Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Can You Keep a Secret?

Last night, I did a dramatic reading from a book called, "An Angel's Christmas" by Max Lucado. This was done as a part of our church's Women's Christmas gathering. It was purposely kept secret...just because. Because sometimes, it's fun to be surprised. The more this was played up, the more nervous I got---they were telling everyone it was going to be "big" and "great" and "fun" and I was thinking, "Oh, no, it's just me! And I'm only reading a story! What if they're disappointed?" It would be akin to seeing this big, beautifully wrapped gift under the Christmas tree and wondering what it is---thinking greatly extravagant (and expensive!) thoughts---only to find out it's a vacuum. 

All in all, it went well. In addition to the "stage" (altar) lighting, we used two desk lamps as spotlights because that's the best we could do. No one fell asleep (at least none that I know of). No one threw tomatoes at me. We were in church after all. I even got compliments. I would say the presentation was somewhere between that imagined, extravagant and expensive gift and the vacuum. 

What I found most interesting was how many women tried to find out what the secret was! One hovered around the sound board one evening when I was reviewing the technical aspects of the presentation with our sound and projection guy. I could see her trying to sneak a peak at the script. One swore she knew, but wouldn't tell me (that's a good one! You won't tell the secret to someone who knows it? That means you don't really know---you just want me to think you know). One said her husband knew but wouldn't tell her. I found it all very amusing. 

Women love and hate secrets. We love knowing secrets but hate when we're excluded from the secret. Maybe men are the same way; I don't know, I'm not a man and I don't know how men are wired in that respect. I don't think that men have the same "need" to know, like women do. They simply move on to the next task. But women can obsess about a secret! Like these women did. I think they loved the secret part, but also loved trying to figure it out. Some secrets are good. Some are not.
I love this scenario---how many times have you heard this (or maybe have been a part of it!):

"I heard something about so and so, but I can't tell you."  Oh come on! That's just not nice! That's someone teasing you---I know a secret and you don't! That's grade school behavior! So you convince that person to tell you by promising that you won't tell anyone (also grade school behavior). But once you know the secret, you just can't keep it to yourself! You need to tell someone. So the same pattern is repeated. Oh, and by the way, this is in the church. We do it under the guise of prayer. "Well, I will tell you, but we really need to pray for her," as if that somehow justifies the sin of gossip. Yes, I said gossip. And yes, it's a sin. A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret (Prov 11:13)

I didn't think I was going down this path when I started writing. I thought I'd go in a different direction about something fun and pretty-like how the best kept secret is Jesus or how God doesn't keep his love for us a secret. But there it is. Gossip. Yuck. You know what? We all do it. I don't care how holy, how mature of a Christian you are. You still gossip. So do I. We don't always recognize it, because we think we are praying, or "discussing" a situation. But the bottom line is...any time we are talking about someone else...it's gossip. And don't forget slander. They often walk hand in hand. We don't know we are doing that either. But any time we speak ill of someone, we are slandering. Gossip is passing privileged information on, and slander is the act of making a damaging statement about a person. They are both sins. And they hurt the person being talked about, whether or not they ever find out about it. 

Remember the game "Telephone," where one person whispered something to another person,
and it continued down the line to the end? It was always interesting to see how the original message had changed by the time it got to the end. Secrets do that. Gossip betrays a confidence, slander distorts the truth and disregard passes it on like a hot potato. When we discover just how many people know this secret, we are appalled. "But I only told one person!" One person too many. Unlike the game of "Telephone," we can't laugh at the outcome that we started.

If you're trying to guess what that gift is under the tree, that's a good secret. It might just be that beautifully extravagant and expensive thing you dreamed of. It might be forgiveness. But it might just be something ugly disguised in a pretty package. It might just be a vacuum. Be careful.

Song of the Day
Do You Want to Know a Secret (The Beatles)

Video of the Day (I love how the host has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth as he is hovering over the baby)
I've Got a Secret Game Show clip

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