Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Word For the Secret Keepers of the World

My kids have always loved literature. When they were little I would enter our local library with a HUGE wicker laundry basket whose high purpose in life was not much unlike that of a pack mule.  That faithful old basket would bear the books that would become our companions for the next few days.  

It wasn't unusual for us to leave with 50 or more books per trip ... and then return in a few days to do it all over again.  

Through the years I became quite familiar with almost everything in the children's stacks - because we had checked out almost everything in the children's stacks. 

I knew the good books, the bad books, the boring books, and the books that pierced the human heart in poignant ways. 

At the top of my list for poignant piercing parables is a fairy tale written by Kate Coombs. It's called "The Secret Keeper"  and it tells the tale of a single woman named Kalli who (literally) keeps all the secrets of all the people who live in the village of Maldinga.

Whenever Maldinga's citizens found themselves overwhelmed with the hidden hurts of their lives, they would wander into the woods to Kalli's cottage - always journeying alone, always making their pilgrimage in private because they were traveling with secrets and no one wants anyone to know that they have secrets!

Arriving at her home they would knock and she would answer. They would unload their troubles onto this one woman whose job it was to bear their troubles, and then they would silently slink away from the forest and back to their families - no thank you, no two-way conversation, no reaching out in mercy to the one who day in and day out showed them such mercy.

Kalli did her job faithfully. Not once did a secret slip from her lip. Not once did she give in to gossip.  Not once did the clandestine escape from the locked vault of her abode. Not once did she pitch a fit, or roll her eyes, or act petty about someone's pain.  

She never slammed her door in the face of those who came calling. 
But one day she failed to answer the door.  

     upon knock 
          upon knock met her portal, 
                but Kalli failed to greet her guests. 

After a season of silence the village became curious:  
     "Where's our secret keeper?"  
     "Has anyone seen Kalli?" 
     "On whom shall we cast our cares?"

Unknown to the needy, Kalli had finally fallen under the weight of the angst of others.  

Their secrets had sunk her, their hurting hearts had finally broken her own, and the reality that no one was there to bear her burdens had become a crushing millstone.  

One soul can only support so many secrets, and her soul had reached its limit.

It's a tough tale - at this point as grim as Grimm -  but the story finds a remarkable redemptive end when the villagers begin to realize that Kalli has needs too. We find them beginning to take ownership of one another (including Kalli) - holding the hearts and hands of their neighbors in short seasons of suffering as well as in long lives of lament. 

It's a lesson on the importance of community. 

For me it's particularly an illustration of the need for true gospel community. 

Christians are called to "bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2).  

We need one another.

The truth is, we don't always do the best job with one another.  

Like the people of mythical Maldinga we are often self-absorbed - dumping off our secrets and pouring out our pain on those who have been called to be the receptacles of our pain  - while forgetting that those ordained dumpees have needs too. 

Kalli's story resonates with me because....well... because the truth is I've been a secret keeper. I often still am a secret keeper. I pray I always will be a secret keeper ... because in this fallen world people need a safe place for their secrets. 

As a pastor's wife, and a counselor, and a gal who does disability ministry, and one who travels around singing songs about suffering and the hope of Jesus in the face of said suffering, I find that folks often flock to me to share their secrets. Many of them secret keepers themselves.

The thing I hear most from the Kallis of the world is that they could use an ear every now and then. 

A safe ear. 
A secure ear.
A non-judgmental ear.  
An ear that won't bail when it learns that they don't have it all together ... 
     ...because none of us have it all together - no pastor, no parishioner, no counselor, no clergy, no leader, no layman - we all have secrets, and struggles, and strife, and strain.

Thankfully, we also all have Jesus!  

So, to the Kallis who may be reading this:  you may feel alone ... and sadly, in a human sense you may actually be alone. 

There may be no earthly ear to hear.  
There may be no physical hand to hold.  
There may be no tangible touch - and that is awful ... but in the face of the failings of feeble fallen "friends" there is a Friend who is "closer than a brother" and is faithful like no one else. 

When others fail Christ prevails!  
He is near when all are far!  
And He is tender ... always tender when we pour our hearts and our hurts out to Him.  

Jesus is the Secret Keeper extraordinaire! 

  • He never leaves us or forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:6)
  • His ear is always open to our cry (Psalm 34:15)
  • His bottle tallies and treasures our tears (Psalm 56:8). 
  • He calls us to always cast our cares upon Him (1 Peter 5:7)  because being our omnipotent God He never grows weary (Isaiah 40:28) and unlike human loves, His love endures forever (Psalm 136). 
The mercy of men may grow stale and cold, but His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:21-24). 

It is He who renews us when we faint-  somehow strengthening us to fly again as we fall on Him.  (Isaiah 40:29-31).


If you're a Kalli - a secret keeper in a world full of souls with secrets - I do pray that God would provide a friend to bear your burden, because we need one another.  

But until that time comes (and even when that time comes) I pray that you'll find your greatest succor and solace in your Savior - the empathizing and sympathizing High Priest named Jesus who knows our weaknesses because He has walked in our weaknesses, "tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16).

Secret keeper, in Christ there is grace sufficient for your task. Friends may fail and foes assail ... but He is with you to the end. May you and I draw near to Jesus who has drawn so near to us!

By grace,

"Jesus! What a friend for sinners! 
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, My Savior makes me whole!
Hallelujah! What a Savior!
Hallelujah! What a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end." 


  1. I'm a secret keeper. It's often a one way street. Sometimes I have to fight getting bitter because I do feel all alone most of the time. You've actually lended your ear to me before at a conference and reminded me then of the things you wrote in this blog. Thanks for the re-reminder Lori. I think I'm going to go talk to my Secret Keeper again right now.

  2. Oh my soul. I needed this.

  3. I saved this to read until tonight when I could be still long enough to soak up what you wrote. As a social worker for many years (Having just retired because my body is crumbling.....maybe having been told one too many secrets perhaps?) I have been told so many horrific happenings in children's lives. I am so thankful that I did not have to keep those to myself but could always lift them up to my Redeemer. I always love my time with my loving Heavenly Father. He has big shoulders that can bare anything I bring to Him, and He never tires of having me come to Him. I thank Him for that. Thanks for this message.....totally touched my heart.

  4. Pretty certain that not many secret keepers will be sharing this on their facebook pages because to share it is to let out one of the secret keeper secrets. We're alone. I'm a pastor's wife too and it gets really hard because no one ministers to us as we minister to everyone else. 22 years I've been a Kalli as has been my husband. I can count on two hands the number of times someone has really asked me how I am and on one hand the number of times someone has stuck around for over a minute when I told them. This is a sad problem in a selfish world. Maybe I'm selfish to want someone to come along side me. Like csthankful said, I am glad that God has big shoulders. I would have fallen apart without them.

  5. I need to find that book. It sounds like a wonderful Christmas present for several of my friends. Thank you for another encouraging post.


  6. Such a wonderful post Lori. You captured the heart of a secret keeper for sure and how much we need to have community if at all possible but also to continue to fill our mind with the truth of God's love and purpose for us. The Scriptures resonated in my spirit like the heartbeat of God. Thank you dear friend. You know I love you girl!

  7. I’m a secret keeper and I’m a secret keeper who is struggling. I’ve been answering all kinds of calls from people who are having a hard time with the suicides of two celebrities because those suicides have triggered them with their own struggles with suicide. I’ve listened and encouraged them as best I know how to. I’ve pointed them to the good news of the gospel in all areas of life. All the while I’ve been struggling too. I’m a secret keeper with secrets that no one cares to listen too. One of those secrets is that I’m weary of life. I had bookmarked this post several years ago because it resonated so deeply with my ministry as a Christian counselor, and because it encouraged me to fall on Jesus. I heard you at a women’s retreat a while back and you talked honestly about your struggles and about how sometimes you don’t have the strength to look to Jesus, but that thanks to gravity you always have the ability to fall on Jesus. I’m not doing well today. I’m alone. I’ve told people I thought we’re friends that I’m struggling but they can’t imagine that I’m struggling as much as I am because I don’t look “all that bad.” I’m a secret keeper who has tried to share my secret and it’s been returned to sender. It there is Jesus and there is gravity and I’m falling on him Lori thanks to your reminder. I’m tired. But he’s not.