Thursday, July 22, 2010
By a Secret way.. into the wilderness
I Heard It Through the Grapevine
When my children were younger we would play a game called "Grapevine". Once at my daughter's birthday party we played the game with several of her friends. We started the game by whispering a secret into the ear of the second player. As we all sat in a circle, the secret continued until it wrapped its way around the entire circle of friends. I watched with great interest to see what the final outcome of the "secret" was. When the last girl revealed what she had been told, everyone in the room cried... "that's not what I heard".
Secrets cause all kinds of problems. Like today's emails.. that are often read with "emotional eyeglasses" of the receivers day, so many secrets or messages often misrepresent the initial intention of the sender. But the sender is often not sitting in a circle so near to the last receiver. They are often not aware that their "secrets" were mislead, misconstrued, or misused. Secrets present a dangerous business.
So what is the alternative? The truth? Why yes. But the truth is inconvenient. It often involves taking a long hard look at yourself, your desires, and your intentions. Most of us prefer flattery.
Flattery: lavish insincere praise and complements upon someone to further someone else's interests.
Flattery is one word that seems to always show up when secrets begin to be passed around. When someone says they know a secret way, beware. Secrets are never created for divine reasons. Our God is a God of truth, honesty and forthrightness.
Quote: You are only as sick as your secrets. A.A.
I found this short chapter about the filling of the judgment seat, the attempted murder of Helaman, and the band of Gadianton robbers interesting because it reveals several truths about secrets.
Words and Phrases
vs. 1 contention again - Why does contention arise when positions of power need to be filled. Power creates a drive for greed and discontent with our circumstances, our self esteem, etc.
vs. 2 lay wait - ambush, bushwhack, surprise, keep secret until the bad news.. Kishkumen was with a band of men who covenanted in secret... Remember that to enter into a covenant there must be a dual agreement.. They promise to lie, steal, kill, plunder and in return they are to protect one another from those that would expose them. They must keep it secret. Why? Because it only works in secret. If you expose who you really are, then you can't be that person anymore. Satan knows the power of secrets is not to keep quiet.. but to keep you from understanding who you are. a child of God capable of telling the truth and living the truth.
vs 3 Gadianton - exceedingly expert in words... ah.. secrets require the wily use of words. Gadianton knew how to manipulate people to get what he wanted. He used flattery to become the leader. I'm sure he was handsomely rewarded with plunder. For my grandsons sake.. it is appropriate to call this band of robbers pirates. They stole, they murdered without hesitation, and they worked in secret.. much like the pirates we hear of in legends.
vs 5 he did flatter them - What is it about flattery that works? Flattery only works if you don't really know who you are. When you understand you are a child of God and that his love alone will protect you, you don't need to rely on the flattery of mirrors, words, false promises and the many others things that Satan uses to pull us away from the truth.
Flattery worked for Gadianton because he made shallow political promises of power. We all seem to want power. The sad part is that many of us don't realize the power that our agency brings us. When we choose well we have all of God's power and love. What could be more powerful than that?
vs 7 a sign.. the servant of Helaman had to know the sign that Kiskumen made in order to learn of his evil plot. Secret combinations work on the anxiety of their members. If you don't know the sign you don't know the secret and you may be killed. But for what? What have you gained? How have you learned to love? How have you learned to help others in a secret combination.
Secrets lead you into a metaphorically dark wilderness.
vs 9 he ran and told Helaman - This is interesting! Why? Because at face value it appears that Helaman's servant is not much better than the secret combination. He lied, he led Kiskumen to believe he was a member of his group, he murdered Kiskumen. The difference lies in his desires. This servant desired to protect an honest good man. He did not enter into secrets, he did not plot this murder out, but once he learned of the intentions, he acted in defense of his country. He did not lie for evil intentions, but rather to reveal a lie, and a plot for murder. Undercover... If his intentions had not been pure, I don't believe he would have ran and told Helaman all that he "had seen, heard, and done." He was working to protect the sacred laws of God and those who sought to uphold them.
vs 11 by a secret way into the wilderness. I believe that all secret ways lead our hearts into the wilderness. Beware of secret pathways, secrets and anything that others want you to keep secret. Sacred is different from secret. If someone tells you something that is very personal to you, consider it sacred and tell no one. But do not think of it as secret for this will turn your heart to stone. Secret connotes power.. Sacred connotes trust.
vs 13 the overthrow, yea, .. the entire destruction of the people. Why do we enter into secrets? It has something about the power that we get from holding something over someone else. Or knowing something about someone else that might be used to control them. Whenever we choose to enter into situations that take the agency of others, we lose the spirit of God. Secrets lead to destruction. Sacred trusts lead to God.
Imagine the game the Grapevine once more. Imagine that this time the girls are told that they will have not a secret passed to them about one of their friends, but a sacred trust. Ask them to respect the feelings and not speak of it to anyone. Does the fact that its a sacred trust change how we react when we hear the news. Imagine what would happen if only one girl refused to pass the information along? (to honor her sacred trust). What would happen to the message? How would it affect the person for whom the message was about? What about the person who began the message?
If someone asks you to keep a secret, what would you say? If I don't need to know, usually I don't want to know.
What do you think was the main tool for Gadianton? How did he retain power over his group?
The power came in the keeping of secrets. Don't underestimate the power of the secret to undermine a family, a community, or a country.
The Truth Shall Set us as free.