Keeping Things Secret

woman hiding in shadows keeping secretIgnatius warns against the false spirit’s trick of getting me to keep things secret from my mentors and companions. Common sense requires that I not tell everyone everything all the time. However, if my companions and mentors are well chosen and are trustworthy, there is virtually no reason to keep any part of my inner life secret from them. If I find myself doing so, chances are, the false spirit is afoot. When I am in desolation, I cannot trust my own judgment; I will need the objectivity and sensibility of the wise and loving people around me. Otherwise, I will be lost in my own private fog and will not even be aware of the fog’s existence. The spirit of desolation will attempt to leave me in this fog by keeping me from those who are standing outside it. I will convince myself that

  • He wouldn’t understand.
  • She’ll overreact.
  • We don’t have time to talk about it now.
  • It’s not that important anyhow.
  • It’s too embarrassing to mention.
  • He’ll be ashamed of me. It will disappoint him.
  • I need to work this out before I tell her about it.
  • I’ll deal with it later—it can wait.
  • It will resolve itself.
  • He’s too busy to be bothered  with this.
  • She’s dealing with her own personal issues right now.
  • I know what she’ll say.
  • He’ll be hurt…angry…disappointed.
  • She’s too old fashioned…liberal…judgmental to understand.

If I find myself using these reasons to keep something from my mentors and companions, then I should take it as a sign that desolation is trying to preserve itself. I should not delay in telling my mentors and companions the whole story, leaving out no details.

—Excerpted from God’s Voice Within by Mark E. Thibodeaux, SJ


  1. I hear what you are saying. However I believe that Kevin is more correct. One must be extremely careful with whom one shares his/her heart. There is an overabundance of sharing and lack of boundaries in our society that really has the opposite effect of helping anyone. It is rare in life to have a friend of that magnitude other than God. I have suffered more from the assumptions and judgements of others by my openness and wanting to trust. Yes, others often have good intentions but they are not God. It is wrong to think that others are more knowledgeable than we are about our own unique problems. I would not advise people to go to “spiritual directors.” It sounds nice but in my experience they can be very damaging because you are giving someone the authority to make judgements, give advice etc. where it would be better for the person to work at prayer and at a personal relationship with God. Again, it is better, like Kevin, says to share with God. Too much damage is done, unintentionally, by spiritual directors,psychologists. The people we can deeply trust in our lives are extremely rare. I would not want my daughter to feel the need to talk to either.

  2. surely the most important trust is self……..human beings after all are only human and invariably prone to lapses whether intentional or not so if you choose not to share with another then that will not break the trust. Far better to share anonymously……….besides God knows.

  3. What a great and timely post. I was just talking with a directee about this very topic last week. I will definitely share with her.

  4. This is frightening me—actually a grace, I suspect, to move me forward. I have been hurt often in the past because what I shared wasn’t kept in confidence. The hurt then leads to less sharing and more internalizing. Today seeing that pattern as desolation trying to sustain itself means it’s time to reconsider. It may begin with a clearer look at who my true mentors and companions might be.

  5. My director is also my confessor. I feel.. why have him only know the good points. I want him to know the real me with my faults and failings as well as the positive things in my live.

  6. This was really helpful today. I confided in an elder mentor of mine some very painful and church corporate issues. We talked, we prayed, we read scripture and I left her home knowing I had been with a friend of God. The pressure points gnawing in my back eased up and I had a new outlook. Thanks, ke

  7. Withholding – I do it all the time! Then I spend endless hours worrying that “secret” to death!!!!
    I do know tact & discretion, but I keep some really silly things to myself for really silly reasons.


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