Do you remember that feeling when you were playing hide and seek and the seeker called out those catch-your-breath words: ‘Ready or not, here I come!’? You stand squished into your hiding place, because let’s face it; most hiding places are not that comfy and you dare not move a muscle. There’s the dusty smell in the carpet under the bed, the standing awkwardly amongst high heels in the wardrobe or crouched as tightly as you can to not be seen behind a piece of furniture. Yet with fierce determination you hide. Small breaths, frozen muscles and ears straining for clues to your seeker. You hope that someone else – anyone else – will be found before you. That your hiding ability will keep you safe.
Hiding may have began in childhood games, but I’ve noticed that hiding still goes on well into adulthood. There’s the harmless enough hiding of sweet treats from the kids, but then there’s also a hiding we do within our own life and person that’s not such a great habit to participate in. I believe that kind of hiding much like playing hide and seek involves this hope that hiding will save you from being found. That somehow if you can hide well enough, for long enough, it will protect you. We get suckered into false thinking that remaining hidden is somehow better than being found, but what we actually long for the most is to be truly found. Deeply known. To be seen.
We love to hide because it feels somewhat safer than full exposure and when we so often question our worth and abilities we wonder if we are perhaps so terribly flawed that if someone found us – the us that is truly us – that we would be done for. Life as we know it would end! This feeling of shame and apprehension about who we are at the core of ourselves is the driver for hiding. It may have a different name like pretending, masquerading, acting or ‘fake it ‘til you make it’, but essentially it is all a game of hiding.
Adam and Eve were the first humans and the first hiders. It didn’t start with me and didn’t start with you! They held the enviable daily routine of walking with God in the garden in the cool of the evenings. They knew him, they loved him and they felt known and loved by him. Then they do their first dumb thing and instead of confessing, instead of owning it they respond out of their inability to reconcile the facts that they did a dumb thing. That dumb thing was going to hurt God whom they still loved completely and those horrid feelings of failure drove their behaviour. Their shame, their remorse and their inability to change the facts caused the first ever game of hide and seek.
It’s interesting how today our feelings of failure or of falling short still cause the same instinctive response. Hide! Those feelings then become a coping strategy and behavioural pattern of hiding. They become so ingrained that we then use hiding as a preventative measure. Let’s not put ourselves out there completely, if we fail we will be exposed and everyone will see it. Let’s be tentative. Let’s just water it down a little, hedge our bets, float our ideas with safe people first, shrink our personalities a little, only give a little… all of it is forms of hiding.
It’s a very brave thing to stop hiding. It’s brave because you do feel terrified. It’s vulnerable to step out from behind your chosen hiding formation. I have hidden behind my children. I have hidden behind my husband. I have hidden behind busyness. I have hidden behind friends, job titles and even bosses… I have hidden in photographs, behind beach towels at the beach and sunglasses are the ultimate concealers! I have explored this hiding thing pretty thoroughly! I have also started a journey of choosing not to hide. To allow the light to see me and me to feel it on my skin. I have shown up in meetings with opinions and ideas. I have made jokes at perhaps inappropriate times and allowed myself to just be. It has been risky but what still shocks me every single time I do it – is that nothing bad happens! In fact, it often opens others up, it often allows a conversation to be more faceted, relationships to go deeper, dreams to stretch further. It’s raised some eyebrows, its straightened some people in their chairs, but nothing terrible has ever once happened.
When we hide, we encourage others to hide. Somehow our hiding senses pick up someone not being fully present and so we don’t show up either. Perhaps the worst part of hiding I’ve identified is that when we hide, we shrink. We contort and squish, just like the hiding spots we chose as kids were usually uncomfortable, so are our metaphoric hiding spots. We can’t even fully be ourselves there! They just shrink us and hurt us on every front. We are big people. We are designed for big life, big purpose, big adventures. You are designed for big life, big purpose, big adventures. You are purposed for exposure to light, not hiding in dusty darkness!
Will you join me on this quest to stop hiding? You can be you, I can be me and together we can cheer each other on as we stand at full stature, fully present in all the moments that come. You give others a gift when you bring your full self to the table. It is still a gift when you a do a dumb thing and still bring your full-self to the situation. That is a gift of courage, because if you are anything like me, doing a dumb thing is inevitable! We all do dumb things but we don’t all have to hide.
So, as the game of ‘Hide and Seek’ concludes and there remains hidden people unable to be found by the seeker, let my voice join with theirs and say to you, ‘Come out, come out, wherever you are!’
“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” Hebrews 4:13