November 3, 2013

Telling our secrets, sharing our pain takes away their power


By Jack Smith

I’m reminded of something my late father once said to me after I got busted for a night of drinking. I probably wasn’t even 21.

Trying to wrap his naive mind around what we’d done, he asked how many drinks I’d had.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged, preparing to lie. “Three or four?”

“Four beers!” he shot back excitedly. “What kind of idiot would drink four beers in one night!”

If he only knew....

Since I’m still working through self-esteem issues and this novel idea of self-compassion, I often question why I do certain things. Well, most things.

Take writing this blog and sharing my darkest secrets. Talking about your problems isn't something his generation understands.  I can almost hear the wise voice of my father asking, “do you really want to do that?”

Most of the time, I do. The reason I do it is simple. I write to help me cope and give others hope. 

I’ve been dumbfounded and inspired at how many people from all walks of life have written me to share their own stories of pain.

Let me share a few.

There is the old friend from college who dropped out of professional school and all but gave up on life due to debilitating depression and crippling anxiety.

He wasn’t sure he would live, much less be happy. Just as he seemed destined for failure and a life of what could have been, he took a chance with an inpatient program at the suggestion of a doctor. He reluctantly did it, and It saved his life. Now he’s happily married, has a child and a career.

A friend I’ve known even longer shared her battle with anxiety, agoraphobia and panic disorder. “That spells HELL,” she wrote.

I will soon write a blog post on two remarkable women who suffered from eating disorders. One nearly crossed the threshold of death, but she recovered and later crossed the finish line of a 170-mile race, raising money and awareness for her cause. Theirs is a story about hope, perseverance and the remarkable resilience of the human spirit.

More than anything else, I write because God called me to do it. Lying in the hospital bed a few days after my overdose, I prayed to God and asked him what to do.

He put something clear and unmistakable on my heart that morning. Tell your story. Tell your story and use it to reach others in their hour of need.

So I did. Never before has God spoken so clearly to me. It later led to a spiritual transformation that I will share at the right time. I am still in awe of it every day.

Knowing I had to tell my story, I went home from the hospital and put my name on the onemanswar blog for the first time. And it has changed me forever.

I discovered what many already knew. Our secrets lose their power to torment us when we tell our story. I also found that when we drag our problems out of the dark and into the light, they suddenly seem more manageable.

That’s when we realize we aren’t alone and we don’t have to do it by ourselves. This blog has been the best therapy I’ve ever done, and it hasn’t cost me a penny.

Thank you for being a part of my recovery and allowing that to happen.

I look forward to telling more about my story but also the story of others. I hope you will in some way connect to each of them.

Grace and peace.





  1. That was one of my favorites, Jack. I loved reading about how quiet and clear your own head was to be able to discern God's voice. It's often so difficult to shut out this world and its noise so we can be quiet enough to hear Him. I can't wait to hear more about your "spiritual awakening!" 'Praying every day for you and the family.

  2. So glad you were receptive to God's still small voice!

  3. Thank you! Love you. .

  4. Amazing how clear God's voice is when we dare to listen. In my classroom and when raising my boys I explained that there is a difference in "hearing" and "listening". Hearing involves the ears but listening requires both ears and brain and, in many cases, the heart. You, my friend, are a good listener! Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Cathy

  5. Wow! Praise The Lord!! You sure do have a way with words, Jack Smith. I'm so glad God is using you as an instrument for him. I told Barclay that I always knew she was such a strong woman and now we know why. I hope you feel the covering of prayers over your sweet family. Thank you for sharing. Peace be with you

  6. Thanks, Cami! It's so good to hear from you. Hope you and yours are well!


  7. Thanks, Cathy! Prayers sent your way, too.

  8. Thanks, Karen. It is so good to hear from you. Take good care,

  9. I am truly thankful for your gift of expressing what so many can't. You can't imagine how many people you have helped. We continue to pray for your healing and peace. Betsy L

  10. Thanks, Betsy. You are very kind and I appreciate it. Have a great evening.


  11. Jack- I'm so struck by how clearly you heard God's voice, AND how you were transformed by the experience. Too often we either don't hear Him because of our own stubbornness, or we don't follow through with what we know He wants us to do. I'm so proud of you, and look forward to hearing more!
    Psalm 46:10 - "Be still and know that I am God"

  12. Thanks, Jennifer. I hope you and your family are doing okay. Psalm 46:10 is a great scripture for me to be reminded. I am hardly ever still but am working on it!

  13. Jack -

    Your comments about our parents' generation and their abstinance from discussing issues gives me pause to think about the power of technology. I often think about how the intrusiveness and risk brought forth by social media is changing our lives for the worse. Then you arrive on the scene to create a forum and new awareness on issues of which nearly every family endures in some shape or form. Very productive and additive use of technology, indeed.

    Many thanks for the courage, talent, and grit to create a powerful platform on which to discuss the issue of mental illness. I think about you and your family often, especially during daily prayers. Godspeed to you and your family.

    My best,

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