We’ve all done it-chosen to swallow words instead of share them.
Or we’ve chosen to fake a smile instead of giving another person an honest peek into our hearts.
Or we’ve pretended, pretended, pretended in the hopes folks sniffing around will go away.
But it’s not a long term solution to the pain we carry, the scars we bear or the stories that need telling.
Hiding often seems a good idea at the time. Conflict avoided. Inconvenient conversations postponed. Hard issues ignored. Respite from harsh words, hard feelings and hopeless discussions obtained.
I’ve hidden for a fair share of my life.
As a child it seemed that the best way to hover just under the parental radar was to go along to get along. Don’t hold too many preferences too tightly. Say “yes” even when your heart says “no”. Let the loud ones prevail. Stay quiet, stay small and stay out of trouble.
As a young married to a significantly older husband, it served me well. Don’t rock the boat. Silent assent keeps things smoother. Say “yes” even when your heart says “no”. It’s really not worth the hassle to do otherwise. Stay quiet, stay small and stay out of trouble.
In a multitude of leadership positions within the church community, it served me well. Don’t overstep-remember you aren’t a salaried employee. Check your spirit and make sure your own heart is right. Let it go and get over it. Say “yes” even when your heart says “no”. Stay quiet, stay small and stay out of trouble.
The problem with hiding from feelings and hiding from hard things and hiding from messy relationships is that I can’t hide forever. Eventually someone or something will force those things to the top. And if I haven’t been dealing with them all along, they gain strength and intensity in the waiting.
I don’t hide anymore.
Dominic’s death unleashed a thousand unspoken words, a thousand unexpressed feelings.
Suddenly I had a lot to say.
And it didn’t all have a direct connection to Dominic’s leaving but it was his leaving that made them impossible to hide anymore. Once the dam broke in my heart it ALL flooded out.
Decades of uncomfortable conversations I had avoided became unavoidable. Years of relationship patterns that served no one were examined and remade. I’m still finding bits that need attention, things I really need to speak aloud. I will sometimes try to hide. It doesn’t last long though.
What I’m learning from refusing to hide is that it’s so much healthier! It’s so much better to speak my truth (always, hopefully!) in love.
When I silence my heart, I only postpone and prolong and pile up hurt.
It doesn’t go away.
It burrows in and makes a home, pushing out everything else.
It’s no solution.
Our hearts and minds are resistant to change and if you, like me, are one who hid to avoid conflict, who swallowed words and wounds and worry, it will be hard.
Try to find ways (even if it’s writing letters to some folks) to express your true feelings. Make sure you are speaking lovingly as well as truthfully. Get a friend to read your note or hear you out and give you feedback.
Then offer the important people in your life your heart-your true heart-instead of hiding.