For over a year, I have been bombarded with a truth that escaped me for much of my life. It’s not that I didn’t KNOW it was true. I just didn’t fully EXPERIENCE it in my life. Here is one way to describe this truth…
God desires that we not hide from Him…or each other. He wants us to live in the light rather than darkness (wordage used in 1 John 1).
Hiddenness is a disease that plagues most of us on a daily basis. It eats at our souls and skewers our relationships. Adam and Eve hid in the Garden of Eden when they put on the fig leaves and refused to take responsibility for what they had done. We hide when loved ones ask how we are, and we say “okay!” when we are anything but. We struggle with things we feel shame about and keep it all a secret, hoping no one ever finds out, only to find out over and over that we continually lose the battle we attempt to fight on our own. We get discouraged. We feel hopeless. But we keep on keeping on…with our “I’m okay” or “he made me do it!” masks on.
Another couple of verses popped up at me, suggesting that secrets are no good for us.
In Ephesians 4:25 (ESV), Paul says this: “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.”
It’s easy to misinterpret this line as a command to “tell others when they are doing wrong”. We tell ourselves we are “loving them” when we tell them about their bad behaviors and suggest that they do something about it. Some of us may even feel a little more righteous having done so. We couldn’t be further from the truth.
What if this verse was more about telling the truth ABOUT ME to others, rather than telling what I see as the truth about them? This would line up more with other passages such as 1 John 1 which tells us to live in the light (with nothing hidden), in order to have healthy relationships (fellowship).
What is visible can be resolved and transformed.
Ephesians 5:11-14 also speaks of the importance of exposing the things we keep in the dark to the light that “exposes” and makes it all “become visible” so that it can be transformed into light itself. I can work hard to keep my struggles a secret, and I can work hard to handle them myself. However, according to Bill Thrall, “Heart issues do not get resolved in isolation”. We need God’s power to handle what we cannot handle, and we cannot handle our own sin…let alone the sin of others!
Once our dark deeds are exposed to the light, which often means confiding in someone who loves and cares for us, the humility that it takes for us to do so becomes the avenue by which we experience God’s grace (James 4:6). This grace is what resolves sin issues, whether we’ve been hurt by others or whether we’ve done something to hurt others (which results in guilt that eats away at us if left in the dark). Gifts of grace such as forgiveness (that resolves hurt and shame) and repentance (that resolves guilty feelings and shame) are thrown around as common words in Christian circles, but we often fail at engaging them seriously in our relationships. If we are hiding stuff, we aren’t embracing these gifts of grace!
Tell your secrets and experience grace.
When I live out of who God says I am (a new identity in Christ, forgiven, accepted, and above all else…LOVED), I am able to step out of the darkness and into the light with God and others. I can share myself, the good and the bad….openly. I can be authentic!
Everyone does not get to share in our deepest struggles, but someone needs to. We need to trust someone. We do not even get to experience the act of being loved outside of trust, so this is very important stuff! If we leave an “I’m okay” mask on, the best others can do is love that stupid mask! We don’t need our masks to be loved. We need to be loved for who we are, even in our worst moments…not praised for who we pretend to be.
I’m engaging this truth myself.
I sense it is important for me to say this. I am fully engaged in this truth right now. I’m not perfect…just ask my wife or my son or my parents or anyone else that really knows the true Neil. However, refusing to hide anything about myself from those I trust and love is doing something in me. It is wonderful. Mind you, it is painful and difficult at times, but it is worth it. I can say I’ve personally experienced this and the freedom that comes from it. The authenticity it produces is amazing. God truly loves to work through humility (defined as “trusting Him and others with who we really are”).
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