The Partnership for a Drug Free America is currently running advertisements in Time Magazine entitled, “How to talk to your kids about drugs if you did drugs.” From the title alone one can sense the fear of being exposed. The advertisement lists ten helpful things that encourage reticent parents to be age-appropriately open with their children. It ends with “good luck!”

This addresses a common human tendency to want to present ourselves as better than we are. We have a ‘fatal attraction’ to value what others think about us above all else. It really cuts to the bone when it’s someone we deeply care about—a child, a younger sibling, a spouse. In another example we see this playing out right now on the reality TV show, “Momma’s Boys.” One of the guys is falling for a former Penthouse cover-girl. She is terrified that he will reject her when he inevitably finds out.

Boys in the basement. Skeletons in the closet. Secret lives. Dark sides. No matter how old we are or how “well adjusted” there are inevitably areas of hidden, unconscious pain that life has a way of bringing to light. The only effective way of dealing with our past is to integrate it, as the Partnership of Drug Free America suggests. The ad offers helpful conversation starters and a well meaning “good luck” at the end. All well and good, but I am thankful that Christianity addresses this very fear head-on.

I am instantly reminded of the Samaritan woman at the well who met Jesus while drawing water:
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.” (John 4:16-18)
Jesus goes straight to her secret life in order to expose her thirst and need for the forgiveness he offered. A humbling experience for sure, but also necessary to know that God loves her, especially there. Liberated, she evangelizes her town: “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” She was not afraid anymore. Jesus’ interaction with her allowed her to accept herself as she was and also completely validated her personhood. His death and resurrection for all humanity stands across time to call and forgive those of us like her.

I see a correlation in the advertisement and the message of the cross in our lives. In Who Will Deliver Us, Paul Zahl describes this ministry of atonement: “For most of us, Christian growth will involve an enduring, painful missionary advance of the good news into areas of our lives that are still as bound as they were before. Bringing release to the captives is the ministry from us all to us all” (80). The very things of which we are most afraid of being known are just the areas where God works to make his love known.