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Editorial

FAITHFUL UTTERANCES: Secrets that are not Safe

This summer, a childhood friend called me to inform me about the death of a mutual friend. I was stunned. Although I hadn’t seen her in years, I was saddened by the loss. She was known in her community for being so kind, a prayer warrior and so generous with her time and resources. She was so young—I wondered if something was wrong, if she had been ill—there had to be a reason someone so young passed away.

It was days ago that I discovered that her death was due to suicide. Someone who had been helping others, making sure that everyone was good and was always happy, encouraging and supportive to others felt that she could not go on any further. It was easier for her to take her life than to go through whatever she was experiencing.

The pain and loneliness that one must go through to even con-template taking their life must be agonizing. It’s easy to talk about why someone shouldn’t do this and that it is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Yet, in the midst of the pain, sometimes people need more than our lip service and our prayers. Sometimes people need to know that we see them, that they are loved and that there are safe spaces for them to be vulnerable and open about what they are going through.

If the church is a hospital for our souls, then there is a disconnect in many congregations across the country. We are not treating people with the care and concern that they need to live life abundantly. It’s like going to the grocery store to purchase food to go home with tires. It might be something worthy and useful, but it isn’t what I need.

We must create the space to check-in with others. It’s more than the small talk but being intentional about listening deeply. It’s allowing spaces that support and sustain instead of offering judgement and condemnation because their issues are not yours.

A recent article in USA Today discusses another secret that many churches will not address either—HIV and AIDS. The article states there were 7,000 women diagnosed with HIV in 2018 and Black women made up more than 4,000 cases, the CDC says. Overall, 1 in 9 women are unaware they have the virus. For many women, when they discover they have the virus, they are embarrassed and ashamed because of the stigma that goes along with being diagnosed.

Hiding secrets and not having a place to release one’s pain is killing us on so many levels. What would happen if we created spaces for transparency in our homes, relationships, churches and communities? What would happen if people could open up and share what they are feeling, are going through and feel safe in being honest about their struggles? What if we could offer the help that people needed in our congregations and communities instead of ignoring their cries with replies of “just pray about it.”

Secrets keep us in the dark. “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light.” (Luke 8:16 ESV) Are our congregations contributing to the darkness? Is it possible that we are not sharing the light of love with others that they would rather suffer in silence?

We have a real opportunity to love others well so that there are not more situations like the ones I’ve witnessed and experienced.

We can embrace others in love so that they don’t feel the need to hide their pain. They can feel heard, get help, and trust that their secrets are safe with us. “A gossip reveals a secret, but a trustworthy person keeps a confidence.” (Proverbs 11:13)

Check on those you love, especially the strong ones. Sometimes the weight is too heavy in carrying everyone else’s secrets.

Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the CEO of Soulstice Consultancy and the founder of the Reconciliation and Restoration Foundation (r2fdn.org). She is the author of 4 books including Empowering Charity: A New Narrative of Philanthropy (Baylor University Press) and the host of the Tapestry podcast.

Written By

Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the host of the Tapestry Podcast and the author of three books for women. She is also the Vice President of Community Affairs for the State Fair of Texas. Visit her online at visitdrfroswa.com.

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