That’s what she called him. Her “dirty little secret”. Here was Malynda*, an attractive, vibrant single Christian woman. She thrived in her job as a paralegal, owned her own home, and was a leader in her church. By all outward appearances, she had it together. But she had a “dirty little secret”. Actually, it was a huge secret. Despite what she appeared to be on the outside (together, compliant…even spiritual to some), Malynda carried on a secret sexual relationship with a man to whom she was not married. While she felt extremely guilty, ashamed, and convicted by God for her behavior, Malynda could not seem to stop. And, despite these feelings, she also felt a hidden thrill about her secret. She felt a distorted satisfaction at a base level–despite her faith and what she knew intellectually about the importance of obedience and submission to the will of God.
What is it about things that are secretive that seem to feed the flesh and ignite a fierce drive to get more, more, more? That cake of which you know you should not have another piece. That money you promised you would not spend because it was set aside to pay an outstanding debt. That online relationship that, if exposed, would damage your reputation and entire life. These things and others like them can be and usually are secrets, but they feel good. Why is that?
The short and obvious answer to the aforementioned question is because we have the flesh and anything that appeals to it is attractive. The forbidden feels good. The forbidden that is also a secret can feel even better…almost powerful. Yet I propose that there is something deeper than the obvious…something that is both general to all and specific to each individual. It is the longing to be “like God“–an offering originally promised by the devil himself. It is the desire to be in control of our world, to satisfy our every desire and longing on this side of heaven, to create (and have) our own personal Eden. This is the thing that drives every outward move towards the “dirty little secret”. It is sin.
Well, if it all goes back to sin, what hope is there? If I go to a counselor to address my secret shopping addiction and they (eventually) tell me or lead me to see that I “just need to repent”, what is the point in paying them if I already knew that in the first place? Valid questions. The answer is both simple and complex.
The answer is Christ. It is His death on the cross. It is His resurrection from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the fact that He made us alive again spiritually and gave us the power to live with unmet desires and longings on this side of heaven–regardless of the fact that it often feels like we can not. It is that power that brings our “dirty little secrets” to light and gives us the power to overcome their relentless pull. The real, life-giving secret is in Christ. We’ve FOUND the (real!) secret! This is our hope.
*The name and story mentioned in this article is fictional and used solely for illustrative purposes. Any similarity to actual persons or events is purely coincidental. Individuals seen in a professional counseling setting are protected by confidentiality as agreed between them and their respective counselors.
Written by Nicole Efunnuga, M.S. – Christian Therapist