Several years ago I discovered a blog called PostSecret. It’s a blog where people mail in a postcard with their deepest, darkest secrets to share anonymously with the world. The confessions range from the Starbucks barista that serves decaf to rude customers, to the painful cries of a past rape victim. A new series of postcards gets published each Sunday, and I’m drawn to the website each week to see the new brand of life secrets confessed on small personally-crafted cards. In a weird way, it’s become like a worship experience for me.
As I read these posted secrets I can say that there is at least one card each week that speaks a secret out of my own heart. As I read each of the secrets my heart breaks. There is such pain, such anger—such a cry for help in many of the posts that I am drawn to pray for the people behind them.
The one question that lingers in my mind is, “Where is God in the lives of these people?” Some of the posts are suicidal—some of the people just seem to be barely coping. Where is the salvation that they desperately need? Why is it that each Sunday they come to an anonymous blog to share their painful secrets like a Sunday liturgy of confession on the Internet. Why don’t they seek comfort and solace in a church and with God? I think, maybe because the Church doesn’t want to hear it. It’s too easy to give the “spiritual” answers, “Believe in God and He will heal you,” or “You need to stop sinning,” or “Have more faith,” or something similar. It’s like the story Philip Yancey wrote about in “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” where a prostitute was at the end of her rope and someone suggested that she visit a church—her response, “Church? Why would I go there? They would only make me feel worse.” Perceptions like this are a tragedy. When the church ceases to be a perceived place of confession, forgiveness and redemption, something’s gone terribly wrong.
I have witnessed something that has stuck with me through the church experience, though. My church is a magnet for twentysomethings; due in part to our more contemporary worship style, we pull in a crowd that often does not feel comfortable in the typical church. During one church service I sat behind a young woman who wrote on her program “I hate myself” and “I’m worthless” and a few other like-minded messages. A panic rose in my heart as I watched this, bringing back to memory a young man I went to school with who committed suicide. Then I watched as her friend sitting next to her reaches over, scribbles over her writing and hugs her. That is what the Church should be.
It’s amazing to think about Jesus and the fact that He came in the form of a man and suffered alongside us. He shared our pain, and He took our shame upon Himself. He is our pathway to forgiveness. As the Church, we are to embody His ways as a community. I’ve been blessed to watch people at my own church, still just as jacked-up as any, seek to live as the body of Christ and walk with people in their suffering. To be the place where they can bring their pain, suffering and deep secrets and find someone willing to scribble out their self-hatred and to hold them close without condemnation.
Visiting the PostSecret blog has become an unconventional worship practice for me. I visit the site and read the terrible things that people are sharing and I remember that all of us, including myself, are in desperate need of a Savior. In a way we are all broken, we just need to find the right place to experience authentic forgiveness. That right place is always in Christ.