We’re one of a kind. We’re beautiful. Do you believe that? Yet, so many of us struggle with daring to be real. The problem with hiding is that all the potential within us gets buried, too.
Hiding is nothing new to the human race; it began in the Garden of Eden. Once Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, their eyes were opened and they knew they were naked. Shocked by the result of their rash decision, they panicked. What should they do? Their first inclination was to hide—but to hide from whom? They were the only two people. Ironically, they thought it necessary to hide from God. Frightened, they frantically searched the garden for a covering; finding fig leaves, they quickly gathered a bunch, sewed them together, and put them on. They must have thought God wouldn’t notice . . . Nevertheless, as the story goes, they could not conceal their location or their shame. Their Creator knew right where they were and what they had done.
Genesis 3 frames the first great “cover up” of mankind. Hiding didn’t work then and it doesn’t work now. Jeremiah 23:24 tells us, “‘Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?’ says the LORD. ‘Do I not fill heaven and earth?’ says the LORD.” Simply stated, we cannot hide from God. However, we do think we can hide from people and as a result we wear the masks society expects from us; like the macho image “Men are not supposed to cry . . .” no matter what they are going through. “Women must have careers to be considered successful . . .” even if they are content to stay home and raise their children. Then there are those who work a job solely for monetary gain or prestige, though stress consumes their every waking moment. Trying to keep up with changing fashions is another disguise. If we were completely honest with ourselves, some of the styles we sport simply don’t suit our personalities or help our image. These are just a few of the things we do to impress those around us, yet seldom do we consider the cost.
By embracing popular or accepted behaviors, we forego our God-given right to be unique and we lose sight of things that have lasting value. Our society is fickle— images, fashions, trends, and fame are ever changing. So why do we place our trust, or validate our worth, by the instability of such things, especially when God promises security? “For I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).
The serpent tricked Eve into thinking she was not good enough the way God made her. Giving into this lie, she ate the forbidden fruit, but her action did not make her wiser or a better person. On the contrary, it activated the process of sickness, pain, toil, heartache, and death. The real problem arises from not being pleased with God’s design, causing us to conform our image to worldly standards and empty promises. If we succumb to Eve’s temptation of personal gain and earthly approbation, it weakens our witness and puts restraints on our ability to represent the image of God. We must be genuine with people if we want to show them the love of Jesus.
Unfortunately, some Christians even feel pressured to sport a mask at church, not willing or able to admit they need help with any of life’s issues. Many feel they must demonstrate total control of every emotion, even if disaster strikes. Yet God took the time to record the flaws and passions of His people in the Bible so we could relate to His Word and the people He chose to use. It lifts the burden of thinking or feeling like we could never measure up.
I’m not talking about putting every feeling on public display. We need to control our emotions and learn to work through difficulties; but to hide our true temperament behind what is not real can be detrimental to the artistic nature within us. Authentic creative expression is impossible without coming to terms with who we really are and accepting the fact that we may feel vulnerable at times. While pretending, we imprison ourselves and the Spirit of God has no liberty to intervene; good emotions intertwine with the bad, and creativity is stifled along with our health and emotional well-being. Believing God created us with unique character traits and changeable emotions is invaluable because this enables us to use our God-given talents to their fullest potential.
Keep in mind, everyone experiences insecurities. The very ones we are looking to for affirmation may have their own desire for approval or acceptance and they are responding to us out of a personal need rather than noticing ours. Besides, people can be very inconsistent, sometimes acknowledging our efforts, while on other occasions overlooking them. I’m sure we’ve all done this at times, yet it’s not fair to put such pressures on each other by trying to figure out every response to every action. This needlessly causes confusion, whereby making us susceptible to rejection instead of confident in God.