One of our pastors preached a great sermon today... beginning with the story of how, as a kid, he used to play a game that was a combination of kick the can and hide and seek. They played at night, beginning in a circle around a fire. All the kids would run and hide in the darkness except for the person who was "it" who remained in the circle around the fire with a flashlight in hand. The goal was to get inside the fire circle without being spotted by the person with the flashlight. He tied this image to the story of Genesis 3, where Adam & Eve hid from God in the garden. Their shame made them want to be invisible. We all deal with shame in deep and intimate ways, and we all, like Adam and Eve, want to become invisible. Back to the game... when someone was able to get into the circle without being spotted, the game was over. Then came the cry, "come out, come out, wherever you are," signaled that it was now time to come and rejoin around the fire. Christ has called, "come out, come out, wherever you are," signaling to us that our time of hiding in our shame is over. As we hide desperately behind trees, trying not to be seen, we are called to be found... to walk toward the fire. Even though the brightness of the fire blinds us to where we step, we are called to keep walking toward the brightness... to leave our shame, our desire to hide, and to come into the presence of the almighty God. Jesus has ended the game of hide and seek.
And so, for the past hour, I have been thinking about all the ways I try to hide. And many of these hidden shames find their way into my thoughts and actions as a mother. I try to cover my feelings of inadequacy and inconsistency in trying to come up with creative and clever 'activities' that might prove what a fantastic mom I am to anyone who might look in our direction. I may lose my temper and scold the kids, but hey, look at those cool paintings on the refrigerator. I may sometimes resent being excluded from any social contact because one of my kids is sick, but did you see the costumes I made for them by hand? I have noticed that whenever I doubt my ability / desire to give of myself in love to my family, I find myself overcompensating in some sort of material 'proof' that my love for them is real... like a sort of penance almost.
In some ways, maybe proof is important. God did take on human flesh and prove his self-giving in an ultimately material way. If we are ever in doubt of the strength of his love for us, we have proof to remind us. But do I make costumes, decorate gingerbread men, and make paintings to display on the fridge out of love for my kids, or out of some sick need to put a slick appearance on a deeply-felt shame that I am not the mother I long to be?