Lisa says "we have become experts at concealing things that we feel need to keep hidden; otherwise, we fear we may not be accepted or loved...concealment of our souls robs us of meaningful interactions with people."
You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Psalm 145:16
It's not whether we can conceal or what we can conceal. It boils down to that God doesn't want us to conceal but rather to be real. It starts with being real with ourselves and God, then with others.
I will uncover his hiding places, so that he cannot conceal himself. Jeremiah 49:10
I have experienced real identity theft through my credit report but I've also experienced emotional identity theft. Lisa says "we are losing our identities in the form of our souls." In my marriage, I was held captive by my emotions, satan, and pain. I didn't even know it was happening. Just like Lisa says, it snuck up on me. "We are a day late and a dollar short...full of regret and excuses." (But God has the right change and He's never late so He can more than make up in what we are short.) My heart was hardened and my true emotional state was stolen. Satan deceived. Satan stole. It wouldn't be fair to put all the blame and responsibility on the evil one. I chose to listen to his lies and fall trapped to his deceit but it snuck up on me. I never woke up one day and said, okay satan I see it your way. I didn't even know it was satan playing with me and deceiving me. He's now doing that exact same thing to someone else and this person doesn't know it either. That's satan's power...he's sneaky. A person being deceived by satan does not know he's being deceived!!! That's when God's power comes in, takes over, and removes the blindness caused by the enemy's deceit.
The greatest deceiver himself, satan, has an influence on our big cover up. He is the first to tell us we need to conceal our heart and soul. He speaks to us every reason why we must hide ourselves. Satan is waiting for us to fall into his trap of deceit. As if our self-esteem and self worth is not low enough on our own, satan likes to reinforce that. I hear his lies to me but it takes God's love and His Truth to overpower those lies. "You are not good enough, Paula. You could never be what you dream, Paula. You are not loveable, Paula. You are not worthy, Paula. You have messed up too much, Paula. How will you ever make it right, Paula?"
Society also encourages us to stay hidden. It provides products and services that only aid in the cover up but not to attack the source of the problems nor be real with God and others. Why is society so ready and willing to jump at the chance to aid in our concealment? Because, society is also the one who tells us we must be perfect....emotionally, financially, relationally, spiritually. Oh no, not spiritually because society is not the least concerned with spiritual concerns. So, because we must be perfect, and we are not, then we enter this vicious cycle of concealing.
There's a self help book for every issue. Self-help indicates we can help ourselves with no need of God. Instead, God should be our primary focus and source for help. There is always someone ready and available to diagnose and provide the great and mighty solution. The truth is only God can do that.
Our personal choices also influence what we conceal. My personal choices have reinforced my failures. My biggest and most regrettable mistakes reign in my heart. Those choices make me want to crawl into a hole. Those choices make me wonder how my wrongs will ever be made right. I want to hide my choices because of my shame. Yet, I know I'm forgiven by Christ so others should not judge me nor even those offended by me should withhold forgiveness. But we are human, so I fear I will never be able to live beyond those terrible choices.
Lisa says "our disappointment has caused us to be increasingly displeased with our current situation, and therefore we feel as if we've gotten the short end of the stick in life. Everyone else's journey seems smoother, more exciting, and enviably fulfilling." (Emphasis added.) Beside her words, I wrote this: ding, ding, ding. It seems when we find ourselves in this state, we can literally see something better, smoother, and joyful in every other person's life no matter what their circumstances. As pathetic as it is and horrific as it sounds, I'm going to be real and honest. Real honest. I've even been able to rationalize in my mind how someone with cancer or a debilitating illness has it better than me. At the beginning of my painful journey, I said I'd rather be so-and-so who has cancer but she has the love of her life with her, her beloved husband, her true love (from a human, that is). That is so wrong and sounds sick that I'd trade my situation with a woman who has an illness but has her husband.
O God...my soul thirsts for you...in a dry and weary land where there is no water." Psalm 63:1
Lisa is so right when she says "God is always merciful and just, even when He gets really ticked off sometimes with the way we act." Now, ain't that the cotton-pickin' truth. I'm sure the Lord has wanted to ring my neck. I'm sure He's wanted to say "I told you so. I warned you. You didn't listen." But, He has not done that. He has been nothing but loving, forgiving, and merciful. How would I be? How am I? Am I merciful and just when I'm mad and ticked off. Nope, I don't measure up as well. God is showing me how to react more like Him.
So what are we concealing? Lisa addresses the four feelings we conceal: insecurity, jealousy, loneliness, and fear.
Lisa says "We usually do our best to conceal the truth from others. Why? Because of our feelings, we try to conceal these things from others in order to hide what is painful to admit even to ourselves." Oh, how I know exactly what she is saying. I've been there. I couldn't admit to myself the pain I now see had been driving me for two years. I guess it's fair to say, to a degree, I still hide some of these four feelings at times. Although, through this trial in the last year and a half, I've openly admitted these feelings. I've told several blog friends that I envy their marriages and the devotion of their husbands. I openly admit I'm lonely and long for love only found in a marital relationship. I've spoken briefly about my insecurities and struggles with low self-esteem at times. Fears, they are there also and have been admitted to others at times.
Insecurity. I believe insecurity comes from satan. We are secure in Christ if we are believers so He will not make us feel insecure. Low self-esteem, low self-confidence, and uncertainty are all the tools satan uses to convince us further of lies about ourselves. Those lies in turn, we must fight to conceal. Satan tells us we are insecure but we don't want to be insecure so we conceal that we are insecure so we don't have to admit we are insecure because we don't want others to know we might have insecurities. On and on and on we go. Boy, I can sure relate to Lisa's statement of causing "us to feel as though we are not as good as the next girl." Oh sister, have I been there. Insecurity can lead to something even more dangerous. What?
Jealousy. With jealousy we talk about friendships. I so hate to say it but I do agree when Lisa says "the reality is that adult females can be more dramatic than any teenage grudge or petty argument." Teens do get over "the issue" a lot quicker than adult women. I've experienced so much hurt from female friends, more than I ever thought possible. I never knew the reality of Lisa's statement until the last couple years. She goes on to say "true friendships are often very difficult to find and much more difficult to actually keep." Wow. Lisa, that hurts. That's scary. That's sad. Tell me it's not so. I've always said I wish I had a sister because then I would have a friend for life because even in fights we'd have to eventually make up. A sister would never abandon me, right? I'm sure many women have experienced estrangement from sisters but in my head, that's why I always wished for a sister, an instant BFF (best friend forever). Jonathan and David give us a wonderful example of friendship in 1 Samuel 18:1-4. What did they have that we may not? They were committed to God, they "let" nothing come between them, trials drew them together not apart and they were BFF...to the very end. aha. I desire to follow their extraordinary example. Let's commit to doing it their way.
Loneliness. Is it possible to be in a crowd full of people, even family and loved ones, and still be lonely? Oh yes. I don't mean in a concert crowd. I mean in a crowd of those we love the most, those who are dear and special to us, we can still feel such deep loneliness. I'm guessing many people will feel intense loneliness with the upcoming holidays. I dread them this year. For some reason, this year will be worse than last year or least it feels that way right now. I'm always open for God knocking my socks off and surprising me with supernatural peace during these months. I love how Lisa says "loneliness may make the loudest noise, but it can't hinder the mighty arms of God from reaching down and picking up a broken soul who's all alone in the middle of a lonely night." I have discovered that for His arms to do this, at times we have to be committed to looking for Him and His arms before we can receive that comfort. In the depths of my pain, I have missed His presence at time because of the overwhelming pain.
Fear. I think this feeling is the feeling that brought up the least amount of emotions for me. Yes, I have fears. Physical fears of one said creature who has no legs and slivers. Eek. I have emotional fears of desires possibly not brought to life. I have fears of loved ones not receiving Jesus. I equate fears to worry. If we fear something we are really just worrying about it. Lisa put it beautifully: "God recognizes that as finite humans, we fear things we shouldn't. But He has compassion on us because He knows we do anyway." How beautiful is that? He has compassion on us anyway. Anyway!
Let me close this novel (ha) with Lisa's last words. "Whether we are feeling insecure, jealous, lonely, or afraid, our precious Father desires to hold us and tell us we are worthy, important, gifted, never alone, and never to fear. He longs to uncover these feelings we hide so that we can find out who we are, once and for all...without all the concealer." (Emphasis added.)
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