DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

The Secret History of Me

Written by: on September 10, 2019

Every town, every family, every person has a “secret history.”

Some live in places like Oxford with long and storied histories. Some come from families with lines that can be traced for generations and generations. But our histories are more than just general descriptions of times or mysterious names in a lineage. And even in the most established places and among the most established families, there are gaps in memory, alternative versions of the story, and other things that simply are not discussed.

I think about childhood visits to my grandparents’ homes. I remember being fascinated with their old pictures on the walls and in photo albums. I would ask questions and they would tell me all about the people in the images. They would take me to places of significance in their towns and tell me stories of events and people from the past. Even as a small boy, I felt a sense of connection in ways I could not understand.

As I read about the secret history of Oxford, some of the interesting, funny, and sometimes dark moments in that town’s story, I started wondering about the things in our own lives that we remember and talk about. Then I thought about the things we don’t.

I thought about some of our “secret histories” and what we do with them.

There are the stories we can’t completely remember. We remember certain parts. Or we remember them in certain ways. And others have their versions. We tell them the best way we can, but these stories are not as much about facts as they are about perpetuating a legend or keeping a person or event alive in our minds.

There are stories we don’t want to tell. Maybe embarrassing. Maybe painful. Maybe just things we would rather keep in the vault or behind a closed door. But sometimes we have to talk about them. But when we do, we tend to talk about them only when necessary and in the best possible way.

And there are the stories that really only matter to us. We all have our backstories, our “prequels,” the events and experiences that have shaped us. These stories are not always interesting or particularly compelling to others, but they give context to our choices and values.

Our stories help give us a sense of identity and a better understanding of our place in the world. They may be stories that many would be interested in knowing. Or they may be stories that only matter to ourselves and a select few. Not every story has a significant meaning and not every story needs to be told in order to have value. But the stories shape us, ground us, and connect us to bigger things.

About the Author


John McLarty

Husband. Dad. Pastor. Play a little golf.

7 responses to “The Secret History of Me”

  1. mm Shawn Cramer says:

    I’m reminded of the quote that is often (controversially) given credit to Plato, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Or the pithy saying, “Behind every face is a drama.” It’s tempting to treat others as extras or supporting characters in our self-centered story who, like extras, have no history, backstory, hopes, dreams, heartaches and a future.

  2. mm Joe Castillo says:

    Every town, every family, every person has a “secret history.” A reality of life and very true what you say. It leads me to think about the secret life of my family. I just realized that my last name is not legitimate to my family. How sad because today I have a last name that I shouldn’t have. There are some secrets that are not told. But the reality is that everything under the sun comes out to light sooner or later. Oxford is a place full of many secrecy that in part create a mysterious sensation.

  3. mm Joe Castillo says:

    Every town, every family, every person has a “secret history.” A reality of life and very hundred what you say. It leads me to think about the secret life of my family. I just realized that my beloved is not legitimate. How sad because today I have an appeal that I should not have had. There are some secrets that are not told. But the reality is that everything comes to light sooner than later. Oxford is a place full of much secrecy that in part create a mysterious sensuality.

  4. mm Greg Reich says:

    One of the aspects of the scriptural narrative that I find inspirational is the raw truth about the people within the story. Even the linage of Jesus was speckled with harlots, murderers and undesirables. There are parts of my own story that I am not proud of but I have learned to embrace because without those parts of my story I would not be the person I am today.

  5. Nancy Blackman says:

    Everyone has a story. It is something I believe in as well. Your post reminded me of a part of my story that was recently revealed through DNA that was a family secret. The thing is though, it was only a secret because of the circumstances of time. I think we need to be reminded of context.

    I love your three takeaways, John. It makes me ponder how all of us being in this cohort together, at this time, will be a part of our stories.


  6. mm Dylan Branson says:

    Getting to hear people’s stories is one of the biggest joys in life. Learning where someone comes from, learning about their families, learning about their dreams and hopes for the future…all of these form a major part of our identities. As I was reading through your post, I was reminded of the stories that some of my closest friends in Hong Kong have told me about their lives. Both of them were from Germany originally and as they unfolded their stories, I was amazed at what they had done, who they had met, the challenges and triumphs they faced, etc. As I reflect on how stories intersect in different places, I can’t help but stand in awe of God and how He brings these stories together.

    As a side bar, your third point reminded me of this song about how we have stories that only matter to us, but that doesn’t diminish their importance:

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    • mm John McLarty says:

      Thanks for the link to that song. One of my favorite things to do when I visit someone’s home is to look at the pictures on their walls and shelves, but especially at what’s hanging on the refrigerator door!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *