I referred someone to because of one of the topics covered, and she asked me if I’d ever sent them a secret. When I said no, she asked why I read it.

Good question. If you’ve never been there, PostSecret is a website which features postcards bearing people’s secrets, many of them artistically rendered, many of them heartbreaking, and all posted anonymously. The webmaster has given a physical address where you can send the postcard with your secret written on it, and on Sundays he posts a batch of them. There’s also a book.

(It’s also not generally child-safe if your children can read, and I’d recommend against checking it out if you’re at work.)

I’ve only poked around there for about a month or so, but I find it strangely addictive.

When this other person asked me why I go there, what I came up with was this: these are people at their most human, sharing the things they think are the most shameful, the thing that would make you want to leave them if you knew. The thing that for whatever reason, they’ve never been able to entrust to anyone.

Since most of them aren’t illegal, it’s people fearing rejection.

And in looking at all those secrets, those things so horrible that no one would ever love them if we saw them in daylight… I see they’re not so bad. They’re human.

Yes, they may be sinful, flawed, distorted or otherwise wrong. But many of them are parts of the human heart that don’t get to see the light of day, and they don’t stop the people from being lovable and forgivable. In fact, sometimes I’m shocked because the secrets aren’t shocking.

They’re just people. But they needed to let out the pain a bit. And they do it creatively.

Maybe that’s what the Gospels mean, when Jesus says that nothing done in the dark won’t be revealed in the light, and that nothing said in secret won’t be shouted from the housetops. Maybe all things hidden would be revealed and we’d see that the most horrible thing we’ve buried at the core of us isn’t as big or unique as we thought it was. And whatever it is, if it’s sinful, it’s forgivable. We are lovable.

Maybe God sees into our hearts like millions of these Post Secrets and loves us despite them all and because of them all, for humans at their most human, and beauty arising from brokenness.


  1. Ken Rolph

    So you think that to be human is to be shameful. That to be most human is to be most shameful. What are we if we do something noble and self sacrificing. If Jesus was human just like the rest of us, will we learn his shameful secret when the lights are turned on?

    1. philangelus

      That’s totally not the point, Ken. My point is that the things we human beings are ashamed of as unique failings in ourselves are in many respects the things that our neighbors are also ashamed of as unique failings in themselves.

    2. Ivy Reisner

      You can’t make it this easy. If I give the obvious answer, Jane will hurt me.

      I think what she was saying is that we find unbearable about ourselves, the thing we can’t say aloud, is often not as bad when we do say it aloud. Or just not looked on as badly as we think.

  2. philangelus

    Ken, I think that if Jesus wereto have made a PostSecret postcard, it would have said something like, “Sometimes I’m afraid that I’m going to die to save these people… But no one will be saved anyhow.” Or, “I’m going to go away, but when I come back, will I find any faith left?” (I think we have biblical backing for that one, no?)

    All terribly human thoughts that get big inside our heads. People can and often do feel shame about things that aren’t necessarily shameful.

  3. K.M. Weiland

    I quick reading PostSecret a few years ago, just because I grew tired of the barrage of less than savory secrets. But, I agree – it was highly fascinating. Lots of good story ideas lurking about on that site.