Don’t Hide Your True Self
We all want people to think well of us. Do you find yourself hiding your past, (even your present) from others? Why do we do this? Maybe we think we aren’t good enough. Maybe we are ashamed of some of the things we have done/are doing. Maybe we think people will shun us if they truly know us.
Maybe we aren’t proud of the fact we drink too much and use drugs. Maybe we wish we had waited until we were married to have children. Maybe we wish we had not chosen to party and had actually done our school work and graduated from high school/college. The truth is, we all have something to hide. That mother who looks so pulled together as she walks into church with her three little cherubs, may have been screaming at them in the car on the way to church. The man who looks so good leaving for work in his button-down shirt and jacket may be meeting his mistress at a sleazy motel at lunchtime. The teen with straight A’s may be molested nightly by a step-father. None of us is perfect, and we all have things about ourselves and our past we would like to hide from the world.
One of the reasons I write about domestic violence, and about my own experience with it, is to get real. As a society, we don’t want to think that people WE ACTUALLY KNOW are even now committing domestic violence and sexual abuse against their partners and children. In the same way, we don’t want to think about little children who have been trafficked who are being used as sex slaves. How can we sleep at night if we dwell on these truths? IMPOSSIBLE!
But the truth is, domestic violence is a fact, child sexual abuse is a fact and human trafficking is as well. We don’t need to tell the entire world about all the awful things that have happened to us, but we also don’t need to hide them.
What is the fruit of all our hiding?
When we hide our true selves from others, we are never truly known.
We find ourselves lying about the things we are ashamed of. We realize our relationships are very shallow and fake, and we get to the point we don’t even care to be around people we think won’t like our true selves.
A larger concern is that if you and I aren’t real, we encourage those around us to not be real either. This helps an entire community/society to be fake and shallow. Each person is walking around ashamed of their past/present and lying about it to those who would be able to understand, care, and help.
When we refuse to be real with other people, we often try to hide from God as well. We choose not to pray, and not to go to church because of our fear and shame. Is YAHWEH the type of God who shuns you when you mess up? Hmm. Let’s see. Jesus is God in the flesh.
Did he shun the down and out? No.
- When the Pharisees found a woman caught in adultery (by the way, where was the man she was caught with?) and brought her to Jesus so he would stone her, what did he do? He said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” When all the woman’s accusers left, he asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:1-11)
- When the town slut interrupted the meal Jesus was having with the “important” people of the town, Jesus honored her. (Luke 7:36-50)
- When a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years (making her ceremonially “unclean”, and no one could touch her) touched Jesus’ robe in a crowd, he stopped everything to find her. After he found her and heard her story, he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:25-34)
Ok, so Jesus was loving and caring. Does that mean all his followers will be? Will every person you meet in every church treat you with kindness, love, and not condemn you and your choices? Sadly, no. Because we are all sinners, churchgoers are sinners as well. You may need to try a few different churches before you find one that is generally filled with grace-giving people. Even there, you may bump into some who will condemn you. At the same time, you will find people who may condemn you everywhere you go, on public transportation, in the grocery store, in your own family. We can’t get away from people like this. In my experience, people who have truly received the grace of Jesus are the most grace-giving people on earth. They realize they are also sinners, and Jesus has forgiven them much.
My encouragement today is to BE REAL. Take a risk and tell others and God the truth about your choices and experiences. As we do this, we will feel less shame, and begin to accept ourselves and our choices, freeing us from our own condemnation.
Question: Do you find yourself hiding from others because you are afraid what they will say? Do you condemn yourself? What can you do to free yourself today?
May you feel the love and grace from God, other people and yourself today.