Recovery programs often use the saying — “You’re only as sick as your secrets.”

My pastor, Barry Smith of Impact Community Church in Sacramento, is betting that’s true, and he’s encouraging people to get well by confessing their secrets via an anonymous Web postings at
The site is self-rated as PG-13 and has a somewhat voyeuristic feel. One writer confesses that he feels conflicted while reading about “people having similar problems” versus the “enjoyment of gossiping.”

The site definitely contains real issues, like addictive pot-smoking, self-mutilation, compulsive lying and alcoholism. “Bianca” wishes she could “just stop drinking, I know it’s slowing killing me . . . I pray to God for the power to stop.”

Confessors include those who’ve lied on government documents, had abortions or anorexia. One person admits he “sometimes can’t tell if my faith is real,” while a mother says she hates her children.

Not surprisingly, most of the confessions have to do with sex. For example, “Larry” confesses that: “Three times I have cheated on my wonderful wife. I so wish I had the nerve to tell her . . . I am a weak and pathetic man.”

While people have been doing these kind of confessions on blogs for years, the site is filled with the kind of hope only faith can provide.

Pastor Smith believes “this Web site is just a first step toward healing. It is not a ‘fix’ for what ails you. We have seen that most people have secrets and many of those secrets are destroying them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It is time to get free from those secrets by confessing to God and, eventually, to others as appropriate.”

Larry finally confessed to his wife. She responded with her own confessional posting:

“I know in my heart that we are going to . . . be an even stronger couple afterwards because we are both free of the shame and dirtiness.” She says that the secrets were “like living in a dungeon. We are now looking forward to building new memories together with our kids and God firmly in the picture.”

One man who called himself “Liar” sees a lot of good out of confessing. “Since I let every detail of our relationship out, it hurts, but it feels good to get it out. Hopefully this will help others in their secrets.”

One of the most heartfelt postings came from someone calling herself “Confessed & Free!” “As I confessed & repented, it got easier each time . . . my heart, literally, was lighter. My chest did not feel so heavy. I was told my countenance had changed. To confess & repent is to FREE YOURSELF . . . and empty your heart of all the ‘yuck . . .’ ”

“Just Like You” adds a benedictory thought:

“The church is for the sick! Many people think Christians are hypocrites . . . and many of us are. This Web site shows the world we are all ‘ill’ and Christians just like non-Christians need healing . . . the church is our hospital. I hope people use this site to start the healing process . . .!”

You can e-mail Pastor Barry at [email protected] or access the church Web site at