I got to wondering recently whether there was possibly a better privilege than being trusted with somebody’s secret—and then I thought about the burden involved. When someone shares a secret with us, they usually do so because it is somewhat dark, but sometimes it can be good news. Whatever it is they share with us in confidence we are trusted to hold the secret. This is assuming the secret doesn’t involve unreconciled criminal activity and the like—nobody should be expected to bear that type of secret. Yet sometimes people share all sorts of things about themselves with us. How do we hold these things? And when is it appropriate to let go?
It is good, firstly, to consider we all have secrets; pieces of information, or facts, about us that we wish to retain with confidentiality.
God honours our secrets, at least through the ability he has given us to manage our own information.
Balancing the Burden and the Privilege
If we are trusted with other people’s secret, like certain people in helping professions are, we must be able to balance the burden within the privilege of being trusted.
It is easy to feel burdened; like we cannot hold what someone has told us. It may cause us stress or to be anxious in some way. We may worry about them. But such burdens can be turned around, especially in appreciation of the privilege of being trusted.
This is where prayer is beneficial. If we consider it a prayer when people are brought to mind, alongside their confidential concern, God is helping us manage the burden. God is the encouraging us to hold the burden—and the person—within an intercessory accord. We are actively involved in the bidding for this person with the angels of heaven. When we consider the unseen and eternal aspects of what appears only to be a burden we begin to grasp the awesomeness of the privilege involved in holding someone’s secret. God trusts us in this and not just the person. We are honouring God.
If we can feel privileged and not overly burdened in being trusted with another person’s secret, by keeping their confidence, and not by divulging the secret (unless to not do so may harm them or someone else), we have truly earned their trust. This is a wonderful test of our integrity. Added to this, if we can manage the burden, we are tested true so far as emotional and spiritual resilience is concerned. But if we cannot bear another’s burden we may also be revealed as wise—to admit our weakness. Again, this is where prayer, and possibly a trusted mentor, comes into play.
Being trusted with another person’s secret is the task of holding that information about them. It is a mutual confidence for which the relationship will rely upon.
But, at times, great discernment and courage is required—some ‘secrets’ might involve us in bad ways—it is good to meet these challenges head-on, not accepting the task of holding the secret.
It is good to be trusted, but also to have the capacity to not feel overly burdened.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.