When I was a small child, we played some great hide and go seek games in the basements of our Wisconsin homes. Partially finished basements coupled with stacked boxes made for ideal hiding places during winter time playing. Years later a group of teens taught me to play an advanced version of hide and go seek called “sardines.” Hiding is fun for little kids and even teenagers, but it can lethal for adults.
Adults are notorious for hiding behind the cover of shame and brokenness. Even the hearts of close friends often remain secluded. They are afraid to come out in the open and reveal the things in their lives that continue cause them to feel shameful. In contrasting shame with guilt, Rubel Shelly in a recent article made this observation: Shame is a very different thing. It is a self-judgment that no longer sees a lie, a marital infidelity, or a criminal act as a sinful behavior but wears it now as an identity. It can’t be dealt with in terms of what you did; you drag it around with you to let it be who you are. That particular fact is what troubles me. I am afraid there a lot of people dragging a shameful identity around with them as a constant companion. I am not the only one concerned.
Anne Jackson recently published a book entitled: Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace. It is a good book. I like Ms. Jackson’s writing style. She has composed a book that is probably targeted at members of the Millennial Generation, but I sure appreciated its message. And based on what I have observed on facebook, I think she is just a really cool lady.
Here are some thoughts she conveys in the book that I plan to share with the church Sunday in my sermon:
Shame tells us to keep those ugly, messy parts hidden. Without our secrets showing, maybe then we can be accepted.
1. If a fracture in part of our lives threatens our reputations, our character, or our dignity, we hide…
2. If something in our spiritual life is broken or confusing to us, we hide.
3. If a relationship is broken, we hide.
4. If there’s unhealthy habit we fall back on, we hide.
Is she right? I know she right. I see it as a minister every week. A person faces serious struggles and they drop off the face of the earth. They don’t want to come to church or talk to their friends. I appreciate the obvious need for privacy during a personal crisis, but when we hide it is not healthy.
What is the answer? Should we disallow emotional hide and go seek? That is not going to work. I don’t have any definitive answers, but I do have a few ideas. Read Anne Jackson’s book as a starting point… And tomorrow I will follow up with a few more ideas on this needed subject.