“I’ve got something I have to tell you, but it has to wait until we are alone.”
This wasn’t exactly what I expected to hear on our drive home from school on a Friday, but it wasn’t bewildering. My son had a secret- one he couldn’t tell his siblings but needed to tell me.
My family has a policy on secrets- you have to tell all of them to Mom.
And it’s not because I want all the juicy “deets” of the happenings of third grade or mid-school. It’s because of who I am.
I’m the secret holder of the family.
You see, sometimes kids get loaded with some really harsh stuff in the world. And they need an outlet for it. So they tell my child their secret. Sometimes secrets are too heavy for a kid to keep- they need some sort of release valve. In most cases, a kid would off-load the heavy secret onto another kid, thus totally betraying their friend’s trust. We have taught our children to tell the secrets to me- let me carry the weight of it. I’m stronger than them. I can hold the secret like it doesn’t exist. Most of the time I don’t do anything about it (unless there is a real danger posed). Since my kids have me as a secret-holder, they are able to be more trustworthy friends, the type that can be helpful and loving to those around them. They can build their strengths of standing up for those who are hurting since they aren’t weighed down with heavy secrets. Because I’m holding them.
As I was thinking about this, God reminded me that He is my release valve. The weight of life is too heavy for me to hold. When 1 Peter 5:7 instructs us to cast all our cares upon the Lord, it isn’t because He’ll fix it, but because He cares for us. He will hold the weight of it so we can build our strength to be able to do the things He’s asked us to do. He releases that pressure.
Now, back to the analogy with my children. This doesn’t work if I only ask for the big stuff. They are highly unlikely to come to me when bearing someone else’s heavy burden if they aren’t practiced in offloading their thoughts to me. I train them to load me up with the heavy secrets by listening to them in the small things. They tell me the things that are on their minds. I have to be careful not to engage in conversation for my benefit, like finding out what happened in their day or how their relationships are developing, things that are interesting to me. This has to be solely for them. Letting them offload their thoughts. So I hear a lot about random things, like complete retellings of books, movies, and video games as well as a ten-year-old’s complete understanding of the function of the kidneys (that one was completely wrong). I’m doing the work of hearing them because I know it is valuable for them to practice telling.
This is the same with our relationship with God. He doesn’t just want us to come to Him with the things we think would be valuable to Him. He wants us to come to Him. To get into the practice of giving Him all our thoughts. Yes, He already knows all my problems, from frustration with dinner plans to fears with a prolonged illness. It is not for His benefit that I come to Him- it is to mine. When Psalm 55:22 tells us to give God all our worries, it is because that is part of the sustaining process. When we practice coming to God with everything, we’ll have the strength to come to Him when our burden is way too heavy. We don’t practice being strong enough to hold the pain- we practice giving the pain to Him so we can continue to glorify Him in our world.
When I come to Him with the things that I just have to tell someone or I will burst, He is pleased. He’s more than my secret-holder. He is the One who sustains me completely.
Lord, teach me to come to You. To put everything on You, from how my children are doing in school to what happened in the grocery store. Thank you for caring for me so much that You take all of my cares. Build this practice up in me. Help me glorify You in all I do.