No Need to Hide When You Abide

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After analysis paralysis, I decided to focus on what makes us hide and why it is safe to come out and be authentic.

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When he was twelve, a family friend molested him. He never told his parents but for more than decade, he hid his pain through an addiction to pornography and sex.

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“Why can’t you be pretty and smart like your sister?”

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When his dad was in a drunken rage, the little boy would find a place to hide.

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Adam and Eve lost intimacy with God and each other after their sin, and hid from God. Yet God seeks them and asks, “Where are you?”

God knew but did Adam and Eve know they were hiding and why?

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However we receive the message, we may believe that in order to be deemed worthy, we must be perfect so we hide the real and imperfect parts of us.

“Shame breeds fear. It crushes our tolerance for vulnerability, thereby killing engagement, innovation, creativity, productivity, and trust.”

                        ~Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Shame leads to inauthentic living.

What is the antidote to our shame?

Brene Brown says research shows vulnerability and “shame resilience” are keys to authenticity. For me, it began with being vulnerable or open to God’s love and forgiveness.

I am authentic/vulnerable with God when I risk telling Him what I’m really thinking and feeling, even if it is intense anger, hurt, or jealousy.

God doesn’t shame or condemn me; instead He responds with compassion and forgiveness.

I am authentic with my husband when I tell him what hurt my feelings even if it may seem like a silly and small thing. If I’m not vulnerable, I lose an opportunity to create greater understanding and intimacy.

“If we share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”

       ~Brene Brown, Daring Greatly.

We need a safe person (maybe a friend or a counselor) to hear our story.

“Self-compassion is also critically important, but because shame is a social concept–it happens between people—it also heals best between people.”

       – Brene Brown, Daring Greatly

Healing comes, but we must give ourselves grace and space for healing. The wounding didn’t happen overnight, nor will healing.

Children’s brains have mirror neurons so our earliest relationships shape us more than we can consciously know. For example, our daughter’s birth forced me to examine my earliest memories as her birth triggered night terrors and anxiety attacks in me.

Before he created my family, God originally created me in His image (Gen. 1:26-27).

“To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity.”

~Thomas Merton

God knit me with my unique gifts and struggles in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13-16).

During a period when tears flowed regularly, God reminded me: my truest origin began when He knew me before the foundations of the world and He chose me (in love) to be His child (Eph. 1:3-4).

Before anyone stated my value or lack, God declared my inherent worth.

The more I know God and abide in him, the more I know myself.

“Nearly all wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.”

~John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

Authenticity is being fully the person God created me to be.

In midlife, I am becoming more authentically me. I’m slowly learning to embrace my need for quiet and to write to process my thoughts and feelings. I’m slowly learning to say “no” and to focus first on pleasing God, not people. I’m slowly learning it is okay to make time for what I enjoy (e.g., a good book, beautiful flowers, and art) as part of God’s gift of rest (Matt. 11:28-30).

“To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody but yourself—means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight—and never stop fighting.”

~ e. e. cummings

May you fight the good fight for authenticity.

What helps you to become more authentically you?

What helps you come out of hiding?

Dolly Lee

Dolly Lee

Writer at Soul Stops
In her 40s, Dolly has learned to abide more in God's love, which has given her the courage to step out of her comfort zone and blog at Soul Stops, travel to Guatemala to visit Potter's House ministry, and attend seminary in the fall. She lives in California with her husband, who is the love of her life and best friend, their daughter, and one crazy dog (the lone extrovert in their family).

If you subscribe to her blog, you'll receive a free copy of her Soul Care Manifesto which replaces the lies about soul care with truth. She'd love to connect with you!
Dolly Lee

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  • Terri

    Good Morning Dolly! What a great insight to see those things that feed our soul and that we enjoy as part of God’s rest. That rest that restores and encourages our authentic self. And it is a fight for authenticity. I have found that the fight for authenticity can include gently removing people from our lives that squelch that authentic voice. Great post, much to reflect on. Wishing you a peace filled day!

    • Terri,
      Thanks for reading and for sharing what helps you in your fight for authenticity…I agree about gently removing people when I can 🙂 Peace and grace to you.

  • I so resonate with what you’re saying about mid-life and the freedom that comes to be who we’re truly created to be. I found that true for myself, and like you, that’s when I headed back to school. I could just say ‘amen, amen, amen’ to that last paragraph you penned.

    And Brene brings so much wisdom to this unsettling subject of shame. Her book was good, a slow read. There was so much to take in.

    I guess that’s true about any serious subject with so many deep implications. Thank you for going there, Dolly. The enemy of our souls wants us steeped in shame, stuck there, immobilized. Christ died to free us from this horrible curse.

    I, for one, am grateful …

    • Linda,
      Giving thanks with you, my friend 🙂 And yes, so much to take in with Brene’s book and her research.

  • bluecottonmemory

    Such encouraging truth, Dolly – maybe that is the gem of mid-life, the hidden beauty of it – that we finally give in to Him and see ourselves as He sees us. You write, “The wounding didn’t happen overnight, nor will healing” – it is a process, isn’t it? A healing process that only happens as we come close to Him. Your post contains a message so dear to my heart. I’m so glad you shared it:) I think we’d have a lot to talk about over coffee at the next retreat!!!

    • Maryleigh,
      Oh, I do hope we can talk sooner than the next retreat! I know you know about process and healing…and yes, it only happens when we come close to God, close enough to see His gaze of love and hear His words of love 🙂

  • Dolly, how beautiful. I love Brene Brown. She is so wise. I love that shame is healed best in connection to someone else. It is a hard first step to be vulnerable enough to tell someone your story so that shame can begin healing. You’ve given me something to think about today 🙂

    • Gaby,
      It is a hard first step and I know it began with me being honest with God and myself then finding trusted help…I pray God will give you courage to share your story and God provides someone wise and loving…((hugs))

  • So insightful, Dolly. Thank you for addressing important topics such as authenticity and shame. I love Brene Brown’s wisdom, too. She has some great video talks. A couple of her books are on my wish list. I think the biggest thing that helps me to be authentic is when I can focus on who I really am in Christ Jesus.

    • Trudy,
      Yes, I agree about focusing on our identity in Christ…I have to daily ask God’s grace to help me to remember my true identity in Christ…so glad you’ve also discovered Brene Brown and her research…I like to take what she’s written and see where it correlates with Scripture….Thanks, and I pray God continues to be with you on your healing journey….((hugs))

  • Meg Gemelli

    I think about this topic a lot as my husband and I navigate the best ways to discipline and motivate our children. We never want to shame, but always want them to understand right and wrong…most importantly, that they are ALWAYS loved. Thank you for speaking so eloquently on the subject! You have a lovely site and I’m happy to be a first time visitor here:)

    Blessings!

    • Meg,
      It made me smile to know your children are growing up knowing they are always loved and what is right and wrong…my husband and I also talk about this issue…Thanks for visiting the Mudroom Blog and it is a lovely site…I’m guest posting 🙂

  • Kamea Hope

    Insightful words, as always, my sweet friend. Shame is truly a killer of authenticity. But as we learn to let the light of Christ shine into all of those dark places, we find that His glorious light obliterates the darkness, breaking the power of shame and the need to hide. I look forward to reading more on this topic…

    Blessings and hugs,
    Kamea

    • Kamea,
      I know you’ve experienced the light of Christ and you shine it in your words/blog…grateful to be learning with you on how to let Christ’s light dispel the darkness 🙂 blessings and hugs to you, too 🙂

  • Beautiful post, Dolly. I also found that in my 40’s, I somehow moved into more freedom. I was freer to be me and more comfortable in my own skin. But praise God, I never had really deeply rooted shame issues. God protected my childhood in marvelous ways, I guess. 🙂

    • Betsy,
      So great to hear you also experienced more freedom and that you never had any deeply rooted shame issues and I’m guessing, hopefully, nothing traumatic in your childhood 🙂 Thanks for reading 🙂

  • Excellent post, Dolly. This is a great reminder for me that all of us are broken in one way or the other. When we think in these terms and act in honesty the legalism and judging melt into compassion. It’s about the heart… not our acting skills. Great lesson. Thanks.

    • Floyd,
      Thanks…I like how you put it: “it’s about the heart…not our acting skills.” Yes and if we really believe the gospel and God, none of us can hide from Him and yet God loves us and forgives us, but we must come clean 🙂

  • What is it about their 40s for women? It seems several of us found a sense of freedom in being ourselves and authentic with others as we are taught to be with God. I believe we find a sense of knowing those who are in our real time vision are perhaps not judging as much as we thought or we become more comfortable with having been created in God’s image and if we’re good enough for Him, then the world can just step down and take a seat. This allowed me to see myself for who I really am and to accept myself flaws and all. Knowing God’s unconditional love made it so easy for me. Also I had remarried a few years before my 40s and my second husband is a most accepting and loving individual. He helped me a lot in this regard. Dolly, thanks for an amazing post!

    • Sherrey,
      Thanks for reading and I’m not sure what it is about the 40s…wish I knew 🙂 And I am so glad your husband is loving and accepting…it makes such a huge difference and I’m grateful for my hubby, too 🙂

  • Thanks so much for sharing this, and I love the EE Cummings quote. I don’t even always fit in in church settings….its my prayer that everyone will be accepted, no matter their age, race, gender, whatever. Especially in Dad’s House! Love to you, thanks for writing,
    Jasmine

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