I celebrated my birthday a couple of weeks ago. It’s probably the time that I miss my mom the most. She always made a big deal out of our birthdays. So I’ve been reflecting on birthdays of the past and remembered a funny story. When I was turning 10, my mom and sister went shopping for a birthday gift for me. I was hanging out at my grandmother’s house while they did their shopping. My mom of course explained to my sister, who was 5 at the time, that the gift was going to be a surprise and she needed to keep it a secret. Well, they got to my grandmother’s house and my sister busted through the door and exclaimed, “Lesa, we got you a diarrhea!” Uh, thanks??? What she meant to say was diary (smile). So much for keeping it secret!
Growing up I was always taught it wasn’t nice to have secrets. If I had friends over and I was caught whispering something in one of their ears, my mom would say, “No secrets!” I think it was her way of making sure that no one felt left out. Sometimes secrets are fun…like for bridal or baby showers, or a surprise birthday party. But sometimes secrets are painful. Things we may have done that we aren’t proud of, or something that has happened to us that makes us feel shame.
I was with a friend recently who had information that she couldn’t share for several months. Something that she wanted to share, but had to wait. She explained how hard it was to not mention it when someone would ask how she was doing because it was something really big in her life and she wanted to share it. It struck me when she explained that to me. I lived that way for six years. I had a secret. My son was gay. There were many reasons why I didn’t share my secret at first. Like my friend, people would ask how I was doing. I would smile and reply with the usual “fine” even when my son was in the hospital. It was hard not to share, but I eventually realized it was God’s timing…not mine…for when the secret should be revealed.
Now that my secret is out, I have realized that I can never go back. I don’t want to. There are some possible changes coming up in my life and with those changes I want to make sure I can continue on this journey of sharing my story. I don’t want to go back in the closet. I can’t. The most important thing to me going forward is that I can continue to be who I am and pursue my passion of being a voice for the LGBTQ community. No matter what that looks like.
So, as you encounter people remember that you probably don’t know their whole story. There may be something that they are keeping inside because they are too scared to let it out. Tread gently with each other. Will you be that safe place where someone can share their secret?
I have a secret. Do you see it?
Can you see the pain in my face…my soul?
Do you see my shame….my fear?
Have you noticed the light in my eyes is gone?
Do you see my sadness?
I want to tell you my secret. Do you hear me?
Do you hear me say that this is something I didn’t choose?
Do you hear me when I tell you I’ve read the Bible passages?
I know what they say.
Do you hear me when I say that I’ve prayed for it to go away?
Oh how I have prayed.
Do you hear me when I say this is who I am?
This is how God created me.
Do you hear my cries?
I told you my secret. Do you still love me????
I hope so….because love matters.