How many times in our life have people hurriedly shared a confidence with us and then imparted those very words? Countless times my sister would begin her confidence by making me swear beforehand, that I would never breathe a word about whatever weight was she was about to place upon my small shoulders.
I would stand still holding my breath, while she placed her left hand up to her mouth. Her hand would be in the shape of a large “C” and then she would lean down toward me. The side of her hand would connect with my right ear at the place where it was attached to my head. In lowered, hushed tones, her breath tickling the invisible hairs growing within my small, shell-shaped ear, Mary would entrust me with her secret.
By the time she finished uttering her message, my eyes were round, and my pupils had dilated to the point that you could barely see the blue color of my irises. My eyebrows would be lifted into a surprised arch and my own breath would be coming more quickly. Oh, the agony she heaved into my little worldly responsibilities! My mind echoing, “I mustn’t tell, I mustn’t tell!”
Afterward she would draw back, searching my face to make certain that I clearly understood her meaning. Under no circumstances was I to tell. Not tell anyone. Upon seeing my compliance, which was written all over my face, she would nod in that older sister way. That one that exudes superior confidence. My middle sister, Mary, was determined to control me, and she had more power over me because of these confidences which she shared.
One might think I had the upper hand … but no. She had extracted my promise. As much as I could comprehend at that early age of five or six, it was a heavy burden of secrecy that I carried, just as an oxen wears his yoke. She always held the upper hand.
I would like to say that I never broke my word to her, but that would be untrue. Giving a percentage of not telling is about 88% … not bad over many years.
There is a big responsibility we choose to accept when we decide to protect someone’s secrets. So the next time someone asks you to promise not to tell, be sure you will keep quiet and not betray their trust. Can you be trusted to keep a secret?