Monday, October 19, 2009


I had this dream one night:

I arrived home to find my wife and her friend visiting, drinking coffee, doing whatever two best friends do. I had brought home one of our favorite treats—a seedless watermelon. I decided to serve the two of them a slice. So I took a large knife, cut the watermelon in half and covered the one half with plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator.

When I turned back around to slice the other half, I was shocked at what I saw. In the center of the melon were two squirming slugs, a small one on the top surface and a larger one deeper in the red flesh. I threw it away and retrieved the other half. I pulled off the plastic and there were two more slugs, one large and one small. I was speechless and stood dumbfounded for a moment before I woke up.

Once again, the combination of incomprehensible aspects and vivid detail in the dream, not to mention the fact that I remembered every little detail, told me that God was speaking to me. And after thought, prayer and talking to a trusted friend, I arrived at this interpretation:

The watermelon was fruit that I wanted to and attempted to share with my wife and her friend. But the fruit was tainted, unworthy, and defiled by two ugly secrets from my past. Bottom line: these two secrets, one small and one large, were preventing me from sharing spiritual fruit with my wife and friends.

The message was clear: God wanted me to rid myself of these secrets. And until I did, any fruit of the spirit would not be received by those I wanted to share it with.

The secrets were shameful and painful and I had hidden and guarded them so well for 25 plus years that even I had grown oblivious to their damage—damage to my relationships with friends, family and especially my wife.

The small secret, lying on the surface, was something my wife knew a bit about, as I had revealed parts of it to her when I first realized its truth several years earlier. And, being the perceptive woman that she is, there were aspects of my personality that she could see through to their root. Duh!

But my friends, my spiritual family, they knew nothing of my childhood abuse. And yet it colored my ability to trust people, make friends, love freely. And affected—and still affects my relationships with them.

And the larger secret, the one hidden deep inside me, only added layers of silence and deceit to the protective shell in which I had sealed my heart.

I wrestled with God’s message for a few days, and then told my wife. She accepted the truth behind the secrets. And then I told a trusted friend, and then another one. With each telling I felt freedom wash over me. Freedom and cleansing.

The bump in the road came when my wife told me several days later that she was struggling now. Not with the secrets, which like the small slug on the surface, were to her small and already surmounted in our lives together. The truth of my past was a part of me, the man she loved and couldn’t imagine life without. What bothered her was the fact that I had not divulged the secrets to her earlier. That after 12 years of marriage I didn’t feel I could trust her. And this hurt her deeply.

And that’s when I heard God’s true message: It’s not the secrets that harm; it’s the keeping of them.

And by the way, true to her character and God’s calling, my wife forgave me. And she still loves me! It truly is amazing how much "collateral healing" can be accomplished by healing.

I was sexually abused as a young child by a person unknown (small slug) and it happened again in my teen years by someone I knew and trusted and could have stopped (big slug). Those are my secrets. Am I less a man or less a beloved child of God for having those secrets? No. Am I not a strong father, hard worker, decent human being because of what happened in my youth? Do my talents, capabilities and skills wither to insignificance because of my secrets? Of course not.

The big question is how much better a son, husband, father, brother, worker, artist, friend would I have been if I had not buried those secrets for most of my adult life? What heights might my empathy, confidence, success, and potential have reached? I’ll never know for sure, but I can guess.

What we secret-keepers need to fear—and resolve, is the damage done by the hiding and protecting of our secrets at all costs. Because that lifestyle wears a heavy pricetag.