One Good Phrase: Secrets Don’t Make Friends (Megan Tietz)

One Good Phrase: Secrets Don’t Make Friends (Megan Tietz) January 23, 2013

Megan Tietz owns such command of language and knows just how to use gentleness to guide her readers to the good truth. This woman has a lot going on right now. (For details check out her blog.) And I’m honored she has taken the time to be with us here today. After you read this post, you’ll probably want to click on her previous guest post from the {This Sacred Everyday} series. I’m so glad to welcome her.


Last week, Seth kicked off this series with a thoughtful turn on the idea of One Good Phrase. How appropriate that the first phrase offered for our collective musing was one rooted in ancient tradition, illuminated by Seth’s masterful treatment of the themes of both exclusion and inclusion in the church universal, a reflection on a phrase rich in meaning and imperative to the health of the body of Christ.

I hope you’ll not be too disappointed, then, with this meager offering from an aging sorority girl who insists to this day that some of life’s most lasting lessons came to me under the banner of Greek letters, pressed into my heart alongside white carnations and cryptic crests and panhellenic spirit in the most formative years of life.

I remember those days with a clarity that betrays the length of the years that have passed since we spent afternoons and evenings in giggly, gossipy, Diet-Coke-fueled clumps, tucked into tiny dorm rooms or sprawling against the walls of the hallway of an entire floor. In those days right before cell phones invaded and stole all of our attention, we fiddled with pens in hand or cigarettes or crunched on ice from Route 44 sized cups from Sonic.

And I remember that one of us would hold her hand in front of her mouth in a half-hearted attempt to shield her words from the hearing of others, making some snarky commentary or divulging some sizzling hot gossip. And upon seeing this, some Mother Hen would cluck:

Uh-uh-uh! Secrets don’t make friends!

And we would roll our eyes or laugh or be annoyed. But somehow in four years, that phrase – that one good phrase – took root in me. In fact, I so internalized its truth and its power that I found myself involuntarily repeating it to my high school students when I was teaching and later to my daughters as they played.

Because isn’t that the truth, really?

Secrets don’t make friends.

For the sake of discussion, let’s cast aside the fun, healthy, sweet side of secrets: Surprise parties. Don’t tell the name until the baby is born. Romantic proposals. Anonymous gifting that meets a need big or small. These, we can all agree, are the secrets that bring light and spontaneity and thrill to life.

Let’s instead turn a sharp eye to the other kind of secrets, the ones that truly do not make friends because they are inherently harmful to relationships.

The insidious nature of secrets are that they are almost always rooted in shame. If there weren’t some degree of shame attached to them, we would just speak them out loud.

To be the subject of a secret means knowing the sting of disloyalty and the shame of decisions regretted.

To be the teller of a secret means exploring the shame of realizing at your very core you cannot be trusted.

To be the keeper of a secret means carrying a burden whose weight never grows lighter, believing if anyone knew the truth, the shame of it all would consume you.

Relationships that are authentic and true reject the hot-breath-in-your-ear whispers of secret. Relationships that are healthy and strong sense when one or the other is holding cards to close to the chest, avoiding eye contact, and insisting that it has all been laid out on the table. Relationships that are grounded in grace and in truth won’t pry your secrets out of you, taking some selfish pleasure in the voyeurism of your soul; instead, they create a space with undergirds of trust that bars condemnation at the door.

Shame and secrecy have no place for those of us following Christ in The Way – no place in the life of the individual and no place in the vibe of community. Conviction? Absolutely. We yield to the movement of the Spirit within calling us to confess and repent. But shame calls us to the opposite of that; it encourages us to retreat and hide and bury our secrets deep.

Some of us are more prone to secret-keeping than others, especially those of us whose past attempts at honesty and transparency have been met with punishment, abandonment, and rejection. We may need to log many more hours in a room of grace than others before we let those secrets come tumbling out. Be gentle with us, and patient, too. We want so badly to know the relief of secrets told.

And all of us need to be in relationship with at least one person who will Mother Hen us and call us on the carpet when we engage in the shifty acts of secret-keeping. Whether its in a dorm room or a church hallway or the bleachers of a football game or a coffee shop or on the couch in the late hours of evening, may we ever heed the warning and embrace the freedom in knowing that secrets don’t make friends.

Megan Tietz is the soothing voice and spirited pen behind SortaCrunchy – blog hub for all things faith, family, and natural living since 2006. She’s also the co-author of Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby’s First Year
Megan and her husband Kyle make their home in Oklahoma City with daughters Dacey and Aliza Joy, both anxiously awaiting their twin brothers’ arrival in the very near future. She’s all-too-happy to sit down with a cup of good coffee and talk endlessly on pop culture, great books, and the wonders of the life in Christ.

Browse Our Archives