4 Ways We Hide From Who We Are

Every time someone asked me about my father, I got a stabbing feeling in my gut. Like it was my fault I didn’t know him. So many times I would make up stories. 

“He was killed in the war; he was a hero!”

“He was killed in a car crash.”

“My mom and dad are divorced.” 

That last one, the divorce one, in the 70s, was about as bad as not knowing him. But, it was so much easier than saying “I don’t have one.” Of course, I have one right? Even 4-year-olds know that! But I just couldn’t face explaining to people I didn’t know him. I learned to hide who I was in as many ways as possible. 

Lying

The first was lying. Each of those statements above was a lie. But they diverted the real issue, and it worked. So I learned, lying works. It takes the attention off the negative. It ends the conversation. Until it doesn’t. Until the truth comes out and you’re in a deeper hole than when you started. I would lie that I didn’t take any cookies from the cookie drawer. This lie would lead to many years of dysfunctional eating. I would lie that I was spending the night at my girlfriend’s house when instead we would be out partying all night. 

Then as I aged and matured, I would lie at church and in my groups that my marriage was great. We did all the things right. We had date nights, devotions, regular sex, deep conversations. The reality? For a while, we had none of that. 

Those things weren’t happening because of the lie I would tell myself. The lie I would tell my husband. The lie I would tell my best friends. 

“I’m Fine!”

Oh, sister, how many of us live in that lie? We say it enough until we believe our situation is fine. When our reality is anything but. We believe the lie. 

Seclusion

When I realized it was too hard to keep lying, I secluded myself. If I hung out in my house, just me and the tv, no one could know. How often do we drive home every day, park in our garage and close the door? Close ourselves in. Away from the world. 

As an extravert, that only worked for so long. Yet, I found ways to stay secluded, even out in the world. I would busy myself with the kid’s school. I would walk around a shopping center or the mall. Anywhere I could hang out with people yet not be asked questions. I was the loneliest I had ever been amid a sea of people. 

But, you introverts, can hole up for days. Even though you too need some human interaction, there are words that keep you hidden. 

“I’d rather not talk about that. I’m a very private person.”

Interpreted – “I will not let you into my pain. I will deal with it myself so you will think I’m ok.” 

Shame

In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve hid from God. This is the first account of trying to hide from Him. 

8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Why were they hiding? They had done the one thing He asked them not to do! They were ashamed. They thought if He couldn’t see them, couldn’t see their nakedness, He would not know. 

We speak so many words over children that can bring on a lifetime of shame. 

“Putting on a little weight aren’t you?”

“Stop slouching!”

“How can you be so stupid?”

I heard so many of these things. I would wear oversized boy clothes to hide the little pudge I was developing at age 11. Then I would sneak an extra Twinkie at night because it made me feel better. I would make up stories that would make me sound smarter. Steal clothes that we couldn’t afford so I would look more normal. All the while developing ulcers because I was so ashamed, knowing I was wrong. 

The worst feeling was making up stories about my mom. Stories that made her look like a strong, caring mother. Stories that would show the world I didn’t need a father. We were better because we didn’t have one. Didn’t need one. The truth? I was so ashamed of not having one, I couldn’t bear anyone knowing it. 

All of this led to the biggest way I found to hide…

Performance

I read something in a book the other day that rang so true for me. I don’t remember it exactly, so I’ll paraphrase. It said something about wanting to be the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. Man, that was my childhood. I was an only child, but I had a slew of cousins around a lot. I loved most of them like siblings since I didn’t have any. Yet I always felt like an outsider. I learned the best way to get the attention I so desired was to perform. 

If I performed well, nobody saw the pain inside me. Everything looked so good and accomplished on the outside. Except for my hair… it never looked good! 

One cousin always called me spoiled. He talked about all the games and toys I had. What he didn’t understand was I received those things when I performed well. So it fueled the wrong thinking –

The only way someone will love me is to put on a smile and perform well.

If I didn’t do those things, they chastised me. “Stop crying.” “Stop whining.” “Try harder.” So I hid behind the things I did well. If I couldn’t do something well, I quit. And that is the attitude I carried into my adult life of marriage and children.

Until next time, ponder what this means,

 “May the Lord lead your hearts into a full understanding and expression of the love of God and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.   ~ 2 Thessalonians 3:5

                                                                 

Is It Hard to Tell Your Story?

Photo by The Coach Space on Pexels.com

Have you ever told your story to someone? Have you told a friend over coffee or written it in a letter? Maybe you’re asking “What is my story?” “Do I have a story?” Well, yes, you do! Everyone has a story. The Lord doesn’t allow us to go through the trials without creating a story through it. But, why? And why should we tell? Because when we do, others gain insight and wisdom into their own pain and struggles. Wouldn’t it be easier to share your pain with someone if we knew 100% that what we told them would bring them peace and hope for their future? Some may say yes, while still others give a resounding NO! Vulnerability is hard. I know. But, what I’ve learned is to just step out once. Take a risk. Each time you do, the story gets easier and easier because nothing heals a wound faster than watching someone else heal. 

It took me 53 years to share my full story. As I began sharing, I learned how unique and miraculous it is. Over and over people would thank me for sharing, with tears in their eyes, because they too had father issues that kept them from fully engaging with a Heavenly Father. I didn’t feel special. Just a story of a little girl born to a single mom who refused to tell her who her father was. My norm. Nothing special. Until it was, by God’s grace. 

According to the CDC, in the mid-1960s, only 3.1% of white infants were born to single mothers. It was far from the norm. So, when this happened, it either happened in secret or in shame. My birth was the latter. No celebration of pregnancy while in the womb. In fact, no one knew I was in the womb! “How?” you say. Well, my mother was a large woman, and she wore big smock tops. But how?? My development. I developed high in the uterus near the rib cage. I didn’t produce much of a protruding belly. I hid, so she could hide. I sensed her shame, and I held onto it for many, many years to follow. 

Statistics say, in my school class of 150 students, I would be 1 of 4 fatherless children. I was the only one. I cringed every time someone asked me where my father was. My favorite answer was “He died in the war.” The only answer that justified my illegitimacy. So, I would ask my mom, “Where is my father?” “Who is my father?” I cannot remember an answer. I never got a real one. I knew, from a very young age, it was the question you do not ask. Mom lived in constant unwarranted fear of losing me. Unwarranted fear. How many of us live in that every day?

As much as I dreamed about my father, I never thought about him as a real person. Funny, I don’t remember people telling me who I looked like. I didn’t hear “You are the spitting image of your Mama.” I always wanted to look like my grandpa. He was a handsome fella, but I think it was my deep, intrinsic desire to link me to a father. I didn’t favor my mom, except for my eye shape and my curly hair. Never crossed my mind that I may look like my father or his side of the family. Never. He was so non-existent in my world.

So, here begins my story. A story of hidden pain and hidden shame. I hid it well. Placed in those recesses of my mind. We all have them. Those places only we know about. Places we put things too painful to tell anyone else. Things that cause so much shame we bury them deep. Until life happens and they surface. Until we have to face them. Until the day God says 

“Enough. I can’t watch you continue to do this yourself. You are my child. I love you and it grieves me to not see you healthy.” 

When that happens, we have a choice. We will face it and deal with it, or we shove it further down, refusing to give it light. Oh sister, please don’t do that. Those are the things that ruin relationships, cause cancers to grow, bring about addictions. Those are the things that hinder us from the full freedom and calling we were born to live. So tell your story. Not only to save yourself but, to save others.  Your pain. Your difficulties. Your insecurities are not for nothing. Tell your story the way that works best for you. That’s what I’ve done and we will walk this road to freedom over the next several posts that lead up to a book release!

What’s Hindering Your Love?

“For freedom, Christ set us free. Stand firm then and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

– Galatians 5:1 (CSB)

What hinders you? What keeps you from living the full life you were created to live? What keeps you from loving your neighbor? Or, as my pastor asked us recently,

“What does love require of me?”

I cannot answer these questions for you and I’m guessing a majority cannot answer them for themselves. We don’t like to think about it. It’s deep. Down in the depths of our souls. The answers to these questions. The answers hindering us to love, to live lives free. Yet we do because we fear the outcome. Our progress is slow and we are holding back living the full life that loving others bring. Afraid to let God in. Because we may have to admit we were wrong. We may have to love someone we used to judge or taught to hate. So we hide and pretend it doesn’t exist.

The first act of hiding came shortly after the creation of man. We cannot know for sure how long it took, but we can see it is in the third chapter of the Word – Eve ate, Eve shared, Adam ate, they hid. Well, that didn’t take long! Adam knew he had disappointed God. So his innate response was to hide from Him. He suffered from the guilt of exposure! From there mankind made it a way of life. A way of coping. A way to keep from disappointing God and others.

Yet, the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23a) The first wage of the first sin was the death of freedom. Adam no longer felt free to be open with God. 

He no longer felt free…

     ~ to be exposed 

     ~ to live in paradise. 

So would begin the long journey to find that freedom again. Stories of great men of God ~ Abraham, Moses, David… ~ hiding in their selfishness, abuse, self-destruction, sexuality, and I dare say greatness. Nothing is new under the sun, now is it? The same things we try to hide behind even today. The same things that hinder us from the fullness of freedom God has provided.

Today, be brave! Take time and think about what is hindering you from the fullness, from the freedom to love those around you. 

Do you disagree with their politics?
…Love them anyway…

Do you disagree with their lifestyle?
…Love them anyway…

Do you disagree with their beliefs?
…Love them anyway…

The freedom Paul spoke about in Galatians 5:1 is freedom from slavery. Christ died to break the yoke of that slavery. Whatever it may be. Oh, friend, freedom is possible and I’m so excited to take the next days, weeks, whatever it needs to be, and let the Holy Spirit lead us to find it. 

Father, even now, as I read this, may you move me beyond hindered love. Move me beyond what is holding me back so I may find fullness of love in You. Open my heart and my mind to hear from you through these simple devotions. Show me what love requires of me. Guide me into freedom. Amen!

The Conversation Starts Here…

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.

— Nelson Mandela

This website is a work in progress. Posts are coming and ideas are welcome. It is time to break free from all that hinders us to love each other as Jesus loved. Break free of racist tendencies, ideas instilled in us as youngsters by well meaning influencers. Break free of judging lifestyles we do not understand. Instead, let’s look at the one perfect love that was Jesus. It’s a start. Let’s take the first steps together.

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