A woman posted this bit of news on her Facebook feed: “I’m taking a break from Facebook to not get distracted while I work on some important personal goals. I’ll be back! ” She then suspended her account as promised. Later, a friend wanted to message her about a family event but couldn’t find her account. The woman’s sister advised the friend that she’d deleted her account. Another sibling saw this and was immediately annoyed. “Why did you have to make a big deal about it? It’s nobody’s business!”
Another woman and her husband have worked hard and enjoy financial success. However, they refuse to buy a “nice” car. “I wouldn’t be able to drive it around town without everybody talking.” I replied, “Well, perhaps they could talk and it would still be okay?” Her response was curt. “I’d rather not give them something to talk about.”
Each of these people has something to hide. It is robbing them of life’s greatest gift – inner peace. Now let’s take this a step further. You are walking down the street. Suddenly you notice that someone is looking at you. How do you feel? Perhaps you are in your car at a red light. You look to your left and notice that person has been staring at you. Sometimes, I do this intentionally while driving on a multi-lane highway. I almost always get noticed and often quite quickly. I ask myself, “Do we have a built-in radar that tells us when someone is staring at us?”
Why does it bother most of us that someone should see us, know about our activities or our financial state of affairs? Obviously, we have something to hide. Yet when I have offered this up to clients and audiences countless times over the years, the response I mostly get is denial. “I have nothing to hide. It’s just none of their business!” Harumph! The contradiction within the same sentence is lost on them.
Thus, we see once again that we are spiritually blind. It is easy to test yourself on this one. Simply stop hiding that which makes you uncomfortable for others to know! Let your warts be seen. Smile when someone stares at you. Publish what you are doing on Facebook. I once did an activity in a course I was taking about being present and non-judgmental. It was very simple. Take a piece of paper. Write down two numbers on a page in large digits. One is your income last year. The other is the value of your total assets. Then pin the paper onto your chest for all to see. Wow! That blew me out of the water! At the time (mid-90s), I just had a down year – my income was $60,000. I felt ashamed of that number because my income the previous year had been about $275,000. Oh how I wanted to insert an addendum!
In a class of 28 people, I quickly saw that I was the second highest earner. To my shock, the richest man in the room was a rabbi around 30 years of age. Another man in his late 40s was nearly penniless. Immediately, the judgments I held about money and my perception of self-worth leaped to my conscious mind. The voice of my father also appeared – “Oh, they have lots of money – they can afford it.” I began to realize that money itself is non-judgmental. Our views of it are far from that however.
Why do we want to hide our financial position, how we look or what we have been doing? Quite simply, we don’t feel safe. We know instinctively that someone will judge us unfavourably. We fear the consequences of that judgment – alienation due to excess wealth or its opposite; unwanted rejection or aggression due to our looks whether beauty or beast; job or relationship loss due to behaviour others will disapprove of.
If you believe that there is life after death and a God who will decide your eternal destiny, then it is useless to hide anything: “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:13
Furthermore, in practical terms, hiding takes energy and causes anxiety when that which is hidden risks being seen. We can never enjoy true inner peace until we are at peace that our entire lives can be inspected and judged by others. This does not mean we need to pro-actively announce our darkest secrets to the general public. But it does mean we have to be comfortable with that possibility. The only way to know for yourself is to do it.
Today, think of something that you prefer to keep hidden. Write it down. Write down what consequences you fear from those who would be affected by knowing your truth. Explore why those consequences frighten or anger you. These will point to your beliefs and judgments. Visualize that your fears come true. Will you survive? If so, consider exposing your truth – not for shock value – but because it is your truth and if others would react energetically, it must be relevant to them. Pray for peace and strength before you act. Then act.
My experience with doing this is that 4 out of 5 times, their reaction is never as severe as I anticipated. We are our own worst critics. When the reaction was severe, I grew stronger from the experience. I discovered I could handle far more than I imagined. So can you.
Until you do this, you remain imprisoned. You cannot be led by the Spirit because your desire to hide is a roadblock to cooperating with God. Fear separates us from God, enslaving us to fear. Love unites us. There can be no love while we are afriad of being found out. Jesus taught the rewards of this very explicitly in John 3:19-21:
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.”
In his peace,
For more on the freedom of being authentic, read my book (click here:) What’s Important Now: Shedding the Past So You Can Live in the Present