Confidentiality versus Keeping Secrets: Can I be trusted?

Confidentiality versus Keeping Secrets: Can I be trusted?

A Story by Precious Prodigal
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March 12, 2014: Confidentiality versus Keeping Secrets: Can I be trusted? Please “Share” this new Precious Prodigal Post: http://bit.ly/PtVDNa

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Confidentiality versus Keeping Secrets: Can I be trusted?
Prov 20:19 “He that goeth about as a talebearer revealeth secrets…
Another way we sometimes offend with our lips is by revealing secrets. Before we even begin, let me be very clear about “secrets.” I’ve heard it said that you are only as sick as your secrets. That’s certainly true, and the unhealthiest people in our lives are often the very ones who will expect us to keep their secrets.
There’s a world of difference between respecting someone’s confidences and helping that person keep unhealthy and sometimes harmful behavior a secret. Unfortunately, it’s usually the rule in very sick homes that, “What happens in this family doesn’t go outside these doors.” That is often the “rule” where physical or sexual abuse or some other outrageous thing is happening in the home. That’s the very time we shouldn’t keep secrets, and that’s not what we’re talking about here.
Let’s look first at confidentiality and what it entails. If you belong to a support group of some kind, those lines are very clear but not always respected. Using Alanon as an example, you have the right to say you go to Alanon and that you were at an Alanon meeting. You even have the right to say what you personally talked about. However, you do not have the right to say who else was there or anything they said. If your prodigal is in AA or some other recovery program, it’s not your place to plaster it all over FB. Both these examples are “talebearing.”
But “talebearing” can be a lot more personal than that, can’t it? Have you ever confided in someone and then had your words come back to you, knowing they could only have come from the person you thought you could trust?  It might have been family member or a close friend. And because people are just people, it might have been a spiritual leader or even your own pastor. I one time heard a pastor announce from the pulpit that a person on parole had been rearrested, and that this man would want him to announce that. Really? I can assure you he would not want that! That’s a special kind of betrayal, isn’t it?
While it’s easy to remember when we have been hurt by “talebearing,” it’s usually more difficult to see that we are sometimes guilty of it ourselves. It seems so innocent to share that confidence with “just one friend” so we can pray about it together. Or we might decide that someone else has a “right” to know, all the while forgetting that we don’t have a “right” to tell. We might even convince ourselves that sharing that “secret” with someone would help him or her to understand the other person.
It’s sometimes a hard call to know whether we are keeping unhealthy secrets or betraying the confidences of someone who trusts us. Three questions will usually clear it up for me. Is the “secret” so destructive that it can harm someone? If it’s not, is it really my story to tell? If it is destructive, am I telling someone who can do something positive about it? My honest answers to those questions will usually tell me whether I need to say something or just keep my mouth shut.
Challenge for Today: Can you, just for today, take an honest look at your reasons for repeating what was told to you in confidence?

© 2014 Precious Prodigal


Author's Note

Precious Prodigal
March 12, 2014:
Confidentiality versus Keeping Secrets: Can I be trusted?
Please “Share” this new Precious Prodigal Post:
http://bit.ly/PtVDNa

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