Come Out of Hiding This Holiday Season
- Cliff Young Contributing Writer
- 2006 1 Dec
I have always admired people who could act; people who could transform themselves into another character; people who could portray another person so vividly that even had I known the actor personally, I would not have recognized him. Great actors make it look so easy, so effortless.
I often think that, if given the opportunity and the right parts, I could become a good actor. I have never delved into acting professionally or even as a hobby, but I have done my share of it over the years. We all have, whether it was “on a stage” or not.
There are many great actors out there who never step on a stage, get in front of a camera, or stand before an audience. A lot of the best actors in the world are those who walk through the doors of a church, trying to portray something that they are not, hiding behind ministry and church-going as their character.
Our “performance” comes when we are approached by friends, family, and even strangers inquiring about how we are doing, what’s going on in our life, and how our relationship is with the Lord. We portray someone who has it together, living life to the fullest, doing everything that we are meant to do and praising the Lord at every step. But when the curtains close, when the audience leaves, and when the lights go out, we retreat to the backstage of our lives, often hiding our true feelings.
My most challenging performances come during the holidays, seeing people I haven’t seen in awhile or meeting new people at gatherings and functions. I am reminded of those things that I didn’t accomplish, those goals that I wasn’t able to reach, and those parts of me that I didn’t change. The words “fine” and “good” are usually the answer to the many questions that I am asked, when it is all but “fine” and “good.”
As singles, it’s easy to hide, easy to retreat, easy to act. Oftentimes we are only “personally” interacting with a few people each day and we are able to slowly build a wall around ourselves, one brick at a time. It almost becomes second nature and a part of being “self-sufficient” and independent to go through the day as if everything is alright, taking care of everything ourselves, but in reality burying another part of ourselves under a layer of another day.
But if we, as singles, expose ourselves and reveal that we’re not doing well or that we’re struggling with something, we risk being looked upon as not having it together or being discontent in our singleness. As a result, we end up hiding our feelings or trying to be what we think others think we should be.
John and Stasi Eldredge, in their book "Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul" (yes, I read it and I admit it), states, “If we continue to hide, much will be lost. We cannot have intimacy with God or anyone else if we stay hidden and offer only who we think we ought to be or what we believe is wanted.”
Adam hid when he was afraid (I heard you, so I hid – Genesis 3:10).
The men with Daniel hid when they were afraid (The men with me saw nothing, but they were suddenly terrified and ran away to hide – Daniel 10:7).
Aaron when pressured, made an idol for the people to worship (Then Aaron took the gold, melted it down, and molded and tooled it into the shape of a calf – Exodus 32:4).
Nathaniel Hawthorne, the 19th century American novelist and author of "The Scarlet Letter," once said, “No man, for any considerable period of time, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the truth.”
A couple of years ago, I reached that point during a Christmas holiday. I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone, without interacting with anyone. It was partially by choice, partially due to weather conditions (I was snowed in], and partially a need to spend time alone with the Lord.
Through my isolation, I had only the Lord to look to. I slowly came out from behind my wall, sat quietly in the warmth of His love and shared my heart with the Lord, but more importantly, I listened for His voice.
I can’t say that I “heard Him audibly” or “received implicit instructions on my future,” but I can say that I felt that He smiled at me. And, when I turned back to live behind my wall, it looked a whole lot different, not as “homey” as it used to be. My “fine” and “good” were no longer that, and my “expected” performance was no longer my goal. I found that I needed to remodel my “home” and tear down those walls and open myself up to more “spiritual” light.
The Lord calls each one of us as He did with Adam, “… where are you?” (Genesis 3:9). Are you going to answer Him?
Take a look around. Are your walls closing in? Do you feel isolated? Do you feel alone, not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually? Maybe it’s time for you to make some “home improvements.” Maybe the sharing that we are so used to hearing about this time of year means sharing of ourselves (more deeply) with others.
Before you buy one more gift or put up one more decoration, take a moment to unwrap a present – the one that God gave us thousands of years ago. He waits patiently for you to open the gift of His Son and receive His love. He wants you to be who you were created to be. And not an actor "on a stage" in the story of your life.
Cliff Young is a contributing writer to "Sandlot Stories" (ARose Books). An architect and former youth worker, he now works with Christian musicians and consults for a number of Christian ministries. Got feedback? Send your comments and questions to [email protected].