The causes and effects of the four things in life we hide from.
As a little kid, I placed a high value on harmony and sought to find the good in everyone. I wanted to live in a pre-fallen world, like a Thomas Kincade Christmas painting where lambs exist only among lambs and never among wolves. On one hand, the desire led me to gravitate towards kindness and good citizenship skills. On the other hand, when faced with reality, I became a “hide-a-holic.”
We can trace hiding back to Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve hid in the garden because they were naked and afraid. People have been hiding, and for the most part wearing clothes, ever since. Today, people hide from a number of things, but I’ll cover just four of the reasons below and illustrate with a few personal examples.
- Pain: Sometimes it can be scary to show up to our life as it aired in “real time.” For much of my childhood, I thought I was basically a human television set with the power of personal remote control. Anytime painful came up, I’d hit mute, change the channel, and maybe TiVo the tears for later. Around the quarter life mark, however, I found out that in order to grow up, you eventually have to catch up on your own episodes. And no one wants to get stuck in life because they’re still watching 90s reruns of “Me. Wounded and Lost” season 5.
- Inadequacy: If performance alone dictates the hope and confidence forecast, then hiding becomes almost reflexive in times of perceived inadequacy. In my case, it was typically numerical. Whether a bank statement, the scale or a test score posted online—if I didn’t think it would be “good enough,” I simply wouldn’t look. Indeed, at times this drove my classmates crazy. It’s hard to compete with a student who doesn’t know the score.
- Conflict: While interacting with conflict does invite acute discomfort initially, it’s far less painful than the ticking time bomb of sweeping things under the rug. In my younger and slightly more naive days, if someone brought to my attention red flags in the context of a relationship interest, I practiced optimistic avoidance. Rather than listen closely, evaluate the issue, and maybe confront the person, I became voluntarily colorblind and just focused more on their green flags. This can work in the short term. But hidden conflict is like the tortoise in the race with the hare; it always catches up.
- Passion: While it sounds counterintuitive, we automatically step into a higher tier of vulnerability when owning what we are actually passionate about. For example, up until about last year, I kept the wordsmith part of me safely hidden in the creative closet of my password protected word processor. Dozens of decent documents sat dormant and away from the world’s potential criticism. Unsurprisingly, however, I felt misunderstood a lot, as though hardly anyone knew the real me. I was like a Dr. Seuss character hiding inside the onesie of proper Plymouth pilgrim.
The scary thing is, if you habitually hide from darkness, you might not even notice the gradual dimming of your light. Those desires, dreams, and ideas don’t die, they just get tired of being ignored and go to sleep. And then you walk around trying to fight for the Kingdom like a zombie in a onesie—wondering why you’re just not feeling it. Well, simply put: when you hide from the battle, then you hide from the victory.
In the final analogy, picture yourself as a potato. If you hide a potato in a dark pantry then gross gnarly sprouts will grow from the bad eyes you never gouged out. But if you bring the potato to the table, peel away the old skins, prune it with sharp iron tools, anoint it with oil, refine it in fire, and completely cover it with Jesus the true salt of the earth, the potato is redeemed to French fries…. And, the starchy vegetables of your labor, transform into comfort food to share with many.