Around the third or fourth grade, I remember playing Monsters in the Dark. I was at my brother’s friend’s house and the lights were all out and we would play hide and seek in the dark. I hated being the person seeking because I not only enjoyed finding a good hiding spot in the dark, but I was good at it. However, no matter how good at hiding I was, I hated waiting in the dark. There’s an anxiousness in waiting to be found. And it was alone in the small spaces that the darkness seemed to envelope me in an almost mystical way that turned furniture into monsters and shadows into demons.
Now that I am an adult, I still hate the darkness; whether it is physical, spiritual, or emotional darkness. Having hidden in that darkness, calling the shadows my friends, I can more easily recognize when I begin to sink into those spaces, begging for someone to find me but not feeling able to call out for help.
Just like the game, hiding is unique to each person- to find that one spot that no one knows about or knowing just how to position yourself so that you blend into the darkness.
One of those spaces I have found to hide is in busyness. Being so busy that I do not have time to really be known, thus creating a safety zone of friendliness that provides an illusion of connection without any real relationship. Or, I use it as a reason to jump in and out of commitments. In some regards, my busyness has become a sort of safekeeping providing a barrier of protection to rely on. Even today, I swept in and out of church making sure to not stop moving long enough to really talk with anyone; giving the impression that I was needed to accomplish tasks and the vibe that the importance was too great to slow down.
One of the ways I used to hide was to shut off, shut out, and shut down. I would literally fold in on myself until I was on my floor or bed in the fetal position. I still struggle against this reaction. To play and replay events in my head trying to find a way to sort it out and find some understanding mentally so it feels manageable emotionally. This is a frustrating way to hide- behind intellect and psychobabble.
There are a lot of ways I hide and there is reason for this: fear. Fear of being hurt. Fear of being a dissapointment or being disapointed. Fear of not being right. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of being capable/successful.
But reason does not equal excuse and fear is not an excuse to hide. If it was, then it would be acceptable to remain as I used to be and God loves me too much to leave me as I am. He has called me out of hiding in the darkness. He has called me into the light. In so many areas, he has acknowledged my reasons but has not let them excuse me from his call.
He has called me to be known. I do not yet know what this looks like, but I am finding this day by day. In the interactions with my roommates first thing in the morning when I cannot filter out the rough edges of my natural tendencies. In my work as many of my fears and joys are interwoven throughout the day and my coworkers experience the truer versions of myself breaking through. In ministry as I work with amazing women and a great staff who see my desire for control trump my struggle to relate.
In all of these places, I have been called to come out of hiding in the dark. In doing so, in that fear and risk, I have experienced responses of grace that overwhelm my tired heart and renew my anxious mind.