I have the best memories of playing Hide-N-Go-Seek as a kid growing up in North Texas. When I think about those end-of-summer nights when the temperature started to drop after the sun went down, I can almost feel the cold clover under my feet. After I made it to base "safe", I would roll in those clover patches to cool off. I loved that feeling! The bottoms of my feet would be green when I was finally called inside for a bath, from playing that game for hours barefoot. I would daydream about new places to hide, and get so anxious for nightfall. Then another game of Hide-and-Go seek could begin and I would get to outsmart everybody with my new hiding spots...and roll in the clover with the sweet satisfaction of knowing that I made it to base without being found.
Little did I know back then, that I would spend my grown-up life hiding...living terrified of people finding out who I really was. I started out collecting masks that I would pull out during moments of insecurity. But my collection grew so big that they became burdensome to carry around, and it started to cause too much confusion deciding which mask I needed.
I had a thousand masks, and not one of them was me. The more hurt and rejection I suffered, the more inadequate the masks became to protect me. And I progressively bought into the belief that the real me was not worthy of love, acceptance and belonging. So, hiding went from being a game to a lifestyle for me. I bought into the lie that if no one ever discovers who I really am, then I will never feel unaccepted, rejected or hurt again.
I didn't realize I had been IN hiding until I came OUT of hiding a little over a year ago. At the end of my year of saying "YES" to brave things and reading Brene' Brown's book, Daring Greatly, I felt compelled to use a particular speaking engagement to come out of hiding with a 20 year old secret. Here's the dirt on me, pulled from a book I am currently writing...
The day I felt compelled to use this platform for my “daring greatly” moment, I imagined myself freezing, airways closing, passing out or other worse unmentionables. But instead, I felt tears well up, turned my head for a second to catch my breath and confessed, “I have struggled with ‘closet rage’ for about 20 years, as a minister’s wife.”
There you have it! I struggled with rage. I labeled it closet rage because I hid my behavior behind closed doors, which caused much suffering for my husband and children during those years.
But I was liberated that day. Since then, I've experienced 1 year, 3 months and 28 days of living free from a life of hiding in shame. I could go on and on about how my daring greatly moment blew the doors of my life open and the winds of revival swept through my home, blowing the dust from some really hard years and making a way for a bright, new future for me and my family, which I alluded to in my Power of YES blog.
I hope to progressively unpack my story through future blogs. What I'd like to continue with here is the insight that I've gained about the Lifestyle of Hiding.
To begin with, I realized I was taught to hide by my family. Next, I realized that I was also training my own children to hide. Then, I was awakened to the knowledge that I wasn't alone in my hiding lifestyle. I learned from Brene' Brown that we actually have a predisposition for hiding as American's, in our western culture of "not enough". But especially in the south, we are taught to hide our imperfections just like the line from Miranda Lambert's song, Mama's Broken Heart, we're expected to "...hide your crazy and act like a lady.."
Then, it's my observation that there is even a 3rd level of intrenchment in the Church. As Born Again Believers, we live under an unspoken expectation of having a sinless life. It's what life is supposed to be like after you walk the aisle and repent of your sins. But, that is not the reality that any of us experience. We don't have a built in navigation system for continuing to struggle with sin.
Having been a minister's wife for 25 years, I have not seen many churches who know how to address perpetual sin. Because there is no room for talking about weaknesses that we can't get a grip on or stop in the church, folks have turned to hiding it over the years. They are called closet sins--dark places in people's soul they have hidden and do not want anyone to find--not anyone that would judge them, anyway.
I could literally write for days about the closet sins that people have revealed and confessed in the privacy of counseling or coaching sessions. The irony of all the stories is this:
Everyone struggles with hidden shit they don't want anyone to know. My family had such deep shit they were hiding that they would rather have died than be found out. Yet, we all play this game of pretend as if no one else struggles, which creates a huge disconnection. We create an automatic kick-back mechanism to use when people get too close.
So, my dream would be that we all stop playing the game of Hide-N-Don't-Seek. We could take the risk to live vulnerable about who we are and what we struggle with. Then, we could empower each other to live free of secrets and closet sin.
Keeping your weaknesses, struggles, and addictions in the dark only keep them alive to grow deeper roots and gain more power over your life--just like mold that grows and spreads in the darkness. Exposing the darkness in your soul to the light can liberate you from tormenting lies and from hiding in shame--it kills the mold. This will bring an end to a Lifestyle of Hiding in shame.
A life of hiding looks like waking up every morning and armoring up so you can make it through the day without anyone finding out who you really are. Numbing out when we get behind closed doors to relieve the stress and shame of hiding. Then, trying to get enough sleep to have the energy to do it all over again the next day. What the heck kinda life is that?!? It sure ain't freedom and it don't feel like living loved!
I challenge you to have the courage to get vulnerable with your own personal struggles and be free to live the life of purpose and power you were born for. It may take a moment of confession or it may take awhile, it is different for everyone. The more you have hidden away the longer it takes, unless God miraculously transforms your heart, which He certainly has the ability to do.
But, regardless of how long it might take or what it might look like, don't let fear and shame steal one more day of your life! Life's too short to keep playing games. You only get one chance at it. Come out of hiding and let yourself be found! I promise that on the other side of the risk is great reward waiting for you and your family! The life you were born for is waiting!!!