My Sister’s Secret
I blinked. She usually wasn’t awake before I was on Saturday mornings. I texted her back. “Of course!”
My phone buzzed again. “Don’t get excited. It’s not good.”
Instantly, my sleepiness vanished, and my mind began racing. What could be going on? “TELL ME!”
There was a longer pause this time. Then, “I’m pregnant.”
I was stunned. My sister was only nineteen. For six months, she’d been dating a guy I didn’t like.
I called her. Slowly, she told me the story. Then came the words I had been dreading: “You can’t tell anyone.”
The hardest thing about keeping her secret was that I became my sister’s only outlet and source of advice. For three long months, as she tried to make plans and decisions, I was the only person she turned to for counsel. I wrestled with giving her advice and encouraging her to be open with our parents. I sometimes felt as weighed down by her secret as she was. Every time I spoke to my parents, I felt as if my silence was a lie. I wanted to scream, “I know something you need to know!”
I was relieved when my sister finally told them her news. Keeping someone else’s secret can be a heavy load to bear.
Keeping a Secret
What do you do when someone has told you something in confidence and has asked you to keep quiet?
- Pray, and encourage your friend to pray. There are no secrets from God. Take comfort in the fact that God knows and sees all, and pray for guidance and direction.
- Decide whether keeping the secret will harm your friend or other people. If so, despite your promise to keep silent, you need to seek help. Offer your friend an opportunity to reveal the information first, but follow through if he or she refuses.
- Point your friend toward scripture to find comfort and advice, especially if the issue is weighty or complicated.
- Resist the urge to tell the secret because you are struggling with it. Avoid hinting or even divulging that you know secret information. Proverbs 11:13 (NRSV) says, “A gossip goes about telling secrets, but one who is trustworthy in spirit keeps a confidence.”
- Do not avoid your friend. Sometimes keeping a secret can be difficult, and you may wish you had never heard it. But your friend has trusted you, and you have accepted that responsibility. Do your best to help your friend deal with the problem.
- Consider seeking counsel from an adult who does not know your friend and can help you to discern the truth and to speak wisely.
Reflect on what it means to take seriously your call to “bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2, NRSV). If you are carrying a heavy load for a friend or loved one, ask God for guidance and strength.
—from devozine (November/December 2009). Copyright © 2009 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.