Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Secrets: To Keep or not to Keep

I grew up very involved with the youth ministry at my church. As an adult, it seemed only natural that I would seek out ways to continue to be involved with ministry; first to teens and tweens, and later to children.  I was also a teacher of various ages for eight years.  In those years I received lots of training on how to ensure to safety of children from a variety of dangers.

I remember learning that you should never keep secrets for a teen (or child). When someone says, "If I tell you something you have to promise to keep it a secret." that should set off red flags. The proper response should be something along the lines of, "I can't make that promise. I promise to be sensitive with the information you choose to give me, but if you are going to tell me something that puts you or someone else in danger, I cannot, in good conscience, keep it a secret."

Of course, one always hopes that situations like that never come up, and if they do, one feels certain the training and education will kick in and all the correct steps will be followed.  Sadly, that's not always the case.

I have a friend. Let's call him Chad. We were chatting on the phone one day and Chad shared some disturbing information with me: He was seeing things out of the corner of his eye. On the surface, that's not such a strange declaration. I figured he meant little floaters, or tricks of the eye.  However, he went on to share the details of the people he could see talking with each other, and the cat he visualized playing with a ball.  Chad made me promise not to tell his wife.

I am sorry to report that I did make that promise. Not whole-heartedly, but I didn't respond with the convictions of my training or any other reason why I was not planning on keeping this information a secret.

Because I felt it best, I contacted Chad's wife and reported what he had told me.  She, too, was concerned. Chad had recently had some surgery as well as a new medication added to his daily regimen.  She thanked me for the info, and I went on with my day feeling guilty and worried.

As you have probably guessed, Chad was upset with me for tattling. I did stick up for myself at that point and tell him that I had done so with his health and safety at the forefront of my mind. Ultimately, the information was shared with his doctor and his medications were adjusted.

I am not proud of how the whole situation played out, but I do stand by my decision not to keep that secret I was entrusted with. I'm not positive that Chad will share information like that with me in the future, but I do hope that, deep down, he knows that what I did was for his own good.

Have you ever told a secret? Or kept a secret you shouldn't have?

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