The Harmful Effects of Hiding
“God cannot guide us, teach us, or counsel us if we are hiding, not because he is unable, but because we are unavailable.”
Children love to play the game Hide and Seek. It is fun for them to find the perfect hiding place that they think will protect them from the one who is trying to find them. As an adult, I can also play a hiding game in the form of self-protection. When I am fearful that my true self will be discovered, judged, and rejected, I hide who I really am as a form of protection. I may withhold the worst of my story and my brokenness, to be who others want me to be. Though just like smoking is hazardous to our physical health, so too hiding is harmful to our souls and our relationships with God and others.
The harmful effects of hiding include isolation. It is a natural reaction to hide from God after I have sinned, like Adam and Eve’s shameful response to their disobedience. But all that does is keep us distant from God, whereas confession of and repentance from sin, restores our relationship with Him. We do not need to protect ourselves in God’s presence because He unconditionally loves and accepts us and encourages us to go to Him just as we are. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
When we feel inadequate and not good enough, we hide our imperfections from others. We think that erecting walls around our hearts will help us but eventually, it hurts us. Hiding robs us of having close relationships with others. And when we hide from ourselves, we hinder heart transformation from occurring. David Benner in Surrender to Love, writes, “Daring to accept myself and receive love for who I am in my nakedness and vulnerability is the indispensable precondition for genuine transformation.”
Hiding is a trust issue. When I self-protect, I am saying I only trust in myself, not in the other person or in God. Trust, though, is the foundation for healthy relationships. If we won’t trust others by being vulnerable, then we will experience loneliness.
Vulnerability and trusting God to be our protector are the remedies for hiding and the solution for spiritual and emotional maturity. Being vulnerable and sharing our hearts with a safe person and with God is helpful and leads us to freedom, whereas hiding hurts and keeps us in bondage.
“The wall of invulnerability not only keeps me hidden, but it keeps the fullness of experienced love out.”
1. Where are you hiding from God, others, or yourself?
2. How can you be vulnerable and allow God to protect you?