A mournful-looking guy walked into a bar and asked for a shot of whiskey — straight. He gulped it down, then pounded on the bar for two more. The bartender looked at him quizzically and said, "Buddy, you'll be in a mess of trouble if you down a couple more of those. Slow down a bit." The unhappy boozer replied, "Hey, living dangerously is in my blood. Twenty years ago my dad was the first guy to ever jump from a plane two thousand feet up without a parachute. Ten years later my brother was the second man to ever do it. A couple of years ago my mother was the first woman to jump out of a plane at three thousand feet without a parachute, and tomorrow I'll be the first to jump out of a jumbo jet without a parachute." The incredulous bartender said, "That's crazy! Don't you know that you could be killed?" "Of course," the customer replied, "but what have I got to live for? I've got no father, no mother, no brother …."

That's dysfunction passed from generation to generation. A lot of our dysfunction is fueled by harboring secrets.

Our secrets can become our sickness. Some are trivial. I asked a friend why he was getting married. He told me that he was tired of holding in his stomach. His new wife will soon find that her prize package is a surprise package. I have discovered that many times in life the difference between happiness and unhappiness is whether you cover up or speak up.

Have you noticed that most of our secrets involve others, and usually they are family? And all too often they profit from the dysfunction those secrets create. A man went to a psychologist because his wife believed she was a chicken. The psychologist suggested that he bring his wife in for an appointment so that he could cure her of this delusion. The man replied that that might not be such a good idea because they needed the eggs.

Billy and his sister spent the summers with their grandmother. They loved to go to Grandma's home where she had open fields to roam and play in and delicious homemade biscuits to eat. Do you remember that generation of grandmas that cooked biscuits? This generation's grandmas make reservations.

Well, Billy had bought a brand new sling shot, and he couldn't wait to get to the country to practice shooting at trees and tin cans. Billy was practicing one day when Grandma's prize rooster came strutting by. Billy wondered how close he could come to shooting Grandma's rooster without actually hitting it. He pulled that sling back, aimed just above the rooster's head, and let her fly. But as soon as the rock left the sling shot, he knew that he would hit it.

Sure enough, he did — and he killed Grandma's prize rooster! He quickly buried the rooster in the far corner of the field. But just as he was finishing, a voice taunted, "You killed the rooster! You killed the rooster!" Looking up, he saw his sister, Susie, sitting in a tree, watching him. He begged his sister to keep his secret!

That night after dinner, when Grandma told Susie it was her turn to wash the dishes, she told Grandma that Billy had agreed to wash the dishes. Billy looked at her in astonishment. She then quietly whispered to Billy, "Remember the rooster."

Billy slaved away throughout the summer doing all of Susie's chores. It was a long hot summer, and Billy didn't spend much time with Grandma — and he avoided Susie, too.

That summer was horrible! Billy was wasting all of his energy covering up instead of enjoying life in the country. (It's mystifying to me that people — and churches — spend so much more energy covering up problems than it would take to solve them.)

About a week before summer's end, Billy couldn't stand it anymore. (Breakdown always occurs before breakthrough.) He really missed being around Grandma and those big hugs she gave. All of the effort of keeping everyone away from the rooster's grave and the long days of doing someone else's chores were exhausting. Finally, he bolted into the house and confessed to Grandma, "I killed the rooster. I killed the rooster. I'm so sorry."

Grandma gently hugged him and told him that she had known all along — she had been watching from an upstairs window. As a matter of fact, she had been saving the egg money all summer to buy a new rooster, and it should arrive in the next few days.

We've all made mistakes and tried to cover them up. Then we mope around and let people manipulate us. Satan, the accuser, beats us down and has a field day as he convinces us that God will condemn us. The truth is that we are all defective and have been recalled by our Maker. God is like that Grandma. He has paid for our sins. He's not going to condemn you if you confess — He's going to hug you. The roosters have been paid for, and the truth will set you free.

Don't let secrets sabotage your spiritual growth. Quit covering up — speak up. And tell sister to do the dishes!

    About the Author

  • Charles Lowery