Afraid of the Light
Luke 8:17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.
My son and I were in one of my childhood haunts yesterday. I am severely nostalgic, so I was reminded of and told him (for the tenth time apparently) the following story: When I was probably five or six, we were camping there, when my older sister and I were sent to the camp store for something.
We carried out our task but also bought a snack, which we had not been instructed to do. In guilt, on the way back, we hid the evidence under a random log along the path. I spent the rest of the vacation convinced that my parents would roll that log over, find the wrapper and know what we had done.
Now, my parents were not severe people. Had I just told them that we bought the snack, I am sure all would have been well. I became more afraid of the cover-up than the actual crime. Every time we walked by that spot for the rest of that week, I got panicky. I loved vacation but when we left at the end of the week, I was happy to go.
You may laugh at the story and my over-developed conscience, but you likely also know what it is like to live in fear that the real you will be discovered. What if people knew? What if everyone could see my thoughts? What if my deepest, darkest secrets were broadcast for all to see?
Most of us know what it is like to live in fear of the light. We think, say and do things in the cover of night that would mortify us if dragged into daylight. This guilt and fear is miserable.* So, what do we do about it?
Most of us just become calloused to the feeling. If we ignore it long enough, it just becomes normal. The only thing as miserable as discovery is actually changing. Change is profoundly difficult, so we avoid it and learn to ignore the guilt, or at least we try. If we can keep the façade up, we can continue in our secret hatred, anger, resentment, arrogance, lust or addiction.
The alternative is to face the secret, drag it into the light and repent. I would love to say that I chose this option on my own. The truth is, I had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, into the light. I did not enjoy the process, but it was the only way to find freedom from the addiction and the paralyzing guilt of hiding it.
I spent many sleepless nights worrying that my secret would be discovered, which is ironic as I initially took pills to help with insomnia. I sleep like a baby now of course, as I no longer live in fear of discovery.
I am not saying that you need to print your misdeeds in the paper. I am just saying that the only real solution is to do whatever it takes to stop the misdeeds. This may well require confession and will certainly require painful change. For some it will mean treatment. For all of us, it will require a radical, daily effort to abandon self in pursuit of God.
*To be clear, I am referring to our own destructive actions, not misplaced guilt and shame over abuse suffered at the hands of others.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.