Whatever degree we may be suffering or struggling, I think most people are looking for permission to “come out from hiding” – to be seen, known, and loved. Time and time again, I hear people say things like “I’ve never told anyone this…” or “I’ve never felt like I could say this out loud.” Sometimes the sharing is a more dramatic experience or thought; other times it is a “hook” from decades ago—a memory of someone who bullied us, something we did in secret, a random experience that confused or wounded us.
Many things surface in the sacred space of the therapeutic process. But when people share their “secrets,” healing and opportunities for growth seem to increase exponentially. Inevitably these secrets have been holding a person captive at some level. The secrets have fed the ways a person sees him/herself and the world around them, sometimes causing great distortions in their views and experiences. Often the hidden shame and pain that surrounds a person is like a suffocating ceiling. He/she lives with voices and feelings that lie and condemn…a tiresome, mocking pushback. Wounded ones live shrouded in darkness, lost in the shadows.
I have consistently found that when people expose these areas to a safe/ trusted person, often a therapist, they discover new freedom. And equally important—when that trusted “other” has the desire and the skill to help a person navigate through this wound (or lie, trauma, or sin!), opportunities for transformation unfold. Experiences that happened with hard emotional implications for us often require the help of others as we “rewire” our wounds through experiences with an “other” that teaches us something different than what we do. It is no immediate miracle, but being received and redirected to greater truth actually does liberate us.
I love the scripture verse in James 5:16, which says “confess your sins one to another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” This verse indicates a particular healing that comes when we, children of God, receive one another in our brokenness and need and lift one another up in prayer. Therapeutically, people experience a similar communion—being known and loved, not shamed and rejected, and whether implicitly or explicitly, being lifted to God.
But freedom starts with our own willingness to reveal ourselves. Though our hearts often condemn us, we find freedom when we share the very things that we are most afraid to show.
Are there any shadows you are lost in? Have you shared these things concretely with anyone? If not, please consider an invitation to seek out someone! It could be a therapist, or perhaps a pastor or trusted friend. But look for a place to turn the light on fully in your soul. A little honesty and transparency can be a pathway to great freedom. And that is life!
Abigail Foard, MA, LPC