Finding God- 2

There are all kinds of ways to hide.  Some people stay out of sight; others hide in plain sight.  Some people conceal themselves behind anger and bravado, others behind helplessness.   Some people hide by lying to others and other people hide by lying to themselves.  Some use the truth to lie.  In their hands, truthfulness becomes camouflage.  Some people don’t realize they’re hiding.  Some people think they’re hiding when they aren’t.

We don’t think about it much, because that’s what you do when you hide, but we spend a lot of our lives concealing stuff.  Think about what you don’t want people to know, and how much energy is devoted to interpersonal stealth technology designed to mask those things.  We’re adept at disguises and role playing.  As a pastor and a counselor, I came to know many people who’s private actions bore no resemblance to their public personas.  Who would have guessed that long-time church trustee, choir member, and leading contributor performed oral sex on his son?  No one.  He was universally liked.

As a pastor and counselor, the same was true for me.  I’d minister to people and then go home to arguments or indulge in infidelity.  All roles serve as disguises, and disguises are how we hide.  Effective ones involve praise from others, allowing you to hide inside the respect of someone else.  No one suspects the worst and you get to feel justified.

Of course, the very best disguise is when you no longer recognize using one.  Even if other people see through the costume, you don’t notice, and so avoid a lot of the conscious stress that hiding normally entails.  Acting can be exhausting; how much easier to simply forget the performance involved.  We hide from the fact that we’re hiding.

Unfortunately, when you hide from the fact that you’re hiding, you also tend to forget what you didn’t want to remember.  We lose touch with ourselves.  We no longer notice how we avoid things, like a peculiar form of amnesia, and end up in a state the Bible describes as lost.  We can’t know where we’re going if we can’t see where we won’t go.  You can’t know the truth about anything else if you can’t admit the truth about you.

It’s one thing to hide from other people.  Our efforts at concealing ourselves cause enormous amounts of interpersonal pain and conflict.  They get us into bad relationships and ruin good ones.  We’ll literally harm ourselves before stepping naked into the light of day.  I’ve known people who died, rather than honestly deal with themselves.

It’s another thing to hide from God.  Hiding from God is the original sin.  Adam and Eve were crouching behind a bush when God came to visit, after adopting the popular fig leaf camouflage pattern, overnighted to them from Cabelas.  Nothing has been the same since.  God seems far away or nowhere at all, and people don’t realize it has nothing to do with God.  God is where God has always been.  We’re the ones with our heads beneath a rock and our butts in the air.

The good news is that the answer is simple.  If you want to find God, stop hiding.  Put all of yourself on the examining table.  Parts can be unpleasant, but I haven’t always been a pleasant guy.  My bad choices are as important as my good ones, if I’m looking to know myself, or be known.  Fig leaves and disguises get in the way, because we intentionally don’t want to be found.

Letting go of it all, of course, can be far from simple.  We may have a lot invested in a particular view of ourselves.  A lot of people say they want to find God, or that they have found God, without having ever really begun.  Nevertheless, the truth isn’t complicated.  When you stop hiding, God will find you.

About Bucky Dann

I teach religion, sociology, and psychology at Southwestern Community College in the Smoky Mountains. I have worked in the United Methodist ministry and in the substance abuse field. I possess a Masters of Divinity, a Masters of Philosophy, and a PhD in the sociology of knowledge.

2 Responses to “Finding God- 2”

  1. I like the idea that people are always putting out a persona that is different then who they really are. It is true for most of us. However . . . can we really hide from God? Or are we just hiding from ourselves when we try to hide from God?

  2. How do you know if you are hiding? I get the lying person. I get the person who lives a hypocritical life is hiding behind secrets. I get hiding behind anger and emotions, even depression. Grownups sometimes forget to hide from children. I remember how some officially respected people in my community and church were different in front of adults than they were to the children. The very best disguise is when you no longer recognize using one; I can see how living in anger or emotions as your hiding place could be this type of disguise. I think I have been guilty of this. And yes, the effective hiding roles do seem to get praise from others. Are they just that good at lying? I did not know that hiding from God is the original sin. Put all of yourself on the examining table…For who? People don’t like to know who you really are, they like the made up persona. Buckey I know that you’re not God, you can’t know all the answers. How do you keep your belief system straight knowing all that you do about the world’s different beliefs on God? I have not felt doubt, and still don’t about being OK with a superior being and creation, with death and dying and knowing that I am OK there. What about the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost? What about doubt in the trinity?

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