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The secrets you must share before you die

There’s no telling how the idea of “spring cleaning” became a thing, but around this time of year, you and I—and zillions of other folks—are strangely compelled to dig through closets and boxes hiding in our attics or garages. Right? We hear ourselves saying, “It’s time to do something about all this.” So, we jump in and we’re usually glad we did.

Whether you take the challenge now or some other time, the reality is that if you don’t go through your things, one day someone else will. It’s true. When you’re dead, people will go through everything . . . your boxes and files, your browsing history, texts and emails, your receipts and bank records, your closets and junk drawers. Nothing will be hidden from their inquisition. Nothing will be out of bounds.

Everything will be on display.

THE ONE THING YOUR CHILDREN WANT FROM YOU BEFORE YOU DIE

As his literary agent, I was involved in nearly every book he wrote, negotiating, along with my colleagues, the publishers’ contracts. He and I texted often, even when he was globetrotting. Especially when he was globetrotting.

The week he died, in the spring of 2020, I studied photos his family posted on social media, especially the ones near the end of his life. I wept at the sight of my failing friend.

When we die, people are going to go through our things. All our things. Every single shred. Of everything.

FIVE THINGS YOUR NEIGHBOR NEEDS TO KNOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE

I mention this man for one reason only. A point I hope you and I never forget. When we die, people are going to go through our things. All our things. Every single shred. Of everything.

Stuff hidden away in desks and closets or in cardboard boxes in the attic or basement or in storage. These are going to be foraged. This audit will also include electronic documents and things we’ve done online. Words we’ve said . . . or emailed . . . or texted will be uncovered, disclosing things we’ve spoken or written.  

Jesus knows about folks pilfering through our archives after our bodies are room temperature. When we’re dead, there will be no more secrets.

So, what’s the takeaway here?  

Bring every secret into the light now. Acknowledge the truth about things you’ve tried to hide. Before you say anything to anyone, tell God. Though He already knows all about it, He waits for us to humbly confess. And when we do, He is willing to forgive, give a fresh start, change us, and redeem the brokenness of our past. So take it to Him first.

Here’s a simple picture that may help you take the plunge. Imagine you’re standing in chest-deep water down at the swimmin’ hole. You’re holding a huge beach ball just under the surface. Because others cannot see it, no one knows it’s there. But holding the ball down, out of sight, is exhausting. Then you decide to let it go. When you do, it nearly explodes in a huge splash as it surfaces.  

Carefully evaluate your life—not just the parts the public can see, but also any secrets you’ve been keeping under wraps, thinking they will never be known. And one day, as the living peel back through your life and find nothing of which you would be ashamed, what a gift you will have left to those who knew and loved you.  

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It’ll take some time to search through everything. But doing this will save your survivors the headache and—in some cases—the confusion or heartbreak—of doing it without you. You’ve heard it said that “there’s no more powerful disinfectant than sunlight.”

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