So I went home this weekend. And then I came back. And it was all hard. It was hard when I first got there to adjust to the pace. My parents live this beautifully slow-paced life. Not slow as in boring, but slow as in peaceful and content. They linger over cups (and cups!) of tea, watch full TV shows, take long walks, and eat actual meals at an actual table. My Mom asked me if I was okay with having chicken for dinner multiple nights and I said, “Typically dinner for me is popcorn or mac&cheese, so chicken is great.” Give me all the chicken!
So I feel like it took me a few days to slow down, to adjust to days of no one needing me, no to-do lists other than: wake up (whenever), eat (whatever). And then I had to get on an airplane and return to “real” life, and I found myself listening to Mat Kearney on repeat and crying next to total strangers. I am sure the nice older lady next to me would have offered to listen and comfort me but she was not my mom so NO THANKS LADY.
Returning to my life felt overwhelming. I took a removed look at this life that I have created for myself and started to ask the question, “is this what I really wanted?” Ultimately I was feeling this deep responsibility to so many people, and hearing the constant reminder that I am a disappointment. I’ve been rocked recently by this idea that disappointing people isn’t a roadblock that I can work really hard to avoid, it is actually just a reality of the journey. Unavoidable. WAIT WHAT?
I have lived my entire life trying to avoid disappointing people. Sometimes I succeed for a little while, but it does keep happening. And then – because I believe it is something I can avoid – I feel like a failure when it, inevitably, does happen. Instead, now I am learning to understand that I will disappoint, and I just really have to decide who I am willing to disappoint. Woof. That does not sound appealing, but it does have a freedom ring to it.
In this overwhelming state of disappointment, God started whispering the first question He ever asked humans:
“Why are you hiding?”
God calls us to be seen. He created and intended life to be that way. Hiding only happened once sin and shame entered the world.
Here is the thing – and I think it is why I have been hiding, and why I have honestly spent about zero time with the Lord recently – the moment I step out from behind whatever it is I am hiding behind (maybe failure?), He sees me completely. That is terrifying. Regardless of whatever trees and leaves Adam and Eve attempted to cover themselves with, they were still totally seen by God in that moment.
Being seen by God is heavy and vulnerable and life-changing. When I hide I get to stay small. But when God sees me, He calls me to be more.
“Why are you hiding?” is not the question that places shame on us, it is the one that takes it off. And when we don’t wear shame we are naked and vulnerable and – us. Just completely us.
But, the question really is, what if who I am under all the things I try to make myself (perfect, capable, responsible, patient, all-loving, self-sacrificing, beautiful, dependable) isn’t good enough? Wait, what if there isn’t actually anything left? We are in full.on.crisis.mode.
But oh, the glorious truth – He made us. Before I piled and layered on any of that striving, He made me and called me good.
“Why are you hiding?” is not a death sentence, it is an invitation.
It is an invitation to take off the layers of effort and striving and proving and earning. It is an invitation to not be defined by our successes or our failures. To not feel totally wrecked by saying no or disappointing someone.
It is an invitation to know Love – in His truest form. To be seen, naked and unashamed, for exactly who I am. Because underneath all those try-hard layers? Is a soul – our very essence.
Shauna Niequist says, “Now I know that the best thing I can offer to this world is not my force or energy, but a well-tended spirit, a wise and brave soul.” (Present Over Perfect)
This idea of just stepping out from whatever it is I am hiding behind, to be seen by Jesus – to even picture it makes me cry immediately. To be seen, and in that moment to know that I am loved immediately and fully, is the most overwhelmingly beautiful experience I will ever know.
Today, step out from whatever it is you might be hiding behind. You are invited out of hiding. You are loved for exactly who you are.