Hiding in the Spiritual Life
One of the tragic effects of original sin is that we tend to hide from God. As soon as Adam and Eve sinned, they felt both naked and ashamed. They covered themselves with fig leaves and hid behind the trees. The more I grow in my relationship with God, the more I have become aware of my own tendency to cover myself with figurative fig leaves and hide. And I venture to say that you, as a person living with the effects of Adam and Eve’s sin, may, with a bit of introspection, find that you have a similar tendency.
Our way of hiding is often much more subtle than putting on extra clothing and ducking behind a tree. We have become masters of it so much so that we can even hide from ourselves the fact that we are hiding!
I’ll give you a couple examples of what my sort of hiding looks like. I discovered a tendency in myself to pray only when I felt “worthy.” I may realize that I am struggling in a certain area and so I don’t feel fit to appear before God. Perhaps I have angry feelings toward a family member or thoughts of pride. Rather than opening my heart as it is to God, I would try to prepare for prayer by fixing my problem on my own–I don’t like the idea of God seeing that anger or pride in my heart so I try shoving those thoughts away with my own strength and then begin my prayer. The trouble is, of course, that without Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:5). He alone is the Divine Physician. My thinking I can fix myself and then appear perfect before the Lord is nothing short of ludicrous!
Another way I find myself hiding is in the vague way in which I apologize to someone I hurt and/or confess my sins. Say, for example, I lost my temper. When I apologize, I may simply say, “I’m sorry I lost my temper,” which is a rather vague statement that can actually serve to hide the ugly things I did during that loss of temper. If I were to say, “I am sorry that I threw something across the room and screamed at the top of my lungs,” I would be revealing the truth about what I did. This same vagueness or honesty can be brought to the confessional. I have learned that the more honestly and fully I expose my sickness to the Divine Physician, the more quickly and easily He heals me.
This one simple word has recently transformed my spiritual life: expose. When I expose everything in me to the Father, He sends His Holy Spirit to heal. When I notice something (e.g. stress, anger, pride, fear) disturbing my heart, I simply turn to Him, and say, “Look, Father, this is what is in my heart right now. I open it up to You.” When I first began this practice, I was almost surprised at the way God worked in me. I had, for example, been hiding my thoughts of pride because I was ashamed of them and afraid of what God would think of them. But when I began exposing them to Him, they just melted away, as an ice cube would on being exposed to the hot summer sun. I also realized that God is not at all shocked by my sinfulness: “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). I even sense that we are both laughing a bit as He melts away the disturbances of my heart that I thought I had to fight without end with my own (very weak) power.
In exposing ourselves constantly to God, He sends His healing and peace. The healing may be immediate, as in my example of my pride melting like an ice cube before His gaze, or it may take some time. But the healing certainly begins when we open our hearts as they are to Him. This is a truth that the Evil One tries very hard to hide from us. The Evil One will whisper any lie he can to keep you from exposing your heart to your Father. The lies may sound like this: “You’re not good enough to talk to God;” “You’re so weak, no one can help you;” “You got yourself into this mess, you better figure out how to get yourself out;” “If anyone knew what you were really like, nobody would love you. So you need to just put on a good face.” When you hear these things in your heart, expose them to God! He will reveal them as the lies they are. He may lead you to renounce in Jesus’ name whichever lie is keeping you from Him. And then I pray that, with confidence in God’s great love for you, you will be free to expose your heart to Him continually and receive His healing continually.
By Clare Schiller