Picture a little girl hiding behind a curtain, cautiously peeking out, terrified of being discovered where she doesn’t belong…even though it’s her own birthday party. Laughter and music invited her to join in the celebration.
Yet she couldn't. She didn’t belong there and didn’t deserve a party. Her Dirty Deeds stained her soul, and she knew no one would stay if they only knew how awful she was.
For decades I was that little girl. I feared rejection, so I hid the Dirty Deeds behind justification (“I did it because…”), excuses (“that’s just the way I am”), more excuses (“it’s not my fault”), blame (“if you didn’t, I wouldn’t have had to…”), and even lies (“nope, I didn’t do that”). I was terrified my thoughts and actions would reveal how unlovable I was. I knew that if I let others see the “real me”, no way they would still love me.
So I hid. I talked about what people wanted to hear. I gave the opinions I thought would be acceptable, or stayed silent. I put on a happy face and pretended all was well. I watched and observed. I didn’t feel like anyone really knew or understood me, even my family. But I didn’t care; I was safe behind my self-constructed fortress.
Then the Lord pursued me, caught me, and began to change me from the inside out.
Hiding became lonely. My fortress became a prison. I began to desire being known, yet I still feared rejection.
God knew exactly what I needed.
Over the years, He helped me reveal myself to people He knew loved me. I could confess anything to them and they still loved me. I knew God forgave my sin and loved me unconditionally. But the acceptance and love from people who heard me confess a sin, then looked me in the eye and told me I was still lovable, fueled my courage to come out of hiding.
How? I don’t remember exactly. But looking back, I remember a few key discoveries.
- Who am I to withhold myself from anyone? God created me just as I am, to love and be loved. Self-protection is a sin.
- How can I, or any of us, truly love others if we can’t accept and love ourselves, warts and all, and allow God to love us through others? The fact that He loves me so much despite my sins and weaknesses is amazing. I guess that’s why they call it “amazing grace” – it truly is!
- I could not receive grace, or mercy, as long as I justified, reasoned, rationalized, or excused away my sins. I had to get everything out in the open with the truth. The only way to freedom that empowered me to love others was to completely admit sins and receive forgiveness…and forgive myself.
- Anything I held back became that one thing the enemy used to taunt me: “Well, of course they love you, that’s because they don’t know ________. If they knew that, they’d be gone in a heartbeat.”
I could wish I learned this and started walking in freedom many years ago. But then again, I wouldn’t be who I am today if any one thing in my life was different.
So I’m thankful for my years behind the fortress, and for all I’m still learning about staying free.
Mostly, I’m thankful to be me!
TODAY'S CHALLENGE: If you're hiding, ask the Lord to lead you out. If you're free, be thankful...and ask God to show you someone you can help.