"But the Lord God called to the man [Adam], 'Where are you?' He answered, 'I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.'"1
In his book, The Transparent Self, Sydney Jourard explains, "When I say that self-disclosure is a means by which one achieves personality health, I mean something like the following: it is not until I am my real self and act my real self that my real self is in a position to grow. One's self grows from the consequences of being. People's selves stop growing when they repress them."
The problem of hiding and repressing one's true self, feelings and motives goes back to the first man, Adam. When he sinned he felt guilty and exposed, so he hid himself. When God called, "Adam, where are you?" Adam replied, "I was afraid so I hid." Fearing God might condemn and/or reject him if he admitted what he did, Adam hid to defend himself.
Sin has the same effect on us all. Fearing rejection for our sins, failures, negative emotions, and false motives, we hide from God and then from other people. And, if we do this long enough, eventually we hide from ourselves until we no longer know who or what we really are. Personal growth then ceases and death as an authentic person begins.
To be fully alive and fully functioning, we need to be very much aware of the masks we hide behind and what we are hiding. Only when we face our reality; that is, our secret sins, dark side, and supercharged repressed negative emotions, and confess these to God and to at least one other trusted person, can we ever feel forgiven, free, and become authentic and real.
As they say in AA, we are as sick as our secrets. Also, it's not the truth that hurts us but letting go of the lies; that is, letting go of the masks and defenses we hide behind.
There are numerous ways we hide to avoid facing our dark side and to medicate our pain such as the following: being too busy, becoming a workaholic or even a religious-aholic, or in other addictive behaviors. We use chemical dependency, intellectualism, theological rigidity, legalism, saccharine sweetness, an austere bearing, control of others, being a super-personality, codependency, and a score of other ways. Only when we stop acting out in these self-defeating ways and face our inner pain can we ever have a chance of overcoming what we are hiding from. As Jesus reminded us, it's the truth that sets people free.2 Hiding from the truth keeps us in bondage. Furthermore, living in denial can be deadly! It can destroy relationships and take years off one's life.
The tragedy is that most of us will do absolutely anything to avoid facing our reality and feeling our pain. However, to heal it we need to feel it, admit it, own it, and bring it to Jesus, to a trusted friend and, if needed, to a qualified counselor for healing and recovery.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, please help me to be real and connected to every broken part in my life, every unresolved issue, every buried emotion, and any block in me that hurts my relationships and stops my feeling and experiencing your love and affirmation at the very core of my being. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus' name, amen."
1. Genesis 3:9-10 (NIV).
2. John 8:32.