. I’ve replied to some of the other comments, but I firmly believe that when God compels us to share these secrets, His grace always goes before us. Preparing the hearts of those who hear. It’s a hard thing, learning to let go of my pride so that God’s grace (I know I keep coming back to that, but really, that’s what it’s all about) and His redemptive power can shine through. God has shown up again and again in showing me that He can redeem anything. He gave me Isaiah 43:1 when I was struggling. I choose to believe that He can redeem anything. Even my nasty little secrets.

    In short, I’m learning to be transparent. It hurts to be real. But that’s the only way to live.

    Thank you so much for these words. They were powerful in speaking to my Spirit this morning.

  • http://somewhereinthymedesign.blogspot.com/2010/04/my-second-most-favorite-spot-in-world.html Bonnie

    Thanks for sharing.
    My mother was an alcoholic…we were all about secrets, lies, and shame.
    I have taken a different tact, I hate secrets and lies. I share, I am open, I am all in. It did take a work of God to heal my heart. Sometimes being open and honest does hurt but, I have found that being open is a much more free way of living than lies and secrets. God has done a work in me and I won’t go back. And I finally realized, for all the “mothering” I was lacking HE provided through Himself (if He can be Father to the Fatherless he can be Mother to the motherless) Grateful for your words and open sharing. Thank you.

  • Bernadette

    Ann,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story. . I can’t stop crying as I read all the other women who have the words to tell their stories. For a long time I prayed that God would provide people who I could share with and help. I don’t know how to tell my story, but I thank God for all of these brave women that he put in my path, allowing me to cry without shame. Praise be to God!

  • http://alwaysseekinghigherground.blogspot.com/ Nora

    Sometimes we keep secrets out of love…not wanting to inflict the pain it would cause our families. Then again some would say that it is not love, but us… enabling the sin of pride. It’s a fine line isn’t it?

    ~Love You Ann. With God’s help, you have broken the abusive “secret” cycle so that your family does not have to suffer from the sins of previous generations.

  • tiffany

    Wow what an amazing story – really appreciate the way you expressed your heart.

    thank you for the reminder to live openly – nobody benefits when we hide ourselves! The truth is not good or bad – its just the truth and we should learn to be better embrace it and look for opportunities in the truth to become closer to Him and our loved ones!

    xoTiffany

    • Kathy

      Tiffany, you have given me some words to chew on. “Nobody benefits when we hide ourselves.” and “The truth is not good or bad, it’s just the truth.” I need to let those things soak in and mull them over. Thank you for sharing.

  • http://www.chickswithchoices.com Kim Galgano

    As a lover of “real” this spoke to the very inside of me like few do. Keep spilling forth!

  • http://writingcanvas.wordpress.com Loni

    Ohhhhh, Ann . . . I weep for you . . . I weep for me . . . we know that pain. I look forward to sharing our secrets again. Hugs & love, my dear friend.

  • Susan

    oh, how I have learned to hate secrets . . I have watched them take my 4 year old grandson from a happy little boy – to an aggressive, scared, angry boy – -because his father abused him and told him it was their secret . . .and then my son, who had become entrapped in a sexual addiction kept his life secret until it all crumbled down.

    As I read your post I wanted to yell, no more secrets! Only truth. Even when it hurts. Even if it embarrasses. Even when the consequences of the secret bring heartbreak. Because only in the truth can we heal. Sometimes, probably most times, when we keep the secret we are loving those people straight to hell. We aren’t helping them heal, we aren’t helping them confess, we aren’t helping them to get the help they need – -instead we are allowing them to live in the dark.

    your post today and the comments I have read are heartbreaking. May we all be released from the things that bind us . ..and have the strength and courage to trust God with our circumstances, our pain. May we be instruments of healing and truth, so God can be glorified.

    Thank you for sharing – you touch my heart and my spirit. Thank you for the truth,

  • http://bethlee.livejournal.com/ Beth Werner Lee

    I’m broken.
    Scared.
    Let me try.
    I married a man my mother didn’t like. My mother, Greek: warm, self-controlled, wise, impatient! My husband, Chinese: idealistic, handsome, head-to-my-heart. Both American born, second generation, both excellent teacher-types. Oil and water. I was Persephone for 11 years. Then I prayed Hannah’s prayer and God gave us a daughter.
    Peace at any price, being either daughter or wife but not both at the same time didn’t work when I had to be mother, consistent…yet God was calling me. Loving my baby I was more myself. Singing to her no matter who heard me, daring the public transportation strong, and receiving the kindnesses of strangers who help mothers with a stroller! But still the pain, still the pull between husband and mother…and God. And then mom died of breast cancer after my daughter’s 6th birthday and I felt I lost an anchor. Lost my upline. But when I cried out to God he let me know his love will come through many people, look for it. Learning to wait on him. As I write this I realize it was about transitioning from Persephone to Hannah…and my self.

  • Craig

    Crickets chirping
    Nothing to add
    How can i add to that
    I’m slain
    I’m split
    Again
    Every time I read Ann Voskamp
    ooooof

  • Debbie in PA

    The saddest part to me of your post is that something that was done to your mother, herself probably just a child, was so painful, so egregious, that she could only bear the pain and move forward by disassociating herself from it. By having another personality bear that pain and memory. And I guess this coping mechanism worked for a while, but not forever, and then you too, just a child, were hurt by things that happened before you were born. Her secrets became yours. And you carry that pain forward too.

    It’s a difficult line to walk, honoring your family who caused you such great pain and themselves did not act in a godly way. (I am speaking of your mother’s family). By keeping secrets, who are we really protecting? The victim? or the person/people who victimize? Are we really honoring them? I don’t know. I am so thankful that I have not personally had to deal with this, but I wonder who among my friends and acquaintenances may have.

    Strange coincidence, but I was watching a show just yesterday on dissociative personalities disorder (multiple personalities). The host spoke of an earlier show they did on the same topic, and the calls they got from women who had been victimized as children and how they finally sought help after seeing the earlier show. It was so, so sad. Unimaginable cruelty inflicted by “loved” ones. So much pain and lost lives.

    Sorry for the long ramble. May God bless your Mother–such a brave woman. And Ann, may God continue to bless you and your ministry, and help you continue to heal, too.

  • http://www.harseverse.blogspot.com willowsprite

    Sometimes I wish that I could spill out all my pain on my personal blog as well. It’s pain of the past. I started a handwritten journal instead.
    Thankfully I have a wonderful, supportive husband who listens to all my painful memories. I am determined to not repeat any mistakes. I couldn’t imagine doing the things my parents did to me regardless.
    I never feel normal when I see them, particularly my dad. I never had a “relationship” with him growing up, (unless you call drunken torturer/torturee a relationship) so he feels like a stranger still. And there’s never a discussion about it, there just seems so be nothing wrong, and he’ll never confess it on his own. That’s where the forgiveness question comes in. How do you forgive when they act like nothing is wrong? This is a question I’ve been struggling with for quite a while now, since I’ve been reflecting on it lately. Along with, “How can anyone do that to their precious children?”
    My story remains a secret too. A secret I’ve only shared with my husband, and the Lord.
    Thankyou for your story, Ann. Maybe someday I can publicly tell mine, too.

    • natalie

      I say this carefully and with utmost love for you… because your heart is my heart and I have been where you’re standing right now.

      I know what it is to hold a shattered soul and feel the need for their repentance so that the bleeding will stop. I know what it is to not receive that.

      But for the grace and love of One who loves me (and you) immeasureably more than we could imagine — He showed me that to forgive is to set my own heart free.
      Forgiveness is not because the other deserves it or has earned it. To release the offense is to release your own heart into healing.

      Hurting people can do nothing but hurt other people. The depth of pain inflicted on us would only serve as a signal to the depth of pain inficted on them. There are no excuses. But there are reasons why.

      I came to know a thing called Grace. He changed me. A life unravelled at the seams. Desperate ache for love unconditional. Grace met me. And I began to see that we all do the best we can. Often its not enough. But Grace holds us still.
      Perhaps not in the same way, but different ways – I have inflicted the pain I carried on to those around me as well.
      Grace.
      But for His Grace.

      When we hold on to the pain it becomes the very thing we trip on in our effort to do it better. And there will never be an apology big enough or sincere enough to heal the place thats broken. Only God can heal.

      Forgiveness is not reconcilation. There is a difference.
      And there is no obligation in forgivness to continue to allow unhealthy relationships. Releasing the debt is simply the beginning of our own journey in wholeness.

  • http://wendyjanelle.blogspot.com/ Wendy @ Living Creatively

    Girl. You have no idea.
    My Mom was also diagnosed with bipolarism & disassociative personality disorder (the new name for split personalities) when I was a child. She’s wrestled with it her whole life. For my mother, it was her older brother who had done things to her…

    My family was quiet, secretive, show only the Happy Face. My Mom would threaten to jump out of moving cars. She would leave for days, and we wouldn’t know where she was. She is a great mother…but also unpredictable and unreliable. I became the second adult in the family. I fixed my little sisters’ hair, taught them to wear make-up. They came to me when they got their periods.
    It’s so hard for me to “be real.” I was taught, indirectly, that people would judge and condemn; that I would not be accepted; that we would suffer.
    I’m used to sharing only the good– so used to it, that I often don’t even recognize what I’m doing.
    I took off and went my own way as a teenager, and almost destroyed myself. There’s a testimony there that I don’t share because I feel like it’s off-limits. My testimony involves others, and how can I share these things for them? But it’s all there, it’s all me, and it’s all locked away.
    I don’t ever want my children to feel that way or carry my burdens, but I feel powerless to unlock these chained doors…

  • http://www.butterbeanandpeanut.com Christi

    so hard to find out that secrets hurt…they may save you a moment of pain but the pain that follows when the secrets come out is unbearable. my secrets have been told. to my God. to my husband. to my family. i hold them no more and have never felt more free. i will listen and pray for all of us that struggled or still struggle with our pasts, our secrets. know that i know, no matter what hides in your past, i think you are wonderful.

  • Angela

    Ann,

    What powerful words you speak. I am shattered a thousand times over, but I know it is not without reason. God bless you and all you’ve endured as a young girl. I too have secrets. Yet, in some ways they are not mine to share, because it is not my own, but someone else’s. It still doesn’t lessen the fact that they run deep in the core of my heart, re-opening wounds that have never had time to heal as a result.

    My question is: how can one share their hurt as a result of another’s sin that they are not yet willing to confess? I struggle with this daily, although I have forgiven the person whom I love dearly. I long to reach out, to a trusted friend or even my pastor, but by doing this, I place the other person in a position that he is not yet willing to face. Confessing his wrongdoing with someone other than the one he’s offended. I ask God to continually give me the ability to extend grace and mercy to the one I love, although at times it has proven to be difficult, especially when I’ve changed so much as a result of this.

    Does this mean I am fake? In some ways, yes. I’m torn between being loyal and faithful to his request and not being true to who I am by revealing the very real hurt I still carry. All of this at the risk of what? Onlookers no longer having a picture-perfect view? (Of him, not me). I pray one day that this story will be able to be shared with others, completely open and honest, that it might heal another in a similar situation.

    Thank-you for this.

  • http://momsheart48.blogspot.com Susan McCurdy

    As a child of a dad with mental illness and knowing what it is like to live in that roller coaster….I agree that the secrets strangle the life out of you. So the truth does set us free …free to know that we are all so much the same as the other …and then the comparing stops in the negative way and becomes a comparing that is positive and that says “I understand.” Thanks for sharing your life and thoughts with all of the rest of us!

  • http://amylsullivan.blogspot.com/ Amy Sullivan

    Ann,
    As soon as I started reading this post, I had to fight the urge to immediately scroll down and see the author. I was hooked. I could relate.

    Secrets, yes, sometimes I think I’ve come to terms with mine. Other times they like to dance around and make noise in my head, but they have helped shape me, and they have taught me when the bottom falls out, God is all that remains.

  • Anne

    In my elementary years I went to a private school. On two occasions there were under screened teachers. There was sexual abuse and violence involved. I never talked about it for years. I have spoken and thought those things lost their terror, their hold. Now I’ve returned to University and find that depending on the situation those feelings of anxiety are so overwhelming I can’t think even though I’m a Senior with a summa cum laude grade average. At times I’m afraid I’ll ruin my academic credibility because of it. I am speaking to a counselor, but some days my brain is in such a fog I can barely concentrate. Thanks for the message.

  • http://www.safehavenministry.org Lissa

    I am a survivor of domestic violence. Sharing my “secret” was one of the most difficult things I ever did. My favorite thing is God’s ability to make beauty from our ashes. I am the director of a ministry for victims of domestic abuse called Safe Haven. God has lead me to write a Bible study from my experiences that offers hope to victims. He has used it in amazing and humbling ways. Satan wants us to remain silent. he feeds off of our solitude. God gives hope through His Word and community. I never dreamed sharing my ugly past could hold any benefits. How amazing is God?!

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Lissa, you are so right in saying that satan feeds off of our solitude. He holds power in the keeping of secrets.

      You’re like a real life Joseph in that what satan meant for evil, for your harm (your abuse) but oh how God meant it for good!! The people that take part in your ministry, in the Bible study you’ve written. I’m sure they see the good. I can see the good.

      God is amazing to redeem those things that we thought we’d never be able to overcome :)

      Blessings to you!

  • http://www.iliveinanantbed.blogspot.com I Live in an Antbed

    I have no words to tell you the deep places in my heart that have been touched by your story. Following your blog the last several weeks has blessed me so much, it hurts. A beautiful ache. Beauty does that to me. I always weep in it’s presence. The kids know when my voice catches as I read aloud to them that my heart is overflowing, running down my face, and so they quietly wait until it subsides and I can continue reading to them. We LOVE our read-aloud time.

    Thank you for the transparency of your pure heart before the Lord. It causes me to worship Him. I am so very thankful for you and the Truth you declare in such a powerfully beautiful way.

    I’m weeping again.

  • http://www.safehavenministry.net Lissa

    I am a survivor of domestic violence. Sharing my “secret” was one of the most difficult things I ever did. My favorite thing is God’s ability to make beauty from our ashes. I am the director of a ministry for victims of domestic abuse called Safe Haven. God has lead me to write a Bible study from my experiences that offers His hope to victims. He has used it in amazing and humbling ways. Satan wants us to remain silent. he feeds off of our solitude. God gives hope through His Word adn community. I never dreamed sharing my ugly past could hold any benefits. How amazing is God?!

  • Pingback: fridays thoughts « A Beautiful Mess()

  • Nancy

    The secrets are sometimes too hard not only to bear but to “bare”. I always want to protect someone else before holding myself dear and whispering those comforting words “it will be alright”. I know I lack courage but I do have Grace.

  • elaina

    i have cried at almost every entry today. i’m with “antbed” writer, in that i weep seeing such pain, and then seeing such magnificent beauty. thank you, everyone, for today~

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      God’s grace is like that…it’s a magnificent beauty. Don’t you think? I may not be crying, but I definitely get the holy chills reading of God’s redemptive work through people sharing.

      • elaina

        i’m starting–slooooowly–to want for God’s imminence, and not merely His transcendence. My hubby is talking–slooooowly–with me about desiring God to be close and near and inside and know my heart deeply, and not merely as the Creator of the Grand Universe Who stands ‘over there.’ Grace can’t heal me if it is ‘over there.’

  • http://www.pinkdivacafe.com Noel Miskovsky

    I have been open about my story of abuse and heart break and noone has ever cared. Noone. Noone has ever acted as if they really wanted me to talk about it, to share it with them. I don’t know if it because it is an ugly story that you want to turn away from and not hear, like flipping quickly past the images of starving children on the televsision or if their hearts are just hardened over, either way, I would love someday to have someone truly care about my story.
    Noel

    • Anonymous

      Praying you find the right person to tell who will care., who can hear the ugliness and still see you.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Praying for you Noel. That God would send someone that truly cares about the stories in your heart to listen to you. To care for you. To minister to you.

    • http://forsakenforlent.blogspot.com deb

      I hurt for you in this Noel. I do think people have a hard time with the really hard stuff. It’s fear perhaps. Shock. And also maybe a little part of them doesn’t want to believe it. I care in just this little bit here… but I do know what you mean. When others don’t live up to our expectations it magnifies the pain we are already feeling. I hope something comes about to change this. Perhaps you could turn your story into some kind of art or work that would express the story in a different way .

      • elaina

        I’m praying too, Noel.

  • Caroline

    Thank you for this, Ann.

    While I was never told to keep our family hurts secret, I did. My imprisoned brother just lived one state over but was always “too busy” to visit. Once, on a Brownie trip, one little girl announced to the whole carload: “I saw your brother on TV. He’s in jail.” I just sat and cried.

  • Anonymous

    Me, too.

    Grandfather who was a raging alcoholic. Grandmother who was hoarder and compulsive talker. I was their favorite grandchild and I hurt for the others who were not.

    My parents’ unhappy marriage. Father who has fallen in love with someone else. They threaten divorce but stay together. So we move. And move again. And again. Excruciating for me, the oldest and very shy.

    Then the binge drinking. Never knowing what would set it off. The underlying anger. Walking on eggshells. And sometimes keeping the house (but at an older age than you). Long conversations with my dad about her. I was trying to help…

    I told a few people, including a therapist. It got better.

    Now it is me who has secrets that I don’t want the kids to tell. Sometimes I get so mad I rage at them. Ugly face, loud voice, full-bore anger. Occasionally, I even hit them. It is wrong, so wrong.

    I’ve prayed to have the anger taken away, but it hasn’t happened.

    Maybe I skipped the step of honestly talking to God about it? Just went straight for the cure? I know when I confess and repent, I am supposed to feel cleansed but I do not. I feel horribly defective.

    I watch the words I say to my kids, but I am becoming aware of the words I say to myself. I say things to myself so that I anesthetize myself. No matter what anyone says to me, it won’t hurt because I have already said ugly things to myself. Judged myself far more harshly than they could. It was a plan I came up with as a defense. It is not working very well.

    Prayers, please, for the willingness to get honest with God. To stop talking so horribly to myself. And for the healing power of love to work in this family…

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Father, I don’t know what to say. I simply pray that you show her that Your love is bigger than everything. That Your grace is deep enough for any shame. That you always want the best for us.

      Help her to forgive herself. Help her to move into Your light. Things are so much better out there. Guide her gently to where You want her. Help her to hear Your Spirit.

      God, restore this family. You are the only one that can. I pray these things believing that You will see them completed.

      Amen.

      • Anonymous

        Thank you for the prayer. I have read it several times and will continue to do so. Thank you.

    • http://www.iliveinanantbed.blogspot.com I Live in an Antbed

      Oh Father God,
      Please reveal the lies of the evil one. The lies that say, “worthless”, “defective”, “broken”, “hopeless”. Replace them with Your Truth. You have declared this precious one to be Your Beloved One, infinite in worth. Because You have loved, because You have redeemed, because You have declared it, it is True! Open the blinded eyes so they may gaze into Your Face and see its radiance, see Your Love. Open the ears that have been deafened by the screeching lies, so that they may hear You singing over them as they sleep. Fill the mouth with gratitude and blessing and truth. Do not allow it to repeat the lies to precious children who need to hear Your Love and Truth declared in that home. Take every thought captive, shine Light into the deepest recesses of the spirit and drive out every scrap of ugliness that the evil one has planted there. Open the lips to declare Your Glory. Declare it out loud and use it to beat back the darkness that seeks to envelop. Surround that family and home with Your hedge of protection so that any evil influence will be turned away. Bring instead those whose feet carry Good News. Allow them to come alongside this broken heart and help carry the burden while healing takes place. Please, Abba, restore the years the locusts have eaten. Be Glorified in this heart, in this family!

      • Anonymous

        A beautiful prayer for me and I thank you for it. I will read it again and again.

    • elaina

      Father God. You are the Ultimate Physician. I don’t have other words than that; please draw Anonymous to YOU~

    • Jill

      I too know what it is like to realize that you are hurting your kids by your rages and sometimes hitting
      I hated that I was that way and seemed powerless to stop.
      I sought help over and over and over and prayed and read and eventually began to change.
      I too am a product of despicable things done by other people to me
      God has healed me so much
      I am a different person now.
      I am safe now
      and I am thankful
      He loves us so much
      He wants to walk this journey with us but we have to let Him in, over and over.
      Being honest with safe people who love and pray for me is key in the journey.
      So I want to give you hope that healing is possible
      I know and I am thankful

  • Susi

    Thank you for sharing openly. I had VERY similar experiences growing up. My mother never got over post partum depression after my birth. She was institutionalized over and over during my childhood. We (my sister and I) were never told where she was, she was just gone and then would reappear. I too took over dinners and laundry and lunches at age 9. It’s uncanny to think about. I have lots of memory gaps. Remember few birthdays or holidays. My mother was also abusive. She attacked me because she couldn’t get at my dad. I spent years going through the layers of forgiveness, but God doesn’t waste our pain. I married young and my husband has listened and learned through the years (29 years now). I still have broken places, but I’m not stuck. We have 8 children and God has given much grace. I have a relationship with both my parents. Although I’m more of a parent to both of them. My dad still likes my ear way too much. That’s been a hard one for me to address because he’s a child in many ways emotionally from his own hard childhood.

    My husband and I are missionaries on a college campus and I have opportunities to listen to students stories. Many (most) are scarred. I share some of my stories with them and they are often amazed that another person can relate. It’s funny how we typically feel that were the only ones. My sharing lifts a veil of sorts. It’s not that I have many answers. But knowing your not alone is huge and seeing me 25 years ahead of them somehow gives hope.

    There were many times I just hung on to God. I learned not to ask why. I became independent, wary of anyone, trusting (really deep trusting) no-one but myself. God has gently taught me to change, take risks, trust, have courage to be dependent even if I’m wronged, give grace upon grace, etc. It’s 2 steps forward and 1 step back. It’s a lifelong process. God is in the process of restoration and I’m so grateful he hasn’t let me stay stuck in bad patterns. My sister hasn’t processed as I have and she is a mess. I pray for God’s grace to break into her life.

    Thanks again for sharing intimately. Susi

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Susi, thank YOU for sharing. You hit the nail head on when you say God does not waste our pain. That’s something I’ve come to realize. Someone else commented earlier and said that while not every thing is good, God can make good in any situation (that’s paraphrased).

      You are also so right in saying that sharing lifts a veil. It brings things into His light instead of the scary scary dark.

      God loves us too much to let us stay stuck in our bad patterns. He gently loves us into good patterns (at least I think).

      Thank you for sharing Susi. Praising God for the work He’s done in your life :)

  • Anonymous

    I have struggled for years. I grew up in a home with a loving mother, but she constantly nagged my father. My father was my idol. Then my father did something to ruin that faith I had in him. I then could see a little of my mother’s pain and maybe why she nagged. Anyway I always said I didn’t want to be like her. Now I have seen that I did become like her in a few ways and it was in the bad ways. I nagged my husband , because of my nerves, my fear , and because I was organized and he was not.
    My husband and I have found forgiveness from God and in each other , and are not in unity, but it did effect our children. We have asked them to forgive , but my daughter does not forgive. And she left home in anger ( due to rebellion to biblical principles in the home) a couple of years ago and she has nothing to do with us , no contact, etc.
    We love and miss her so much. It is painful to have a prodigal child. I wish she knew a lot of what I went through as a child , that led me to fear and nagging. I tried to tell her some of it, but she does not think any of it to be good enough reason for my nerve problems and not good enough reason for me ruining her life( she claims).
    I am a mother now suffering rejection from a child and many family members. I hide their past , but they all talk of mine and make me look bad to my child. I share some of their past with my husband and he sees they hurt me so much as a child that I have bore so much that brought fear into me for my children’s future, therefore was usually nagging over something I thought needed to be done different for their protection.
    Anyway, I have secrets and have shared them with God and a few friends. Maybe I have told too much, maybe not. But I can say it has been healing to talk to someone.
    I have hurt so much over my child leaving in anger and her diliberate actions to hurt me in her anger. I have shared some of her sinful actions with some folk because I was crying out for prayer for her. I may have shared too much, but in my heart I meant well , I meant to help her. I feel ashamed for telling too much to too many people now. But I have gone to God and found forgiveness.
    The pain is here and goes away a little at a time. God is healing. But the pain of having a child still rejecting me is so unbearable at times.
    Some have told me to KEEP my mouth shut and let God heal. Some have told me it is o.k, to grieve and share the pain, but just be careful who I share it with.
    I say it is good to have a sister in Christ to cry with and pray with.
    Healing can not take place if the wound is not open to drain first, then it can heal with all the poison drained out.
    Well, I have said too much maybe, but it helped to vent.
    I will pray for God to help us all.
    Thank you for having a site to allow us to do this and know others are out there hurting too and we are not alone and abnormal.
    The sick went to God , they did not hide. Some of them cried out to God and some told them to Keep their mouth shut. God cared and healed and HE will us too.

    • http://www.iliveinanantbed.blogspot.com I Live in an Antbed

      May He reveal His perfect will to you as you continue to walk into complete healing. He has promised to give wisdom when we cry out for it. I know He is Sufficient! I know He can bring wholeness and healing and beauty out of ashes. In our brokenness, He will glorify Himself. Praying for you to know ever more fully just how deeply He loves you.

  • Anonymous

    I meant to say in my post that since my husband and I went to God and found forgiveness, we ARE IN UNITY and it is beautiful.

    • elaina

      oh! i’m so glad you clarified that. i was so sad, previously~

  • Craig

    My Secret: (well, one of them)

    There was a time, ages ago, like last week, when all I could write was written in blah blah. Faith does blah. The Bible says blah. The Greek word for faith is blah and this means blah. Blah blah theology. Blah blah preaching. Blah blah pointing fingers. Blah blah I’m so smart. Then I started reading words written by Joanne, and Ann Voskamp, and Amber Haines, and Holley Gerth,

    You all have your children. (are there little Holley’s) I’ve never had a one. In a few weeks I give birth to my blog – it doesn’t even have a name yet – it might even be twins. And I have been burying myself in your words that slice through the intellect and find a home in the heart.

    I read.
    I tear up.
    My heart grows like the Grinch.

    I don’t know what y’all know.
    Degrees only fill the head, not the soul.
    I can’t say what you say with such elegance.
    I thought I could write but you all are giving me a crash course on heart writing instead of head writing. I feel – really, really, feel – rescued, and so absolutely blessed that God led me to you all.

    I read,
    and absorb,
    and transform with every post.

    I’m gladly off of the throne, and sitting obediently at feet, and just in awe,
    silent,
    simple,
    awe.

    And I’m not a poet, I’m a prose guy. I write paragraphs indented, or in straightforward and even blocks. If I write poetry it’s “one fish two fish red fish blue fish”. But you guys, you women “guys”, are teaching me a new language. I’m being morphed into a tiny poet fledgling that’s being ooopsed out of the nest.

    And sometimes I freeze as I read.

    And doubt springs up everywhere, like a water balloon prancing on pins.
    Like an uninvited houseguest who outlives the welcome.

    “I can’t do that!”, my head screams. And that’s the way it needs doing!

    But faith is sister to hope.
    And hope whispers to me that God is still refining
    always refining the gold.

    You all make me “selah”
    pause
    ponder,
    and teach me to line up my words like bunny prints in the snow
    instead of squares of concrete on the sidewalk.

    I may never,
    be able
    to thank you
    enough.

    That’s my secret – well, it used to be.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      ummmm…is it not as manly to say that’s beautiful? because…that’s beautiful.

      thank you for sharing your secret! because…it’s beautiful :)

      • Craig

        I’m humbled. I’m learning, As you say on your blog, “a work in progress”

    • Kathy

      Wow, you definitely have a poet going on in there. “lined up like bunny prints in the snow”! I love it. And “Oopsed out of the nest”. Words like this let us know exactly what you are saying. And they fit in prose as well.

      I agree with Rebekah, it’s beautiful.

      I think maybe there is a style of writing somewhere between prose and poetry. I haven’t studied that, so I don’t know if it has a name.

      I hope we get to see your new blog. Maybe you will be willing to share the link?

  • http://www.zsfaithgrows.blogspot.com Connie

    I stood on the curb, looking in her eyes, as she said, “If you tell these false memories you’re having, bad things will happen will happen to your children.” I shook. I was scared anyway. We had met that day in my pastor’s office because I had had flashbacks of dark things in quiet hours in my childhood and I was terrified. This was the first time I was with her after the memories broke open and flowed. I had written a letter, thanking her for all the good things of my childhood, listing them one by one, blessing her, then wrote, but I’m having these memories… She sat in the office, denied anything bad had ever happened in my childhood, stood and left. I waited inside until she was gone. Shaking. My brother had those same memories. I headed out to my car, but she met me there, spoke those words.

    I would have caved there, stayed silent, said nothing, killed myself and taken my secrets with me, but God gave me something before that day. A key to the opening of my life, John 3:21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

    So I have told my story. I left my mom and moved away, it’s left me broken, but living in light and air, knowing that living honest before God is the only place to live. Daily, the Lord gives me strength,

    • Anonymous

      Oh how beautiful! That’s Jesus’ Spirit in you, you know! He is the one that speaks to our hearts like that, reminding us of true things. Wow…

  • http://www.allisonthemclendons@blogspot.com allison

    Ann,

    Every time you write is like healing balm straight from our Father. My earthly father suffers from a mental illness. His childhood was so broken. So broken that I don’t even know what happened. I know some secrets, but not exactly led to his break.

    I do know that the Lord has taught me so much through his “secrets” and is redeeming the broken places that only He can. I am not so scared of secrets anymore. The anxiety attacks are gone. His band aids are covering my heart and keeping in His Truth and taking out the lies.

    I have gone through every emotion. But, in my anger towards God, I found compassion and true forgiveness for my father. I love him and miss him. I pray for him and love him from afar. I love Him more than ever for all He has given me….good and bad.

    In Christ Alone,
    allison

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      “I do know that the Lord has taught me so much through his “secrets” and is redeeming the broken places that only He can. I am not so scared of secrets anymore. The anxiety attacks are gone. His band aids are covering my heart and keeping in His Truth and taking out the lies. ”

      I am so very thankful that God can redeem the broken!!! And the thought that God’s band aids are covering your heart keeping in His Truth and taking out the lies. That’s just beautiful. And even more than that, it’s true! I read John 8;44 yesterday and it talks about how all Satan does is lie. There is no truth in him! However, Hebrews 6…18? says that it’s impossible for God to lie! What resassurance! :)

      Thanks for sharing these beautiful words Allison!

  • http://wearethatfamily.com Kristen Welch

    I shared my secret of how my marriage was nearly destroyed by my husband’s fight against pornography. It was painful and healing to do so.

    My husband shares of his freedom and victory every chance he gets. Satan loves secrets. His evil empire is built upon convincing us to keep wrongs done against us or ones we’ve committed hidden away in the dark.

    But there’s something wholesome and healing about casting the light of Christ into the shadows of secrets. It gives us strength and power. It becomes a testimony.

    I urge you to find a confidant and shed some light on what you’re hiding. It’s really only then that true healing occurs.

    I love you, Ann, for a thousand reasons.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Amen Kristen!! If this were a Facebook comment I would totally ‘like’ it, but instead I’ll just say Amen and well put.

  • http://www.kellylangnersauer.com/ Kelly Langner Sauer

    a hundred-thirty comments, and what can i say that hasn’t been said, except i suddenly understand why you are afraid to go out, why you write the inside out and speak shy in person – because the real that was you was all wrong, even when it was true, and i hurt for you, believing that, thinking everybody would think that if they knew you inside.

    ann, i am so sorry.

  • http://meganwillome.com Megan Willome

    Thanks so much for sharing, Ann.
    I guess what is confusing for me, is that not all my secrets are mine to tell. There are other people to think of besides me.

  • Tracy

    I have been accused of being to open with my secrets or those of my family. But one thing I have discovered is that when on is open about their difficulties, suddenly it opens a door for others to share. Many times friends have told me they had never told anyone their story before because they were afraid. By being open to sharing you can open the door for others to minister to you as well as for you to minister to others. I can’t think of a difficulty I’ve ever shared that I didn’t find someone else with the same situation and most times I never knew.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Yes Tracy! Sometimes it just takes one person being brave and sharing their secret to help others see, ‘I am not alone.’

      So so true.

  • Anonymous

    M heart is full. How many love you. Ann. You are helping all of us, learn and grow even when it my cause a wound to open, it will bring healing~
    These 137 comments and still this is what I am taking down to my deepest soul’s places:
    “Tight lips can suffocate till life lies limp, and secrets can smother and leave you for dead. Mama was living proof that keeping secrets keeps you sick. Or maybe her and I were both the dying proof of it.”
    Jen, and Craig thank you for sharing your secrets so we are on our knees to the Father of Lights. Kelly Langer Sauer, I bless you~! Megan, you and Rebekah ,Kristin!
    He is LORD of all~ His grace is sufficient~

  • http://www.crumbsfromhistable.com christina

    Thank you for your courage and honesty, Ann. I am sorry for your pain and your mama’s.

    My safest place to tell secrets, even the ones that partly belong to others, is my private journal. I am striving to be real on my blog, and pride in the form of image management is the biggest obstacle to that.

    “The Velveteen Rabbit” comes to mind with your post. How much do I even want to be “real” if being real means “having most of your fur loved off”? And yet you become more real, more open to letting us love ALL of you, by letting us into your pain. I suspect you and your mother are more real to each other through your shared pain, too.

    Your year of “yes” has taken you way out of the comfort zone. I am praying for your upcoming Relevant service even though I won’t be able to attend. Grace and peace to you in Christ.

  • Jo

    I was the secret-keeper for my husband. Afraid the light would kill. It wasn’t the light, but the dark that killed us.

    Yet I live.

  • http://4him2u.com Connie

    Transparency is hard. I face that every time I write my column on breaking the chains of emotional abuse for Positively Feminine. How much do I share? I pray & write depending upon the Lord to guide my words.
    There was no physical or sexual abuse at my house, but verbal abuse was ongoing unless someone was visiting. But my mother caught up after they left.
    As a child, every time I learned a new skill, it was added to my list of chores. (None were ever taken away.) So I too was cooking for my family at age 9- with my mother still at home.
    It took years to determine that my mother had more than one personality disorder. Typically, one with a personality disorder focuses on one person. Lucky me!
    It took me over 50 years to understand & forgive her; & my father for being passive & not protecting us.
    Bottom line: God chose my mother & father- not for their parenting skills- for their DNA. That combination gave me the traits, skills, talents I needed to carry out His will.
    Looking back, I now realize that He provided others to be role models throughout my childhood & teens.

    One of my sisters copes through denial. She’d be very angry, if she ran across my column. Yet, God wants me to write it. Therefore, I depend upon Him to keep her away- at least until she’s ready to deal with the abuse.

    Once again in November, I will reveal the real me in order to help other women heal & break the chains that bind them & bring them sorrow.

    One of the best things I ever did was take off the multi-layered masks… it didn’t hurt as bad as I thought it would. (Truly, God gives us only as much as we can handle.)
    This gramma is content & filled with His joy. I broke the chains & am now watching my son raise his children with understanding & gentleness. They behave not out of fear, but because they’ve been lovingly taught.

    Leave your comfort zones ladies, just one step to start. In time, you’ll not regret it.

    • http://4him2u.com Connie G

      Just notices that there are 2 Connie’s. I’m Connie G.

  • http://snails-puppydogtails.blogspot.com/ jeana

    I have been wondering about this for quite some time. I understand that we all have had secrets, but I just haven’t been sure what to do with mine. I know for sure that I gave them to God and He renewed me. I have a new heart and a life being molded by Him. Then this week, I have been thinking and reading different things just like what you wrote.

    I am encouraged by your words and the others’ comments here. I am saddened by the hurt in so many lives, but encouraged we are all in this together.

    So, I sit here pondering my secrets and what God want s me to do with them. I really simply don’t want to hurt or disappoint anyone in my family. Then I struggle wondering if it’s my pride.

    I do know that I have been forgiven, and that I can even be free from secrecy, so I am praying about the next step to take in this. Thank you for your honesty and compassion to those hurting.

  • Lisa H

    God Thank You for using Ann to speak so clearly to me and also giving you the opportunity to use a 2×4 against my head!!! You do that so often to me so I can hear you!

    Ann thank you! I am currently working on letting go of my ‘secrets’. My hurts from growing up, my hurts from adulthood. I have issues with trust and abandonment. I have issues facing my emotions because I have had them tucked safely away inside my heart for about 25-30 years now. It took me 6 months to get ‘safe’ and ‘comfortable’ with my psychologist and she just told me last week she is moving to Alaska! I get 7 more sessions before she leaves. God is turning up the heat on me to get down to the hard work at hand. Its time to face these feelings head on without hesitation. I panicked, I ran away from reality for a couple of days and had a “Come to Jesus” meeting this weekend. Me and God out in his creation. It was awesome, it hurt, it was fulfilling. I’m ready to work now. I am scared to death to face these feelings that I locked away so many years ago. I do NOT want another counselor. I do NOT want it to take another 6 months to get comfortable. I WANT to be done with this. I want to be OK with all this inside of me. I want to forget all of it but I know that will not happen. I NEED to come to accept what my life was and is now because of it. Thats hard and its sad and its scary.

    You have no idea how many 2×4’s God has been using against the side of my head the past few weeks so I would listen. He is no longer nudging me down the path. He is pushing me and I am scared to death of it. So pray I will give into the pushing so its no longer a struggle between me and God.

    I need to face the secrets, the emotions, the hurts and all the other stuff. And I need take care of my kids, work, take care of the house all at the same time. Pray for determination, for endurance, for courage, for peace because I feel like I have none of that right now……….

    Lisa

  • Christena

    Ann,
    You are so brave. Thank you.

  • PJ

    I am not going to say whether I feel secrets are necessarily bad, but your situation has similarities to mine, in that my mother had a breakdown when I was 12 and my younger sister was 10, and we were made to feel so ashamed because my father didn’t want us to talk about it to anyone. She continued to have mental trouble for the rest of her life. Luckily we has a 16 year old sister who was the one who took over the household responsibilities. I cannot imagine how you had to be a grown-up at only age 9.

    Mental illness should not be considered so awful that children develop shame about their mother. Even if we had been told it would help protect our mother’s privacy by not talking about it, it would have helped if our father had talked to us about our mother in an understanding way, instead of telling us she was ‘strange”. He would talk at length about her and her family history and her problems when we drove in the car on a longer trip, and it was just awful.

    My younger sister has had anxiety and depression for many years, and I am sure it had its roots in our childhood. SHE is secretive about it. It just goes on and on.

  • http://naturereadingroom.blogspot.com/ Donna

    I grew up in a family of secrets too. My mom went away to a hospital not nearby, not in the city. My dad was the pastor…shh! Lots of other things we had to whisper…I grew up with depression myself…though I had no idea what was wrong with me. A few years ago I began to understand and slowly decided I would not hide it anymore. That hiding it all was most of the problem. I still deal with some depression, but I DEAL with it and move on…no longer condemned by “what they might think”. I’m learning still.

    Thank you so much for sharing your heart Ann.

  • http://www.findmeinseptember.org erin beth

    Well now. Isn’t this quite a divine moment, here? This is my first time on your blog. I’ve been working on mine for several hours and just started writing my story with all its shadows. I am a week or so away from cracking a few family secrets of my own.

    I am looking forward to reading more. (and writing more).

    Thank you for this.

  • http://www.momof6blessings.blogspot.com Teena

    Ann, over and over you touch me deep. I have shared before my secret/prayer requests. There is such a fine line for ME …. I want so to be real but do not want to cause disrespect or dishonor to the one/ones that involve my secrets. Does that make sense?

    I always always go back to….. the only way I can walk this path, journey…. is to bring HIM glory and honor. I may not understand… and lots of times I do not but HE does and He has me in the palm of His hands. My dh dances w/ the bottle more than w/ me. The addictions try to consume us… and steal our joy. daily… but it is when I press in…. that HE carries me.

    secrets.

    Thank you, Ann. Thank you for being REAL. For LOVING REAL….

    I love you,
    Teena

  • http://victoryrd.blogspot.com/ denise @ victory rd.

    i come from a long line of secret keepers. a long line of wounded people.
    my earthly father is paranoid schizophrenic. he has never told his secrets. his face wears shame, i long for freedom for him. i look forward to the day satan and his brood will be humbled before him, they will say they have lied, that God has loved him (Rev 3).
    i’ve had 7 dads, my mother is has secrets, wounds. i long for freedom for her.
    because of Christ i am not able to be a secret keeper, he will not let me live in the dark. one step at a time, one truth in place of lie at a time, he has brought me out into His glorious light.

    thank you for sharing your story, which is really His story of redemption. may God continue to be glorified in and through you.

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      amen denise! i totally agree that because of Christ in us we are unable to be secret keepers because He won’t let us live in the dark! that’s not where He is! and if we want to walk with Him, we have to step into the light.

  • http://www.redeemingthedays.blogspot.com Elise

    I’ve worn a lot of self-applied scarlet letters… names. Among them, LIAR was the last to go.

    God had to rip that one out by the ugly, tangled roots that wrapped themselves around the deepest parts of my heart.

    Trust. Could I, would I trust Him?

    In an untrustworthy world? Were I had been so wounded? Were I wounded, even killed?

    Yes, killed.

    He met me there. In the dominion of darkness, where the father of lies had comfortably made his secret, shameful, home.

    He told me if I trusted in Him I would never be put to shame.

    He told me that if I feared HIM, instead of my past, present, future… that He would confide in me. The Truth, THE King, would confide in ME.

    And He knew all my secrets.

    The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.
    ~Psalm 25:14

    Nearly six years later here I am, FREE. Who the Son sets free is free indeed!

    And He has given me many stories to tell along the way… and these stories are all beautifully true!

    He gives beauty for ashes!

    Love to you lovely Ann! Thank you for your bravery that encourages so many to be brave in turn!

    • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

      Thank you for that verse Elise! How amazing to know that the LORD confides in those who fear Him.

      I’m so glad that’s able to redeem and ‘make beautiful’ anything.

      ANYTHING! :)

      Thanks for sharing!

  • http://holycamp09.wordpress.com/ Deborah

    Beautiful…raw…truth. I brought so many secrets to my marriage bed that even after all these years are still there. I’ve been thinking about them lately and while I’ve shared them before, he didn’t really understand what hurt does to a child and it never goes away. I forget a lot, but I remember every hurt from that time and it colors today. Thank you for being brave and sharing secrets. It en…incourages me.

  • Joy

    Anne, I pray a blessing for you. Transparency always comes with a cost, sometimes deep emotional cost. I wish for you strength, and peace…rest, stillness.
    I have secrets. A little girl with curls, a year and a half, big men pushing her out of the way, carrying mom off. Silence, hunger, three days of oatmeal and peanut butter sandwhiches, tumbling in silence into bed in the dark, but the worst….was not knowing what my dad would do, and somehow knowing that if he came in and the worst happened, I would loose my mind. I remember.
    So much pain. So deep I can’t feel it. But your words strip off some of the veneer. The little girl is still inside. She is somewhere. She won’t come out, but she stirs at your words, and long frozen tears start melting and trickling down my cheek.
    Its a good hurt Anne, its a good hurt.
    Love you and hold you tight.
    Joy

    • Emily

      Joy–I am praying the same for you–strength, peace…rest, stillness. And healing. Oh, the hope of our redemption–heaven. May he lead you tenderly as you step heavenward to meet your Abba Father, who gives good gifts and works for your good in the midst of this broken, broken world. May you know His tender touch this night.

      • http://reb2911.blogspot.com Rebekah

        Amen Emily.

  • Cecile

    I also had a mentally ill mother (paranoid schitzophrenia or PPD) growing up and kept secrets. Figuring it all out… the truth about her and the illness’ effect on me and my brother and sister took a long time.

    Then I became a mother, and like you’ve mentioned in past posts, I wondered how God could trust me with these precious babies, His own? What am I doing trying to be a mother, I ask myself all four times.

    Kathy’s words were powerful, too: “…so they can heal the places I miss. Because I will miss things, and they will have hurts…”

    This is what I’m struggling with. My stomach physically aches at the mere thought of hurting them, which I know I already have when I catch traces of my anger lashing them. When I don’t stop myself from saying the hurtful things my mother lashed out at me, and my fears surface everytime… that they are enduring even a tiny snippet of what I faced as a child.

    Then I prayed for mentors. And God keeps sending them to me. Thank you for sharing your experience. Thank you for finding the holiness in it all, big and small.

  • Katie R

    Thank you for sharing your story! I have learned to share my heart and the secrets it holds the last several years. It has been such a change and growing experience that God has used to change me.

  • J

    It is amazing how you can hate someone so much that you kind of love. I almost hate myself some, because I see tinges of my mother there. I can never have children, because I could never put anyone through the chance of getting what my childhood was like. The thing is, they wouldn’t believe me if I tried to explain how they hurt me. They think they are fine, but they are not. There is no getting that across, no talking it out. But that is the secret and the truth. How do you work through that? Does God ever send love? I haven’t experienced healing and I don’t know how I can. It is not as if I don’t want to, but it is not there. I feel bad for hating, but I can’t lie and say it isn’t so. How do you not hate? I don’t know. With your whole soul just wrecked, and every emotion so raw…. There are moments when things feel better, but there is never a time when a memory doesn’t cut through my soul to the deepest part. I just feel so much. Always.

    • http://www.asfaithgrows.blogspot.com Connie

      God does send His love. Praying for you.

    • Kathy

      Love to you, J. Every one of us is broken. Our Father God is the healer, and He loves you more than you can know, more than any of us understand. Healing does take time, sometimes more time than we would like. I pray that you can find someone who you can talk to so you can begin to heal. You are loved. With an Everlasting love, like in Jeremiah 31.3.

      • http://joy_tuggy@sil.org JOY

        J, have you ever heard of the book The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists–Coping with the One-Way Relationship in Work, Love, and Family by Eleanor D Payson?

        She offers lots of insights to why the other person is behaving like they are and what you can do to cope and survive and get well emotionally, even if the person who wounded you is now dead. She is addressing in particular relating to people that have Narcisstic Personality Disorder (NPD).

  • http://www.whateverhesays.blogspot.com Belinda Burston

    Words fail me. Such powerful writing and such truth. Speaking out robs the dark of its power. It is so important. So freeing.

  • Emily

    Oh, this post… It strikes deep, and yet leaves me turned around and directionless. For I never knew secrets as a child; my mother grew up an alcoholic’s daughter, and she was determined NOT to keep secrets. If anything, compulsive and effusive un-secreting is what I learned. And then I married someone with pain in his past, with huge memory gaps, as some have spoken of, who HAS NOT come to terms with things. He bounced around between families so much that many years, he cannot remember which months were spent where. After 10 years, I am just starting to understand the depth of those silent places, and my inability to know them. It is hard. Hard (coming from that place of compulsory non-secret-keeping) to feel that he is hiding something from me. And yet I have come to understand that it is not intentional; he just has been incapable of going there himself, and the places are so tender that revisiting them feels like my judgment of him. And so I whisper to the Father who knows all, and learn to love…

  • Marygems

    Im grateful, so grateful for this post because tomorrow I have an appointment with my beloved spiritual director and beloved friend, and I am encouraged to ‘tell’ the truth about what is in my heart. May I borrow words from Anne B.? She says:I’m learning to tell secrets to a few trusted friends and spiritual guides. It does help so much to release the pain and breathe it out and find that I am still loved, still wanted.

    God Bless Anne B and Anne V: I believe that the truth sets us free, so someone ha got to ‘hear’ our secrets, for us to be set free from such painful pasts.It’s good when we tell God, but also important to share with a trusted person who can hug us, pray with us, nurture us back to wholeness. Then, by the help WE receive, we will help others. There are so many of us hurting- we need to be ‘set free’ to be able to set other capitives free. Love this post so very much Anne V: thankyou for sharing- so very tender and stunningly expressed: THANKYOU!

  • http://gitzengirl.blogspot.com gitz

    I just had a long conversation tonight with a good friend about our upbringings. The good and the bad and the ugly. Even in the best of homes, even in the loved, there is darkness and there are secrets. And knowing we are not alone in them, even as adults long past the days of hurts, is essential.

    It allows us to be well now. I don’t think we can decide who we want to be, in what we want to be the same and different, unless we acknowledge what was.

    What was creates what is in many ways. Thank you for letting us into your world. And for loving us in ours.

    Also, I want to comment to you almost every day how grateful I am for you. Not just your words, but the views you give to me. I grew up on a farm and miss seeing the green, miss smelling the air, miss walking barefoot in the grass. My confine to the condo is a little less hard because I get to see the glimpses of a world I love through your photos. Thank you for that. It means the world.

  • http://www.asfaithgrows.blogspot.com Connie

    Oh, Ann, I’ve come back a couple times since my last comment to ask you to remove it, because the truth in black on white screen, my soul laid bare, is uncomfortable and unhappy and I’ve felt, unsafe even for some readers. But as I’ve wrestled with this today, and have looked on, something firmed up within.

    ISN’T OUR GOD GLORIOUS, THAT HE COMES INTO THE DEEPEST, DARKEST CORNERS OF THIS EARTH AND BRINGS LIGHT AND LIFE AND FRESH AIR? ISN’T HE GRAND THAT HE CHOOSES THE MOST REJECTED AND THE MOST DEFILED, THE MOST TORMENTED AND HORRIFIED AND UTTERLY SHAMED AND BROKEN TO BE HIS VERY OWN, TO LOVE AND CARE FOR, TO CLEANSE, MEND, HEAL, WATCH OVER AND PROVIDE FOR. OH, ISN’T HE WONDERFUL? HOW GOOD IT IS TO BE ABLE TO SAY, “WE ARE YOUR PEOPLE AND YOU ARE OUR GOD!”

    “I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from Me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.”- Isaiah 43:11-12

    • http://nini58.blogspot.com Denie Heppner

      connie, i’d like your email address. reading all the comments to ann’s marvelous post, i was searching for something, and i think in your comment i may have found it. could you email me please? thanks, God bless us all.

  • http://bernicewood.wordpress.com Ramblings of a Woman

    Oh Ann, how painful, but how awesome for you to tell your secrets now! And your post is just confirming more and more something that is building my heart! Long story short, I just recently had a mental meltdown. Medical leave, no hospital, but hid away at home. Didn’t keep it a big secret, but still. The hard thing is this, the meltdown happened because I would not allow anybody to know how I was really feeling, how incompetent I felt at my job, at everything. I have had women tell me they are pround that I stood up and said something, but the thing is, it would have better if I had done it sooner. Now, I am not beating myself up, but the thing is~~ I bet there are a LOT of woemn who feel the way I felt, and they won’t tell their secret. I think I need to tell mine so that maybe I can encourage others to speak out BEFORE they meltdown!
    Thank you for being so open!
    Bernice
    http://bernicewood.wordpress.com/2010/10/07/how-to-finally-eat-the-elephant/

  • susan

    I read your post Ann – I read all the comments through tears and I can say is what a wonderful, beautiful, broken yet grace filled sisterhood we are. We all carry so much hurt – both our own hurt and that of others who have come before us and who will go after us. Layer upon layer of hurt and pain and so many sad little girls hiding inside smiling women. I rejoice that our Heavenly Father gathers up all us sad little girls to His heart and He listens to our stories – even though He knows them all already – and He pours healing balm into our broken souls and He loves us – oh how He loves us …

  • Debbie

    Hi,

    I read this post yesterday, and God was definitely speaking to me through it. Yesterday morning I shared a secret of mine with a small group of friends. I felt like I really should, but I was questioning afterward whether it was the right thing to do. I came home to read this and I felt God telling me that it was okay. I needed to share my secret with these friends. They needed to know, and I needed them to know. So thank you for writing this and for sharing your story.

  • Dilys

    Right now I am up against secrets that took place in boarding schools for Missionary Kids. I was an MK too and was always fairly open about how I thought the boarding school experience was awful, and should never happen to any kid,but now I am seeing that my ‘awful’ was nothing compared to what other kids faced in the boarding schools – sexual abuse, daily beatings to the point of being torture, public humiliations etc. When I first went away to boarding school, I was 6 years-old. We kids weren’t allowed to cry or show any signs of homsickness in the dorm because according to the dormparents our parents were serving God and we had to be happy for them and not cause trouble. We were expected to be silent and tell nothing that would bother our parents. The resulting idea that came to me was that MKs were the dirt of the Kingdom, we were worth nothing, we could be sent off, mistreated, it didn’t matter. The ethos of the mission field created a culture of silence and cover up. Now, the hideous things that were done to MKs in the name of God are being revealed. It’s enough to make you sick to your stomach when you read the stories. And it would seem that the missions and the churches still don’t care about us who were sacrificed in the name of spreading the Gospel.

    • Wendy

      Dilys, Please know that you are not alone. Please know that in the Name of God is not the same as By God. He loves you. He sees your hurt. He wants to make you and all the hurting MKs whole. It’s hard to see his hand in such things, but you can trust Him. Missions and the church may still not seem to care but the church is made up of individuals and there are many who do care, who are fighting for change, who know your hurt and sacrifice and want to make it better for a future generation.
      I am sorry for your hurt and I am praying for you to find the peace that only He can offer you.

    • Anonymous

      I am so sorry this happened to you and to them. I hurt for you all. And I am praying for you and them.

    • ee

      i, too, was laid on the altar as a child for the sake of the Gospel. i suffered. i still do. but praise the Lord! my parents were able to preach the Gospel to “the lost.”

      i’m lost now. and i don’t know if i’ll ever find my way home.
      dilys, you are not alone.

      • http://joy_tuggy@sil.org JOY

        Oh ee, I was so sorry to read this. I pray you WILL find your way Home. You have a loving Father waiting there for you. I’ll be on the look-out for you in Heaven myself! I invite you to join me for ‘coffee on my deck’ once we get there! (Anothr MK)

  • http://www.myloveletter2god.blogspot.com Stephanie

    For me there was a time to keep silent, and then a time to tell. I think we all have to follow our own hearts on this. The silence ate away at me for years, but when I told I felt less than liberated. When I told things got harder and harder, for a season. For a season I was asked to deal with, to face the pain I had burried for so many years. For a season, it was almost as if I had to go back and relive everything that happened. For a season. But then the clouds cleared, and the sun began to shine, and God began to show me who I was as a whole person. I began todiscover that the deep secrets were a part of me that was to be embraced, a part of me that makes me who I am. I began to love the little girl that I hated and had lost so long ago. I began to reconnect on the inside so that I could connect on the outside.

    Is telling secrets hard, yes. Might it be devastating for a season, yes. But is it worth it, YES! Will your Savior carry you through, YES, each and every step of the way. And was going to a Christian Counselor and trusting her one of the best and most difficult moves I ever made, yes :)

    • Kathy

      This is very encouraging. Thank you!

  • http://www.myloveletter2god.blogspot.com Stephanie

    And Ann, my goodness you are one radiant daughter of Christ! Blessings upon blessings to you and yours!

  • DeDe

    Thank you so very much for sharing!! You have no idea how even the timing of this is so significant right now. Hugs and gratitude to you dear Ann

  • http://rebmarose.blogspot.com Amber

    I just began seeing a Christian counselor yesterday. This post could not have been more well timed. Your words encouraged me that what I’m doing is good and healthy. I believe it’s worth telling our secrets. Thank you for being you, sweet Ann, and sharing your “skin on a screen.” You are precious.

  • http://www.meltonsmoments.blogspot.com Tonya

    Reading your words cut to my soul. Inside i carry a secret that I know is slowly pulling me down and probably harming my health. Even though I go through my day trying to cling to God, my Father and Friend that I know KNOWS my secret and longs to help me through my struggle. I get up everyday vowing to let go and let God telling myself this is the day I will be strong…I have some good days but more bad ones it seems which make me feel like a failure as I once again put a fake smile on my face as I try once more to live a (normal) life and pray God lets me see myself as he does…and angry that instead of making it to the the top and conquering this mountain I continually get half way up only to fall back down to the bottom again. I know I am blessed with his love and forgiveness and with a wonderful family but yet I struggle with feeling like I may disappear or wondering what is it I am contributing to this world and trying to figure out what it is God has for me to do hear on this earth while at the same time feeling horrible. Because i know I should feel full with the blessing of my family and the blessing that he allows me to stay home and be a wife and mother. That is what I always dreamed of so…..why don’t i feel fulfilled??? I have forever struggled with insecurity and lack of self worth and these are my bad days. The good days I wake thanking God for the day he has made and know I am loved unconditionally by him and am so thankful. I love God my family and my friends like crazy. So why then can’t I conquer this beast??? Why then can’t I allow God to help. I am thinking of getting a christian counselor but, I think I am too afraid to face the pain of my past and the pain and insecurity it still causes me today??? After reading your story I am ready! Maybe I will start by sharing my secret here…(I struggle with….bulimia) and no know but me and God and now whoever is reading this and as I am writing this the tears are falling as i think to myself i should not tell!!! Delete this NOW… I am NOT going to delete and I am going to be strong and praying that i will not be judged even though I am sure I might be or maybe even someone might relate. I feel more free already. Thank you for being to open and sharing and for giving me the freedom the finally feel safe to tell my secret.

    • Faran Hearyman

      Tonya,

      Sweet sister in Christ – it is for freedom that Christ has set you free! You are brave and are already participating in your own healing by this post. I don’t know you or know this particular struggle, but girl, I have been prisoner to other sins. So proud of you for this BIG step! Philippians 1:6 – He is faithful!

      Prayers and ((hugs)) coming your way.

    • Anonymous

      Good work! You are doing good emotional work! I am praying for you, Tonya.

    • http://www.myloveletter2god.blogspot.com Stephanie

      Tonya,
      You already took a HUGE step just by posting this! A christian counselor is an awesome idea, you were never meant to walk these kinds of journeys alone, and although we know as daughters of Christ that we are NEVER alone, having the physcial presence of another to walk with us is so encouraging. Don’t stop, keep pressing forward. Satan would have you stay in your bondage, and I am sure he is planting all sorts of fears and doubts in your mind. But let Jesus quiet your spirit, and move into the light! Blessings and praying for you!!!
      Stephanie

    • elaina

      I am soooo glad you did not delete! You are God’s child and you can rest in the truth that He knows you through and through and LOVES you. LOVES YOU.

      • Dawehs

        Tonya, as I read your comment I am struck with the thought: THERE IS THEREFORE NOW NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE WHO ARE IN CHRIST JESUS. Do NOT let the Enemy of your soul condemn you for sharing. Do not accept condemnation, in any form, not even in the form of shame.

        Bless you. It is beautiful. YOU are beautiful.

  • http://sweetwaterbluesky.blogspot.com Melissa Campbell

    Dear Ann,

    How beautiful & heart-retching–the telling of your story. How beautiful–you. You have a way with words, and a perspective on life that touches the deepest places of brokenness in me–like no one else can, accept my Redeemer. His sweet fragrance is all over you and the words you write. This is why so many connect. Please, don’t stop until He tells you!

    To know and see God, and to make Him known, in both the joyful and painful, unbearable moments of life, to overcome fear and all the secrets and shame, to learn to love and be loved in the midst of it all—this is what He has promised to help us do.

    Your story, your words, your impact on this reader is truly of the Holy. Thank you a million times over. Love and hugs to you, precious woman of God.

  • C

    Ann, I have been sitting here just blown away. Secrets. I have been blogging my secrets since May. My own bit of therapy. I still find to be the strangest thing I have ever done. But I also felt lead to do this. Even though I don’t attach my name, and I may be the only one who ever reads this. I don’t blog everyday, because some secrets take a lot out of me but each time I feel little weight lifted. But I am still keeping secrets and you are right you don’t feel fully alive with secrets. We all have stories and secrets. I also God uses our stories. So maybe I’ll take another little step.

    http://4disposablewomen.blogspot.com/

  • http://lessonsthrulife.com Anne

    Secrets…..they do hurt and they do hold you back. My secrets are in my marriage and they suffocate me at times. Family knows only half of it… I don’t dare tell them the other half for fear that they would turn their backs on him. My worst fear is that he will not go to heaven…that he isn’t saved… so I press on… It is hard to press on when the trust is gone but I look to the Lord for my strength and pray that He will guide and direct me. Your post touched me so deeply and even made me cry. I can’t imagine as a child at 9 having to go through something like that. Our Lord has a plan and a purpose and I hold onto that promise.

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  • http://housemefromthewind1.blogspot.com/ Maryellen

    I don’t do well with secrets at all. I came from a place where that is all that was known from one generation to the next, one bottle, one bar, one heart ache at a time…
    and I told. I told my friends, my teachers, my pastors…I told. And I was very unpopular at home for it all. I was the traitor in the camp.
    The gift is in the fact that things got so bad, the elephant in the middle of the room grew too big to hide anyway. So the secrets that the neighbors already knew, were now too alive to hide back in the closet of thier souls.
    I hate some of what happened to me as a kid…but I am free…and that is the heritage I get to pass on to our children. The harshest of mercies sent me to the Cross. Glory.
    Thanks Ann, simple with out an “e”. You make me more poetic and I had forgotten that part of me. xoxo

  • Emily W.

    I just realize once again that my life is not that bad. I have 6 siblings and a mom and a dad. I don’t have to do my own laundry or cook my own meals….. and I don’t have to hide things about my family!!! Oh, thank you for shareing your hurt!!! Thank you!!! You have helped me realize that God has blessed me so much!!!
    God bless you more & more!!!!
    In Christ.
    -Emily

    • Emily W.

      *That should be “sharing” NOT “shareing”!!! :S my bad. -ew.

  • http://mzzterryz.blogspot.com terry

    touched my heart, in very real places. but then you do that quite often sister. bless you.

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  • Teresa

    Thanks to all for sharing, and to you, Ann, for the blogpost. I am so grateful that God has given me a friend to share my secrets with. No public place, just our quiet kitchen tables over cups of tea. It would be very hurtful to special people in my life to “lay it all out”, so for now I cherish this particular friendship. She and I know how to pray for one another as no one else does. We both desire to be about the business of bringing glory to our Lord, and so try our best to run advice/comments/prayers through the sieve of God’s word. to sprinkle grace all around, to know we are not alone…I do think that God will use this friendship and my experience somewhere down the road. Just not sure where or when. In the meantime, His grace is proving more than sufficient. He knows best.

  • Judy

    Oh Ann I grew up having to keep secrets! What a burden to place on a child. But praise God, He is the great Healer!! Thank you for your wonderful blog.

  • http://www.momof6blessings.blogspot.com Teena

    wow coming back to read the comments…. to say more…

    addictions live in our home… and like so many said about the suffering they went through …. I fear for my children. I never ever share this on MY blog.

    I keep back spacing….

    most share about PAST secrets…. but what if they are PRESENT…. EVERY DAY….

    ugh.

    Thank you, Ann. I know you love me…. Ann…. for years now we have been “cyber” friends. I pray one day this side of heaven we will meet face to face.

    Hugs,

  • http://lindsey-writes.com Lindsey

    I have battled this personally—what to share, what to keep….
    I’ve suffered through three years of debilitating depression and anytime I talk about it there are certain members of my family who are made very uncomfortable. Yet, I feel as if I must HELP someone out there, and keeping silent—suffering in silence—helps no one.

  • Bekah

    I keep finding myself returning to this blog post and reading it over and over and over again. So many things just hit my heart in a way that I don’t really even know how to put into words. Each time I read this post new things stick out to me.

    Tonight, it was this phrase, “When ink lays the secrets bare, God unveils a bit of Himself in words because that is who He is, Word and Truth.”

    My heart longs to be able to put words right now to what it is feeling, but the words just haven’t come. In any case, please know that I continue to find encouragement and hope in this blog post.

  • Becky

    Ann,
    Wow! Thank you for sharing. I grew up in a home with secrets and it followed me into my marriage and in raising a family. Eventually, I knew I needed help and through the help of a Christian counselor was able to become free. And how good that freedom feels! I think the most awesome thing God did through my journey though was giving my mother freedom! She lived all her life scared to tell her own children the truth. As God helped me gently confront her, the floodgates opened and she has now shared her life with us! It explains so much that would have eliminated deep hurt but more importantly I believe she is finally truly living. So yes, Satan was able to affect many generations through the darkness of secrets, but God is the victor and gave true freedom so the secrets stop here!!! By the way, even now I am surprised by all the comments which tells me I still carry the mentality of a secret carrier – “I’m the only one going through this” It’s an ongoing journey I guess.

  • christina

    Secrets,…. sounds so special, yet they are not. Much like sin that is enticing, tantalizing, glossy on the surface.. yet it quickly traps me in, pulls me down into the much, yuck and abyss.
    I agree with those who do not necessarily advocate a public revealing of secrets, but rather the letting go in front of God. He knows already, just like we Mammas already know when our child has done something – even before the child tells.
    Mary DeMuth has written a wonderful book about secrets, and it is well worth reading for anyone who has things they are keeping hidden, and for those who live with someone who is keeping something hidden. It is called Thin Places and is amazing.
    My prayers are with each commenter who is hurting, feeling trapped by the secrets – may you find courage to release the lock on your heart and let it out.
    In His Grip
    Christina

  • http://www.harnsbergerherd7.blogspot.com Tab Harnsberger

    so. very. beautiful.

  • http://www.this-abundant-life.com Kara Haushalter

    I have been following your blog and I LOVE your honesty!!!! After 10 years of marriage and far too many burdens/ secrets placed on us and picked up by us, we are learning to be real and have no secrets. They nearly lead to the destruction of our marriage. By nature I am a transparent person but life caused me to be just “fine” and after too many years of lies and burdens, I crumbled, I sinned, I sat in the dark night of my soul…a place I pray to never return. Living in truth has broken relationships with those who find security in the secrets they expected us to keep but I believe that our souls are free, my husband is free of shame, of hurt, of the terrible things that happened to him. I am free of sin, of expectations, of trying to be perfect ….we are free to be us…to be who God created us to be. I put it all out on the table, thus letting God work with it!
    I love this post and all the truth that it speaks. I love that when we let out the secrets, we embrace the Author of our days!

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  • http://insertgracehere.com Rena

    Beautiful, powerful post! I’ve read some of the comments but time won’t all me to read all of them.

    I encourage my children to always, always, always tell the truth. Although I cannot comprehend the depth of what many of you have gone through, I’ve found in my own life that bringing the truth to light gives God something to work with. “HE” can handle the truth. He can work with the truth. It’s when we keep things in that we often live a lie and leave nothing for Him to work with. I won’t pretend to understand what it must be like to deal with such dark secrets. However, I’ve had my share of battles and hurts. I’ve made my share of mistakes. And without fail, freedom has been found in telling. First our Lord. Then a confidant. He is surely faithful to provide that someone in whom we can trust. And sometimes–not always–sometimes, openly, publicly, for others to learn and heal.

    Thank you, Ann, for sharing your story, your hurts, your deep, dark secrets. May God bring great healing to a multitude of readers through it.

    Sisters in Christ,
    Rena

  • http://www.this-abundant-life.com Kara Haushalter

    I believe that God gives wisdom to those who share. Ann, God gave you wisdom and words to say! And I am so glad you did. Such a beautiful work of beauty!!!! He may not ask us all to bear everything to everyone. Some are called to share in big forums, some of us are called to bless others one on one with the story of our lives. Regardless, wisdom is essential, don’t share because you are still living behind a label or a “scarlet letter”…share because you are covered in grace and redemption that shines. This is all for God’s glory! We are sons and daughters of the most High King….royalty was never meant to carry burdens!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve followed your blog on and off for a few years now. God has definitely used you to minister to me and bless my heart many times, but this post has really been tugging at my heart. Some stories aren’t ours to share. She secrets you’ve shared are more about your dad and mom than they are about you. Sure, you were impacted by what happened to them, but this doesn’t make it right to share their story in a public forum. I know this wasn’t your intention, but it leaves a window of opportunity for others to think less of them and, therefore, borders dishonor and disrespect. Sin is hard enough to deal with between ourself and God. When someone broadcasts our sin(s) to the public, it can make it much harder. Why do people have to pick scabs off of wounds and prevent them from healing? Forgiveness is all that is needed to heal.

  • http://nonniesblessings.blogspot.com nonnie

    Ann,
    I am deeply moved by your post. I rejoice in the fact that you have Christ, and can know healing. I pray this will be cleansing for you and God will be glorified as you help others. You are such an inspiration to me! Your words are so beautifully arranged and have healing in them.
    I don’t think a family exists that doesn’t have some dysfunction and pain inflicted upon some part of the family. We are human. We are influenced by the evil one. Then God pours out His grace and mercy.
    Thank you for your heart. You are loved through the screen!
    Please keep writing, as God has given you a special gift~touching others with your words inspired from Him.
    Blessings,
    nonnie

  • Angel

    “It is true: I am terrified to be real. But I am far more afraid to be false. Which would mean I cease to be.”

    As I read this post, and visited and revisited the growing number of comments and replies, I found myself wanting to say something too. I’m 23 now, and have struggled with secrets and lies for most of my life. Truth came to me at an early age (14 years old), and the Gospel is continuing to shed light on the dark places of my heart. In the beginning I found myself confessing the truth to many people. I didn’t trust my family, and still don’t feel safe around them.

    I lied to be loved. I used my past to experience sympathy and compassion. I cried, because I didn’t know how to stop. I cried, because all the secrets and lies piled up so high- so high I thought I’d ruined all my chances to truly be seen and loved. Shame filled my heart.

    Through healthy relationships, broken unhealthy relationships, prayer, and real compassion poured out to me through Jesus Christ I am learning to love the truth. I am learning to love the little girl, the teenage girl, the growing adult woman that is me. The thought of having friends, and the thought of one day being a wife scared/scares me so much. I thought (and still do think sometimes) that I will have to be honest about who I am if to no one else, to Jesus. With others, who I am will spill out despite my best efforts anyway.

    I can no longer keep myself a secret. I see the Light shining on the dark places, revealing a still small voice- locked under different trap doors in my heart. Once I’ve began sharing my secrets, I realize there’s ever more my heart has managed to store up. And I am thankful the Spirit shows us patiently and gently, with the ever reminder of Christ’s redemption. The redemption that brings me to the Father, and frees me from guilt and shame. The redemption that pushes me further, because sin no longer has a grip on me.

    These are the thoughts I have as I think about secrets, secrets in my own heart, secrets that have pained me to keep, and that I have gone through all pains to keep. I hope I have an ever growing knowledge of grace and faith to reach out for the hand of Christ, that leads me through the darkness. So that I don’t have to be so afraid of Jesus, and His call to love others, His call to regard other’s interests as well as our own. So that I don’t have to be afraid of the work of the Gospel that reveals my need for a Savior.

  • Jen

    I haven’t read all the comments yet….my heart goes out to you!

    As a conservative Christian woman, I am taught constantly the verse about the wife who tears down her home with her words—it’s late and I can’t find the ref. right now). Those of us who share our hearts and burdens with others are chastened with the sin of gossip and if our homes, families, and lives fall apart…it is our fault.
    May God bring into each of our lives other people who can be trusted with our hearts, that He would give us the wisdom to know which people they are.
    And to find release in the arms of our dear Saviour, Jesus Christ before we release our hearts to another mortal like ourselves!

  • http://www.savinggracenwa.org Becky Shaffer

    Secrets hold an amazing amount of power….when they are kept. I was in my late 30’s before I finally spoke a childhood secret out loud. I had an awesome counselor and his wife as well as my precious husband who reminded me to breathe through it all. I was asked about the secret when I was 13 years old and lied, thinking I was this mans only victim and that it was entirely my fault. However, when it all finally told someone….there were too many other victims to count. I lost most of the people in my family due to bitterness and hate for me speaking out….I didn’t shout it from the mountain top….most of the people in the small community have no idea what really happened. I did learn that when there is sin in the camp, God cannot send His blessing on the people. Speaking the secret removed the awesome power of the silence….and deep wounds began to heal for the multitude.

    When God restores you, He does so in such a way that suddenly you are walking in the light and you can’t recall how dark your life has been. ~ Bishop TD Jakes

    God’s grateful girl,
    Becky

  • http://dougspurling.blogspot.com/ Doug Spurling

    and Adam and his wife were naked and they were not ashamed. Nothing between my Maker and me = healing.

    Thanks Ann – His grace & peace be yours today and always.

  • http://musingsfromthegram.typepad.com/a_circle_of_three/ Cindie

    I could relate with your story…I had a brother who was 7 years older than I and was mentally ill …our home was a very scary place for me as a child. He was in and out of the mental hospital and I watched him almost kill my Dad one day. I was told not to say anything and so would be crying on the inside and have to put a happy face on the outside.
    Later on I was abused by my step father and also told to keep that to myself. I dared to share it as an adult to a friend who I trusted and her words to me: “I wouldn’t go and tell anyone else as they will only be able to look at you as an abused person.” This woman was a Christian and should have known better, but it just made me push it all back in.
    Long story short….finally I have been able to surrender it and use it all for His glory. I thank God every day that God’s grace covers me and that He loves me just as I am.

  • http://stephanieswalk.wordpress.com Stephanie Marchbanks

    Oh, Ann; Oh, Ann; Oh, Ann…

    My momma was in a mental institution, too, off and on for most of her adult life. As little girls, we visited her there, saw horrors. She came home once with her hair singed ragged on one side, because someone set fire to it while she was asleep. We had no dad in our home, either. Our grandparents raised us, because my parents divorced shortly before Mom’s first meltdown, when I was 2.

    Once, my little sister and I actually witnessed Mom dragged kicking and screaming from our house in a strait jacket, and tossed into the back of the little, white wagon. In the struggle, she lost a shoe that lay starkly on the curb as the wagon drove off. Mom’s best friend, called to the house to watch us until the hullabaloo was over, turned and looked at us. “Picked up your mom’s shoe,” she barked, frowning. And we were turned and marched unceremoniously back into the house. Not another word was said.

    My mom died in the mental institution years later, of breast cancer, at age 47. She weighed less than 90 pounds, and she looked at least that many years old.

    I give you these glimpses of sorrow to highlight the radical contrast of the now for me. I’m joyful. I’m healthy. I am free, and everything really is okay. I LEARNED some secrets, Ann, in learning to walk with Jesus, every day, just for the pleasure of it. That process changed me, healed me, and made me smile again. I want to shout to fractured individuals everywhere that there is hope. They can be okay, and they can smile again.

    And that’s a glorious, unbroken hallelujah!

    • http://www.savinggracenwa.org Becky Shaffer

      Bless you sweet girl!!! WE are all God’s girls!! Walking with Him daily, fingers woven together and hearts speaking in languages only love can understand!

      God’s grateful girl,
      Becky

      • http://stephanieswalk.wordpress.com Stephanie

        Oh, thank you, and amen. Amen.

  • Alysa

    Dear sweet Ann… you are so beautiful, and if only you could know how much you’ve touched me, how much you’ve helped me. Thank you for being so brave to tell us your secrets. May the Lord show you how much you are loved.

    I too have secrets, that I am just only learning to know myself. Perhaps not as dark and painful as some, but they have greatly affected my adult life, and I never knew why, until now.

    One amazing book that drastically helped me through this was “Hurt People Hurt People by Dr Sandra Wilson (http://www.amazon.com/HURT-PEOPLE-SANDRA-WILSON/dp/1572930160/ref=sr_1_cc_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1287284307&sr=1-2-catcorr) This helped me to begin to uncover where the wounds were, and why, and bring me to a place of healing. I can’t recommend it highly enough! If anyone reads the comments this far down, and is still struggling with their secrets, please, read this book.

    May the Lord bless each one of you, especially dear sweet Ann.

  • http://metropolitanmama.net Stephanie

    What a lovely post, Ann. You are a phenomenal storyteller.

  • http://breakingthrough.tumblr.com Jeremy Keegan

    This past week God opened my eyes to the power of sharing secrets. My wife and I have been receiving some counseling recently and were continuing to process some of that at home one evening late. She said, “I can’t go any further unless I tell you this.” And she went on to share the deepest, darkest scar that life had left upon her heart. I was angry, confused, surprised, but most of all convicted. Her secret was the very same as my own, and I had sworn to take it to the grave, never breathing a word of it. However everything had just changed in an instant. I thought about remaining silent, but could not bear the thought of leaving my wife hanging, bearing her pain alone. I shared my secret with her and we both sat there in awe of how God brings people together in unfathomably deeper ways than we could ever imagine. The one thing we both feared would drive us apart brought us even closer together.

    There is a chance that my wife could have shared that with me, and I would not have had a similar experience. I would still have embraced her all the more for caring about me enough to share something that significant.

    Ann said “our story is who we are, and if we deny it, we deny not only our own selves – we deny the very Author Who’s writing this redemptive epic.” So true.

  • http://liasophia.com/christiedesilva Christie DeSilva

    My husband of ten years was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in September of ’08 after a lifetime of perfect mental health. The stigma with schizophrenia, even in the church, is tough. We need to be open with each, not judge each other, but intervene and pray for each other. The body of Christ needs to surround people dealing with mental illness (and their families) with love and prayer and belief for healing. We need to rebuke Satan when he tells us lies through secular psychology that it only gets worse and there is no cure. We serve a God that raised the dead, healed the blind, and commended demons to remove themselves from people’s bodies and minds.

    My husband is 100% stable. He still takes medicine, but we firmly believe he will receive complete healing from the Lord, and when he hears clearly from God that he is healed, he will stop taking medication. Anyhow, we decided (against popular Christian opinion) to be completely transparent with the body of Christ. We requested prayer from EVERYONE. Our church body laid hands on my husband and our family and prayed healing over him every week, even on the weeks where he went to church and saw things that didn’t exist and sat crying in the front row in fear.

    People were scared at first. That’s an understatement. People were pretty freaked out. Is he safe? Is he still going to help in childrens ministry? Are his kids safe? Answers were yup, yup, and yup. But you know what happened? We ended up educating our congregation (even several congregations) of believers, the fear was replaced by tenderness and confidence, and my husband has received healing.

    People started coming out of the woodwork and telling their “secrets” because they were encouraged by our open-ness. We started hearing about mothers, brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends that struggled with serious mental illness for years, and no one told anyone because of shame and fear of judgment. It breaks my heart that for all of those years, the body of Christ could have been intervening in prayer for these people, for healing, for their minds to be bound to the mind of Christ, as we rebuked the devil in agreement.

    But judgment keeps people in silence. Were we judged? Yes. Did eventually it come around and help us and others? Absolutely. Mental Health can be treated now. There are good therapies and drugs. It can be managed, and with the Lord, it can be healed. Secrets no more.

  • http://solacegirl.blogspot.com Amy

    Wow…Ann. Thank you for sharing. My sister is bipolar. She has been diagnosed since she was 9 years old, and didn’t really find the help she needed for over 30 years. She still has deep hurts and loss in her life. I know that the LORD has protected her all of these years for a reason. I hold on to hope that one day she will finally be at peace with Jesus.

    Here is another thought that I have been wrestling with. It seems that mental illness is one of those last taboo topics that “The Church” doesn’t really want to touch. My hope and prayer is that as brothers and sisters in The Body we will love each other in such a way that we feel free to reveal for the healing to begin.

  • http://liasophia.com/christiedesilva Christie DeSilva

    AMEN AMY!!!!!!!! My husband was diagnosed with schizophrenia in September of ’08. People were freaked out in the church. They don’t talk about those things in church or in prayer groups, and if they did, it was in the paradigm of consequence for unrepented sin. Yes, that can be the case. I do believe anytime we are sick, we should always look at our lives and see if we are in sin. We should ask the Lord to search our hearts and deal with unbelief and disobedience. However, mental illness needs to lose it’s stigma. We live in a fallen creation. Mental illness happens like cancer happens. Oh, how after we were totally open, eventually everyone opened up and their hearts tendered. I think my husband is one of the most precious to them in our local body of believers now because they have prayed for him so fervently and he has been so forward with his struggles.

    He has sat in the front pew IN TERRIBLE fright, scared to death as he sees, hears, and thinks things that are not real. Our pastor would just stop, and a couple of hundred people (every person in church) gathered around us and prayed together, believing together for healing.

    It starts with a few brave souls, wililng to open up on struggleds, knowing they will endure some hardship because of their tranparency. God will work it all out for good. Oh how it broke my heart to have so many people in our church body open up about brothers, sisters, children that suffered TERRIBLY for years with mental illness and were hidden away.

    I asked, “Why don’t we know? Why aren’t we praying?” but some people are scared. They are scared of experiencing some of what our family experienced. They heard people talking behind the scenes…talking about how my husband probably shouldn’t be helping in ministry at church, how he’s probably dangerous to his kids (such a myth), how they’re not surprised because have you heard (you fill in the blank).

    You know another reason don’t share? To protect their kids. Unfortunately, I heard from the background that people were not going to allow their children to come over to our house to play with our kids anymore. That’s tough. It’s hard to watch my kids lose friends because of their parents fear. However, God works ALL of that out for good. If my children lost every one of their friends because of their obedience and faith in Christ,, I would choose and have them choose Christ every single time.

    It’s been a wonderful lesson for my children. Their friends come over now. Their parents hearts have been tendered and changed by God. My kids have such a soft heart towards mental illness. They don’t think of people as any more different than those with a broken leg. They just need healing. They’re sick. They’ve also watched God do amazing things. They’ve seen daddy have to ask mommy if something he is seeing is real, and they’ve heard mom say “no it’s not.” They’ve seen daddy be scared. They’ve seen mommy be scared, and most importantly, they’ve seen us pray at those moments. They’ve seen us speak scripture out loud. They’ve heard over and over and over that “I’ve been given a spirit of fear…but of power and of love and of a SOUND mind.” 2 Tim 1:7

    Continue to prayerful advocate for open-ness and prayer in the church. Be willing to be transparent and to be possibly be persecuted for being open in struggles and prayers.

    They other area that the church is “scared” to talk about domestic violence. God loves marriage reconcilitation and he changes hearts. I can’t wait for the day that a man can stand before his local gathered body of believers and say that he has struggled with violence towards his wife in the past and that God has delivered him from his sin and then have EVERYONE cheer and praise God. Finally, with drugs, we have a church that does that. People share their testimonies of their drug addictions and their deliverance and we celebrate God’s work, but for some reason, we don’t want to believe that God can really change an abusive spouse. I believe God changes people, bad people, people like David that are VERY BAD GUYS and then turns around and says “This is a man after my own heart.”

    Love you all my dear sisters in Christ!

  • http://liasophia.com/christiedesilva Christie DeSilva

    Uff da…I didn’t edit that and there are a TON of typos and missing letters. ;) Sorry!

  • http://perfectisboring-ellen.blogspot.com Ellen

    I am keeping the secret of an eating disorder. It gives me the one source of control and chance to be perfect in my life where I know I can’t be perfect, and I know I am nothing without my Savior. I am struggling with this sin, and I know it saddens God, but i am struggling with giving up the confidence it gives me and boost of self esteem that the “new me” brings. It’s frustrating in both ways. And it’s an internal battle because I’m too ashamed to want to tell anyone else about it, and too attached to want to rid myself of it.

  • Anonymous

    The deepest pain was to reveal secrets and not be believed.

  • http://www.twitter.com/nelltaliercio Nell

    I, too, have secrets. And I have secrets that are no longer secrets. I know secrets of my Mom’s childhood sexual abuse. I know too much, I fear. It isn’t good to live a lie but in the same right I think it’s super important who you reveal your secrets to. I had so much of my own pain to handle, too much, and my Mom dumping hers on me broke me. I’m still broken. I don’t know if I can unbreak me. Life is hard and miserable at times, even with the Lord on my side. I try to get up and see the light in the world. It seems so dim at times. Sadly, I think secrets hurt the secret keeper but they also hurt the person who finds them out.

    Nell

  • SG

    I know the last post was last year….but I have a secret and I don’t know how to tell it. I’m 31 years old and about to get married. We truly wanted to wait…but now I’m pregnant. My parent’s will be crushed. I thought about waiting until I had the baby to tell them, but then I feel like I would be lying. I love God with all my heart, and this man that He has blessed me with is truly a good man.

    What do I do?

  • Pat Scholz

    Ann, I cannot thank you enough for your humble, honest, truthful, grace filled writings. They have helped me find the gift, grace, and hope in the darkest of circumstances in my life in the past couple of years. Mother dying, estranged son and his wife distancing themselves from us, my last sister dying, I am only 53, way too young to be the last one left in my family. But through death the estranged son & his wife come back, or is because of the prayers, changed prayers, in the last two years, constantly finding the gift, grace in each moment, as I keep finding as I clean a mother’s, family, and now sister’s home, I find some secrets but also keep finding God in the midst.

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