“If they really knew me…” Ever had that thought? Ever worked so hard to keep a part of you hidden for fear of being rejected? Secrets are exhausting and their whispers can convince us to do whatever it takes to maintain the prettier picture we have fabricated.

In our minds, other people do not struggle like we do. Their lives are neater, prettier, and under control. We may be hanging on by a thread, white knuckling over a cliff of destruction, but from our viewpoint, everyone else has it together. So instead of yelling out for help, we hide our screams and stuff our bundle of nerves down in our pocket or purse and try harder.

I remember a terrible day when I was battling hormones and my husband. I don’t remember why I was so angry, but I remember feeling out of control. As we argued, I followed him outside to his truck. As he got in and closed the door, trying to leave the fight, I pounded on his window with my fist and screamed at him.

Later when the storm died down, I just knew that my neighbor probably heard me, and I felt a wave of humiliation and shame. Then enemy taunted me with those words, “if they really knew you, they would be so disappointed.” He wasn’t just talking about my neighbor, but the women at our church and my friends and family.

I was undone.

I was convinced that the woman who lost it, whose hand throbbed in pain from the impact of the window, the one who behaved like a lunatic in our cul-de-sac was my true self. I believed the accusations and saw myself as worthless. I based my identity that day on my behavior, my mistakes, my weaknesses, my terrible performance.

If you are hiding your struggles today out of fear of rejection, if you are exhausting yourself trying to keep a secret that threatens to expose you, stop. Breathe. Your secret does not define you.

Maybe it’s rage, depression, addiction, perceived failures, an unkempt house, a sordid past, a failing marriage, or a prodigal child. Taking on your struggles or those of your family as a reflection of who you are is a strategy of the enemy, his plan to steal your joy and the abundant life Jesus is offering you. Satan is powerfully deceptive and persuasive, but he does not have the last word.

Please don’t believe his lies. You are a child of the King, redeemed and lavishly loved. God is not ashamed or surprised by your struggle. His other children are struggling too. You are not the only one with a secret. The thing about secrets is that their hold over us grows stronger in the darkness. Shining light on our messy truth brings healing and freedom.

Hiding is exhausting and darkness is as light to Jesus anyway. He sees you. The beautiful truth is that you don’t have to get it together before you come to him. That would be like cleaning up to take a bath. He cleans us up. His love and healing are not earned, but freely given to those who surrender their secrets.

We are truly better together, so grab someone’s hand and step into the light today. The love of Christ is waiting for you.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 

God, investigate my life;
    get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
    I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
    before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—
    your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
    I can’t take it all in!

7-12 Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
    God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them—
    any more than I could count the sand of the sea.

Psalm 139:1-21 The Message