Review: Please Don't Tell

July 22nd, 2014

Secrets. They begin with small children cupping their hands around their mouths and leaning in close to whisper something meant for their mama's ears only. These sweet little sounds are often filled with innocent giggles. Over time, secrets become weightier. The secret teller and the secret keeper begin to feel the power that is inherently behind the secret. This is a strange power as it can be both liberating and burdensome. As adults, we often find ourselves in a place of being a secret keeper. With this privilege, comes responsibility, and knowing how to handle it, before it happens, will be helpful in navigating these waters.

"Please Don't Tell: What to Do with the Secrets People Share" by Emma J. Justes (Abingdon Press, 2014) is an excellent resource for developing the skills to correctly and effectively handle the secrets people tell. Justes wisely starts the reader at the place of the secret keeper. Here, she explores different types of secrets, why people keep secrets, the impact secret-keeping has on the keeper, and the catalysts that finally propel people into divulging their secrets. From there, she moves the reader into the role of being the receiver of secrets. She helps the reader understand the role of confidentiality from a legal and ethical lens, creating strong but compassionate boundaries and helps them understand truth from the perspective of the secret keeper's memory. She does an expert job of exploring the power of generational secrets; however, what may be the very best take away from this book is knowing the potential impact secrets can have on the receiver.

Justes provides scripturally based tools that any secret receiver can employ to find that elusive balance between being able to engage in an emotionally healthy way to becoming so over engaged that the secret begins to seep into the very being of the receiver. The book concludes with workshops that provide the reader with practical experiences. These workshops could be used for individual reflection or as a group training experience.

The readability of this book makes it an excellent resource for clergy, church leadership, and lay people, and it should be given high consideration for being included on trainings of confidentiality and when creating church policies in conjunction with programs where secrets are often shared. The general public can also benefit from the material found in this book as most adults will find themselves in the place of both secret sharer and receiver at some point in their adulthood.

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