PostSecret is a project Frank Warren founded in 2005. Warren left postcards all across America, inviting people to mail them back to him, anonymously, along with a genuine secret they had never revealed to anyone else. Eventually, these mailed-in confessions have become a series of books and a website with over 800 million hits.
Warren’s blog has consistently ranked as one of the most popular on the Internet. The confessions, as you might expect, cover a range of topics. They tend to focus on abuse, loneliness, personal struggles, sexual misconduct, and criminal activity. However, many respondents expressed their hopes and dreams. Some told a solitary, mournful tale. These postcards help to foster an anonymous community, wherein members can see that others share their pain, frustrations, and questions in life.
Some of these postcards offer messages of support, like one that said, “If you are scared to hesitant to leave your toxic/abusive relationship … you’re not alone. (Sending love and strength).” Another said, “Your soulmate is out there and it’s not him. I wish you loved yourself enough to leave him.”
Some cards expressed a sentiment perhaps all of us feel at some point. One said, “I’ve been praying that God would do an “It’s a Wonderful Life’ thing with me and show me what life would be like without me. I’m not looking for catastrophic differences. Just something to show me that I’m living for something.” Featuring a classic picture of Wonder Woman, another card read, “I just … want to be needed.”
One heartbreaking note, perhaps written by a younger person, said, “I have a few things on my Christmas list … But I would give all of them up if that could give my dad a job. All I want for Christmas …
sweater sneakers money to see my dad smile again …”
Another card features a plate of Christmas confections with the words, “I hope my friends don’t mind … That there were tears in the cookies.” A plate of homemade treats should bring smiles, not serve as camouflage.
One triumphant—and probably very wise—card said, “In 2021, I vow to live a social media free existence!!!! :)”
Not everyone broadcasts their afflictions. Many of us hide it, and we do it so very well. The nameless respondents who have sent in tens of thousands of cards to PostSecret expressed pain that no one else in their lives knows. Troubles that live in silence. Secrets that have never seen the light of day. Hurts hidden away in the corner of a soul where no one else can find them.
Sometimes secrets are shocking not because of what they reveal, but because they exist undetected right in front of us. It might be someone you know. It might be your neighbor next door, your spouse, or your child. Then again, it might be you, and you need to know that someone cares.
All of us go through difficult times. The beauty of Christ’s church is that we don’t have to do it alone. The church provides a place of warmth and love. Many people may still feel uncomfortable opening up to others, and that’s a legitimate concern. We’re all human—and it’s only natural to guard ourselves against others whom we’re not sure we can trust. We like our armor. It doesn’t just protect us; it also conceals our vulnerabilities. All of us know that anyone can be hurt, but no one wants to make it easy.
Armor makes everyone look formidable. But it also hides our trembling. And our tears.
The New Testament makes it clear that God loves his creation. We talk about John 3:16 so much that it’s become passe. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son” rolls off the tongue without a second thought. But we should give it that second thought. We should meditate on it—because we’re part of that world. Even though we’re familiar with the idea, our familiarity doesn’t diminish its truthfulness.
The winter season can be a time where many people feel alone. But as we plunge headlong into 2021, we all need to understand that everyone is loved. All of us are magnificent works of art created by the Master Artisan, who wants each of us to be treated with the same prestige and acclaim as a priceless museum showpiece. To be respected, admired, and ultimately point to the hand of the one who created us.
Coming out of 2020 into a new year full of possibilities, you need to understand that God loves you more than you can imagine. Yes, you.