Do you recognize any of these behaviors?
The first question that was ever asked of a human being by the Creator was, “Where are you?” There is nothing wrong with this question. In fact, the question comes from the one who wanted relationship with all of us. Yet, our response to the question is much like Adam and Eve. We try to be in control and let God see only a piece of ourselves, instead of trusting his desire to have a full and intimate relationship.
We hide. We hide from God and from one another. We live with secrets. We practice image management. We are more concerned about projecting a certain image of ourselves than revealing who we really are. Sometimes, this happens in churches. In fact, many have found that churches are great places to hide. When I was a child, we played “hide and seek.” Count to ten and then come find me. Many of us are still playing a form of “hide and seek” as adults. We may fear discovery, being known, or being rejected.
We deny. We deny that we are wrong or that we have done anything wrong. Part of our denial is seen in our attempts to communicate that we are always doing really well.
“Oh the kids are fine. John and Jane just had a baby boy!” (Actually John and Jane have a marriage that is hanging by a thread. Jane has really been struggling with depression. John exploded at his mother the other night when she expressed concern about their marriage.)
“You seem rather sad. Is this not a good day?” “Oh I’m fine. Nothing wrong here.” (Actually you are so discouraged you wonder how much longer you can hang on.)
- “If it weren’t for my husband, the kids, my job, the teacher, those elders in our church …”
- “Look at what you made me do.”
- “Don’t blame me. If you were the wife you should be, I wouldn’t have done…”
Is this any way to live? Yet, far too many Christ-followers live this way. Far too many churches seem to accept one or more of these behaviors as a part of their culture.
I have been thinking a lot about this lately. Some of these thoughts come from meditating on Genesis 1-3. Some of these thoughts were inspired years ago when I read everything by Henri Nouwen that I could find. Some of these thoughts emerged as I saw some of these behaviors in my own life.
- More concerned about what people thought than the reality of my life.
- Denying what is obviously true.
- More focused on blaming someone or something else for things that happen than taking responsibility.
When I see one of these behaviors in my life, I know this is not constructive, not helpful, and certainly doesn’t move me toward God.
The problem with these approaches to life is that they are fear based and rooted in human pride. God, on the other hand, offers you and me a relationship that is freedom based and rooted in trusting him.
How are these behaviors (hiding, blaming, denying) often experienced in church settings?