In America we thrive on choice.
We have the right to choose what clothes to wear, where to go to school, who to date, who not to date, and even what laundry detergent to use. But when it comes down to making the choice to live life intentionally and without secrets. To live a full and abundant life. To live the way we were actually created to live, we tend to make some pretty terrible choices.
Living in darkness seems easier.
I’ve been watching Netflix for three hours. The sun has gone down. It’s easier to sit in the dark than to walk less than three feet to the light.
But it’s this darkness that enslaves us. We hide out, burying hurts, sins, and shames in the dark places of our hearts.
Because it seems easier.
But is it?
Our God, our father, Abba, Love itself, knows what we’ve done already, so what do we really gain by trying to hide out? Let’s go back to the garden of Eden for a minute–that first sin; Eve and Adam were told what not to do, so of course being rebellious humans they did exactly that. But instead of confessing to one another and to God what they had done was wrong, they tried to hide it. Genesis 3:8 says that they heard the sound of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day so they hid among the trees. Of course this was after they’d tried to hide themselves with fig leaves in Genesis 3:7. Which is exactly how we try to hide and cover things up. We start with the surface. We paste a wooden smile on our face and when someone asks ‘how are you’? Our first response is always the same.
No matter how NOT fine you are. You’re fine.
Maybe your best friend has just betrayed you. Maybe your dog is sick and you worry about her. Maybe your family is falling apart.
And still, you’re fine.
Because you’ve covered yourself with fig leaves.
I am the worst at this. For some reason when people ask me how I am I want to immediately say fine, even when I am far from fine. Partly to hide. Partly because I hate being the center of attention and partly because I feel so incredibly weak when I admit that I can’t handle things on my own. Right now, I’m dealing with about 5 different stressful situations all coming from different directions: work, family, personal, financial, etc. Some days I really am fine. Some days I’m not. But when anyone asks, I don’t really want to talk to them. It feels like a burden to share these things with people. But I’ve learned, especially in the past few weeks that sharing things with people, communicating, is really the only way to make it through certain situations. Because when you don’t have someone to weather the storm with, you get beat to a pulp. And getting struck by lightening is just really not great. I’ve got the split ends to prove it.
No one wants to be naked in front of others. There is a vulnerability that comes from that kind of exposure.
And so, you’re fine.
But most of us won’t just stop with surface hiding. We go deeper. We hide among the trees, especially if something in our life is not quite up to what our community might deem as ‘right’ or ‘good’. So when a friend comes walking toward us, in the cool of the day when we are supposed to be relaxing, maybe with a glass of wine on the back porch. Instead of listening to the cicadas, we recoil and hide. We miss opportunities to connect with people and feel love because we are hiding.
Our sin, our shame grows heavy. Our isolation may grow familiar, but it chokes us. It saps our strength. “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer,” Psalm 32:3-4 laments. And if you’ve spent even five minutes in South Carolina during the summer…you know how quickly your strength can be sapped in the humid heat of summer. And we CHOOSE to live our life in this depleted state, all because we are too proud to admit that we need help.
That we need people.
That we need God.
Because unfortunately our lives have deadlines. So we can live in this eternal state of isolation and pain or we can set ourselves free as the Psalm suggests in 35:6: “Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when might waters rise they will not reach him.” Being with others, being with God offers protection and provides a place to hide and rest–: “for YOU are my hiding place!”
Darkness seems easier, but it’s exhausting. When things come into the light, that’s where true healing comes from. We choose God, but he also chooses us. And there is really no better choice to make than that.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance,” Psalm 33:12.