The False Freedom of Anonymous Confession

The idea of telling someone you know is terrifying, but, honestly, that is where freedom is found

“If you don’t have anyone you trust, start building those relationships. Start handing over some pieces. Start letting yourself be known. This is intimacy, and yes, it is raw, and real, and terrifying- but it’s also healing and beautiful. Freedom is found in intimacy, and intimacy can’t be anonymous.”


In 2012, an app was released called “Whisper.”  The purpose of the app is so people can post content anonymously.  This is not an endorsement of the app.  I’m merely using it to highlight the idea that while we’re more connected than ever, we apparently feel less safe.

Confessions once shared over coffee with close friends are now posted on the internet for the world to see, but no one knows who wrote them.  Known, without really being known.

It happens quite frequently in my e-mail inbox and even hand-written letters in my post office box.  The confessions I have read have, at times, reduced me to tears- rape victims, missionaries who struggle with pornography and are so afraid, men, women, wives, pastors…  and so many of them contain the line:

I just wanted to tell somebody.

I get it.  I’ve been there.

When I was a freshman in college, a female Christian speaker came to our campus.  She talked about pornography, obviously addressing the guys.  Most of my guy friends were fired up.  Who did she think she was assuming that they all watched pornography? I knew at least three of them did, because they had told me, but they all fumed anyway.

When I got back to my dorm room, I wrote her a letter, telling her my struggle and asking for help.  I handed that to her that night at a special “girls night.”

On one hand, it felt good for somebody to “know” but at the same time that didn’t feel like enough.  I wanted her to not only know but also know how to fix me.

A few days later, I got a letter in the mail.  It was from her- typed- and said, “Sorry, there’s nothing out there for girls like you.  Here’s this book for guys.  Only read chapter 10; the rest probably won’t help.”  And that was it.

I felt so… deflated.  Sure, somebody knew, and while it might have felt good to “confess” it, in the end, I was left feeling more ashamed than when she didn’t know.

Every time I open an e-mail, I think about that interaction with her.  I understanding the feeling of relief that comes from pouring your heart out to someone, of finally finding a safe place where you aren’t going to be judged, and you feel like you can be real.

Read More