It was early Friday morning and I was late to breakfast with a ministry partner I hadn’t seen in a while. After exchanging formalities and catching each other up on our lives, he shared with me something he “hadn’t told anyone about yet”: he started a new business.
All he said was it involved investing in a field most people would be surprised at but it’d always been something he was passionate about. If it weren’t for the Christian mentor he mentioned who, on his deathbed, told him he should follow through with this passion, I would’ve thought it unsavory. But he kept going, speaking with more excitement and anxiety by the second. He voiced his concerns on whether or not he’d succeed, whether or not it was what God called him to, and what this meant for his future – all while masterfully concealing what he was actually doing.
While part of it was a fear of speaking too soon – like the expectant couple that waits to reveal their pregnancy until months after the fact – it occurred to me the real reason he wasn’t willing to divulge his business had to do with the fact this passion sat at the core of his heart. It was something too sacred to be shared.
As Christians, there are certain sins we do our best to keep secret for fear of being judged, to the point we lie to ourselves and justify the behavior so we don’t have to confess it. But for some of us, it’s not just sins we keep secret. There are dreams we hide as well.
While the two may seem opposite in nature, they sprout from the same seed: the fear of being misunderstood. Sharing either leaves us vulnerable and to be rejected confirms our worst fears: though people surround us, we are, in fact, alone. So we don’t share. Instead we pursue them silently, if at all.
However, the problem with secrets, especially big ones, is the isolation they bring. Some months after my wife and I moved to Cayman, some friends were over for dinner when the topic of the local church came up. As they began to voice their discontent, I sat on our stairs silently listening. Not because I disagreed but because I had such strong emotions about the subject that to share would’ve dismantled me. Though we were all discontent, my fear was our discontents were different. And when they drove away, I felt incredibly alone. Secret dreams weigh heavy on the soul and bring about the same isolation we feared would come via transparency.
If that’s the case, what do we lose in sharing? If we’re crazy then we’re crazy but at least our cards are on the table. As someone learning this lesson now, we must share our dreams. If not for the people who might feel the same ways as us, then for the people who may be able to help us discern the voice of God more clearly. Often, on the other side is a community waiting to embrace us, to silence our fears. And isn’t that true community? sharing what’s sacred?