What the 'Post Secret' Experiment Teaches Us About Being Human — Morning Devotions – Hope 103.2

What the ‘Post Secret’ Experiment Teaches Us About Being Human — Morning Devotions

When Frank Warren asked people to anonymously write down a secret and post it to him, the results were fascinating—and revealing.

Listen: Chris Witts presents morning devotions

By Chris WittsTuesday 28 Jan 2020Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes

I wonder if you’ve heard of Frank Warren? Frank is an American who one night had a very unusual dream while staying in Paris. His dream was about three postcards he’d bought that day.

This was back in 2003. The next day he bought 3,000 postcards and walked down the street handing them out, leaving some in public places for people to take. He handed them out at subway stations, left them in art galleries and slipped them between pages of library books. It certainly was unusual.

The Secrets Exposed

Frank Warren encouraged people to anonymously write down a secret they’d never confessed before—and post them to him. At first a few trickled in; then about 100; then a few thousand, followed by hundreds of thousands of postcards posted directly to him.

He insists the secrets had to be true, and not told to anyone. What an intriguing project! Some were silly. Some were serious. Some were shocking. Warren declared: “After seeing thousands of secrets, I understand that sometimes when we believe we are keeping a secret, that secret is actually keeping us.” Many secrets people shared are very painful. There is heartbreak and overwhelming sorrow. But it’s become an internet sensation.

Frank Warren posts these comments or pieces of art on a website that gets about 1 million hits each day. And people reveal all sorts of secrets—things they’ve said or done, or things that have been done to them. Things they are embarrassed about or ashamed of, and of secret desires. The list is endless.

We may believe we’re keeping a secret—in reality, it’s keeping us.

Not everyone approves of PostSecret as you would expect. Some think it’s sick and exhibitionistic. Not everyone is a fan. But PostSecret has touched a nerve, especially among young people who want to share something from their hearts. Like one person’s secret:

My secret: I almost never know what to say when someone asks me, “How are you?” It’s probably the question in life I hate more than any other. I mean, really, people pay thousands of dollars for therapy to try to find this out. How the heck am I supposed to know.

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Frank Warren says giving expressions to secrets has helped a lot of people overcome guilt or face their fears. Or they realise they are not the only ones in a particular situation. He also gets letters, and follow-up postcards, which he proudly quotes, such as:

  • Sometimes, just the act of sharing a painful secret can relieve some of the pain.
  • Dear Frank, so many of my secrets are there, without [my] even sending a card.
  • Dear Frank, After I created my postcard, I didn’t want to be the person with that secret any longer. I ripped up my postcard and I decided to start making some changes in my life.

Many People Carry Secret Hurts

I think we can all agree there are a lot of people who carry around secret hurts. Some people wear their emotions on their sleeves and there is no secret to their hurts; some people live in their secret hurts; some people are haunted by their secret hurts. Some people are trapped in their secret hurts and can’t get out because of shame or fear—and the overriding thought What will others think of me?

We all have our secrets, our skeletons in the closet, things that we don’t want anyone to know about us. Sometimes we don’t even want those closest to us to know about them. Some of them are silly and superficial. Others are so deep and so personal that to tell them would be like standing naked in front of a crowd.

Our secrets hide those things of which we are ashamed, things which we regret ever having done, things of which we are embarrassed and don’t want anyone else to know because they will make us look bad. We are terrified of looking bad.

Burying our Secrets is Hurting us

Psychologists say that burying our secrets is never a good thing. It can cause untold damage. The Bible says in Hebrews 4:13: Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Human beings have an amazing capacity for self-deception. We tell ourselves all kinds of lies to ourselves like:

  • It’s OK.
  • It’s not that bad.
  • No-one will know.
  • What they don’t know won’t hurt them.
  • It will all work out.

But the Bible has another message in 1 John 1:7–9:

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.