by Michelle W.
What’s the most significant secret you’ve ever kept? Did the truth ever come out?
Don’t Tell a Soul!
I grew up in a house of secrecy, where things weren’t what they seemed. To the world outside, we seemed to be a normal, happy family, but inside, was a different story. That’s not to say there weren’t happy times, because there were. However, the abuse within, made my happiness fleeting.
Within the house, there was a lot of fear, anger and bitterness, which was hidden from the rest of the world. The most significant secret I ever kept was when my stepfather began molesting me as a little girl, and for several years after.
The first time it happened, I did exactly what they tell children to do in school… I called my mother at work, and told her what he had done to me. Thus, the biggest secret in our household began. I called my mother at work, around 3:00 that afternoon, as soon as the man I called “Daddy” left the house. As soon as Mom answered the phone, I burst into tears and told her what my “Daddy” had done to me. She spoke softly, so no one else in the office could hear her, “Did he rape you?” she queried.
“No,” I responded as I tried to hold back my tears and listen to her.
“Okay,” Mommy replied. “Your sister will be home in a few minutes, so you should be alright until I get off work. He won’t do anything else to you, while she’s there. Now don’t say anything to her, because you don’t want to hurt her, right?”
“Yes Mommy. I won’t tell her.”
“Good. We’ll talk about this more, when I get off work tonight. Okay?”
“Okay, Mommy.” I was disappointed that she wasn’t going to come home right away and hold me, because I was so scared. I then began to imagine what would happen when Mommy got home from work.
I pictured her coming home and telling my “Daddy” to leave, and never come back. Things would be hard, I figured, but I would help my Mommy with the cooking and cleaning, and I would take care of my little sister, too. It would be hard, but we loved each other, so it would work out.
Isn’t it sad that things seldom turn out the way we hope and imagine they will? When my mother got home from work, instead of confronting my stepfather with the truth, she kept the fact that she knew the truth, secret. Instead, she simply told him that I had called her up and told her that I was afraid of him. He then, kept His secret from her, and responded that I was afraid of him, because I had been bad, and he’d had to spank me.
My mother, then came to my room, and asked if my stepfather had spanked me for being bad. I was genuinely confused. “No Mommy. I told you what happened.”
She nodded her head, and then said, “I don’t think you have anything to worry about anymore. I told him you’re afraid of him, and he said you’re afraid because he had to spank you.”
“But Mommy, that’s not true!” I cried.
She nodded and continued, “Now, don’t tell your sister what happened. You don’t want to hurt her, do you?”
“Okay,” I choked out, but inside, I was crying, “What about me??? Don’t you care about hurting me?”
“One more thing,” my mother said. “Your daddy wants to talk to you. Okay?”
What could I say? Did I really have a choice? “Okay,” I said, trying not to cry.
Mom walked out, and a few minutes later, my stepfather entered my room. I had a hard time looking at him. My eyes stared into the distance, at nothing. I just couldn’t make myself look at him, as he told me that he had talked to Mom and told her that he had spanked me, and that’s why I was afraid of him. He told me not to say anything else to Mom or anyone else, because I didn’t want to hurt my sister, did I? I’d already been through this with Mom, so I just nodded my head in agreement. He then left my room, and Mom entered the room again.
“I don’t think you have to worry about anything happening again, but if it does, just let me know, and we’ll figure out what to do next, okay?” I nodded silently, as she continued. “Let’s not tell anyone about what happened, okay? You don’t want to destroy our family, do you?” I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders, as I agreed to keep the horrible secret. It was abundantly clear that my feelings, and my safety weren’t as important as everyone else.
And so, I kept my secret for more than twenty years, because I didn’t want to destroy my family. Meanwhile, over the years, I felt as though my life was crumbling around me. I felt unloved and unlovable, until I met Jesus, who began to rock my world.
As I came to know and love Jesus, He began to speak truth to me. It was He who told me my worth…
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Psalm 139:13-14 NASB
As He began speaking life to me, He also spoke the truth to me. It was He who led me to let go of the lies and the secrets that had bound me for so many years…
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
Psalm 51:6 NLT
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32 NLT
Jesus wanted me to let go of all the lies and secrets, and to begin living my life in truth. I wanted to obey Him, but I was extremely frightened. After living for most of my life shrouded by secrets and lies, I was afraid to let go of them, and begin living a life of truth. What if I destroyed the family? Finally, after living a life of secrecy and lies for most of my life, with the love of the Lord enveloping me, I broke the vow of secrecy that I had been forced to agree to, as a child.
I was terribly afraid that when I revealed the truth, I would destroy my family, but it didn’t. When I first revealed the truth, my family drew closer together, in their anger and rage against me. It broke my heart, as it became clear that my pain didn’t matter to them. Yet, although my family turned against me, God was closer to me than ever before, as were my husband and my children…
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.
Psalm 27:10 NLT
I can truly say that during that difficult time, God remained close to me. And though my family forsook me, He held me close. Eventually, over time, I was able to make peace with my family, though my stepfather never repented or apologized for the sin he had committed against me. He went to his grave without apologizing to me, even though he had claimed that I had caused him to molest me.
Now, twenty years after revealing that terrible secret that I had held onto for so long, I can honestly say that I am thankful the Lord helped me release that secret. You see, as long as I held onto that secret, I also held onto the lies that I had been told…
… the lie that it was my fault that I was molested.
… the lie that if I told the truth, I would destroy my family.
… the lie that my feelings didn’t matter.
… the lie that I was unimportant.
I no longer hold onto secrets and lies, because I’ve been set free from the terrible secrets and lies that destroyed my life for so many long years. That’s why I’m so grateful to Jesus for setting me free…
32 “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:32 NLT
36 So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.
John 8:36 NLT
Cheryl A. Showers