Hiding is instinct.
Because we feel wrong, because we we’ve done wrong, because we’re afraid.
Because the world is full of devils. And temptation. And deception. And hurt.
Because our eyes have been opened to our flaws. Our tragic flaws . . . hamartia.* His. Hers.
And we cannot close them again.
Our own skin is suddenly not enough. We are not enough. Exposure stabs, air stings. Branches scratch arms, stones gash bare feet, thorns stick, send shivers through us and stay.
We hide, attempt to make covers for ourselves with beautiful things, with leaves hastily sewn together to mask our acutely aware, raw selves. Alive and yet aching, free and yet cut off.
* * * * *
November 14th is an anniversary.
October, 2007 I dared to hope, as we approached the six month mark this time. Dave was in a 12 Step program. We both attended weekly meetings. With support and encouragement, I was slowly letting go of his recovery.
For months, I had been exposed to what dropping masks really looks like, and I began to long for real freedom myself. Not just in weekly meetings, but in all of my life.
I copied this quote into my journal from a book I’d been reading:
“Hiding is a curse. It came into being after the fall. Hiding is motivated by shame. It involves pretending and deceiving. Hiding is the place of fear and anxiety. . . . Imagine what your life would be like if all pretense were to vanish from it. Imagine the freedom and relief of not trying to convince anyone that you were smarter or better than you are.”– John Ortberg
I spent October digging deep, pulling out hurts, wrongs, pain — writing them down, discerning what hurts were of my own making and needed confession and which were not my fault in any way but for which I felt responsible. It was a slow, painful bleed. But saying them aloud, calling each one by name, letting go of crushing sense of responsibility for sins that were not mine, admitting and confessing aloud the ones that were . . . it was so very freeing. Secrets, dragged into the light, were relieved of their power. That was November 5th.
Nine days later, Dave came to me to confess. He had been using again, made terrible choices, lost his job and our home.
Every page of that journal and the next is filled with mourning, with letting go and letting fall — a season of stripping away, sorting through shame, wrestling with bitterness. Until Dave told his story of addiction and healing to our church — eight months later — and I began to finally feel free.
Each month then and each year now is a milestone to celebrate.
He’s made it well past six months to six years.
* * * * *
Eastward of Eden, the world glows shades of amber.
Windblown chaff of evergreens sprinkles pavement gold. Yellow-brown pathways lead home.
Wind plucks, swirls golden leaves . . . suspends, whisks in dry needles . . . lets all fall, flickering in sunlight.
Stick figure silhouettes cling to dangling color that remains . . . dropping one by one . . . leaving them exposed, leafless.
Behind the house, autumn transforms woods, uncovers mountains beyond sea. Beside the house, neighbors, once voices hid by forest wall, take on form and face.
The woods betray us. We are vulnerable.
* * * * *
A friend comes to visit. We laugh about this world — neither of us natives — you never know what the trees hide. Til winter, forests conceal beautiful views . . . and rusted cars, and rotting couches, and old toilets . . .
Woods are good for hiding all sorts of unwanted . . . until naked trees reveal brokenness.
Sometimes you don’t see the mess until the leaves die.
Ah, but the stripping of leaves is only for a season.
And better coverings are being made.
* * * * *
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:1-3
* In literature, hamartia is a tragic flaw. In Scripture, sin.
** Step 4 We made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Step 5 We admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.