Back in the fall of 2011, I attended the New Students Orientation with my classmates from the Lancaster Theological Seminary. It was a “memorable” weekend (actually 36 hours) for several reasons, but two of them stick out. The first was my roommate for the event told me he was homophobic, and I responded that he had no need of worrying about my being interested in him, for he was not old enough, rich enough, or white enough to attract my attention. The second was a team-building exercise, and each team had to decide who they wanted to be in the tribe.
I decided that I wanted to be the secret-keeper. I chose that role because it was one that I was very accustomed to, because friends have, for as long as I can remember, have told me their secrets, and I have kept them for the most part. Actually, I have only violated a confidence once, and it was between two people who were secret lovers (or so they thought), and I said something stupid. We’re all friends again, thank goodness.
I wanted to be the secret-keeper because, as I explained to my classmates, knowing others secrets gave me a sense of power over those who were above me in the political/social strata during this exercise. And I believed that. I practiced that. It worked. I was able to help undermine the leader of my tribe (who needed to be undermined, I must declare).
And while that may be admirable in soap operas or team building exercises, being in possessions of others secrets does not convey power, but is stressful and, if I am honest with myself, draining. Having people tell you their deepest, darkest secrets, because they can no longer bear them alone, weakens you, for you can’t tell anyone, especially when it is damaging to the person who tells you.
But that’s what I signed up for when I accepted the call to ministry. And it’s a burden, but it is one that I can bear, for I honestly believe that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
But, for real, it ain’t easy.