Our Hiding Place
by Amber Haines
After a night of unrest and terrifying dreams, my husband asked me, “Is there something you need to tell me?”
It was early morning, still dark. I sat down next to him in shock that he’d asked. Until that very moment, I had feared the pain of hurting him with the truth more than I had feared God or my sin patterns. I knew exactly what he was talking about. I said, “Yes. I have to tell you that I kissed him.”
The despair was palpable. He cried with an ache that out-did any pain I had experienced. Grief doesn’t seem word enough. An immediate, deep awareness filled our house, and the sun rose up. I had had an affair four years before I confessed it, so nothing new had happened except our sudden shared knowledge of how broken we were, and it was more than a knowing of the mind. We could feel it. It was down to the bone emotion. It was right out in the air how broken. I was splayed wide open, exposed, and I found myself considering a name of Jesus I hadn’t remembered in a long time.
He is my Hiding Place. In the light of that morning, there wasn’t a shadow left for hiding. It’s called mercy when the rays beat down and we’re forced out of the shadows. I had no secret hiding place left that wasn’t in my Jesus, that wasn’t in his mercy.
That was the morning our pain came out of the shadows. Before that day, I had learned well how to hide brokenness, how to send it buried down and work it away. I had made it my job in a mega-church to fit in and to look healthy and wise, while inwardly I was wasting away.
Days after my confession and a few confessions from both of us, my husband and I realized the freedom that came with stepping out of all the hiding places that weren’t in our Jesus. We had harbored unforgiveness toward one another and toward the church, and hiding in our own self-righteousness was a recipe for shame.
The most probable root meaning of shame is “to cover,” because covering and hiding are the expressions of shame. Think fig leaves. Think secret keeping. Think addictions and how they’re always there to cover the pain.
Shame itself is an addictive drug, because we usually believe it’s easier to keep our brokenness to ourselves. But confess your sins one to another […] and you will be healed (James 5:16). Think about the domino effect of healing in the church—if we came out with all the ways we’re hiding so we can live in the light of Christ. What if confessing our brokenness were the very avenue of healing, how only the sick need a doctor?
There’s no greater love than the love on the other side of forgiveness. We’re 15 years into marriage now, and we know what a mercy it is. We know the beauty of boasting in our weakness so the power of Christ would rest on us (2 Corinthians 12:9), so we aren’t ones now for keeping secrets, even if they hurt.
What do we have to lose by being honest about our brokenness? It’s hard to answer this without being honest about how broken we all are, how so many symptoms say the church herself is very sick. If we open up and get honest, will we be rejected? Will the world fall apart?
The only real answer I have is Christ and him resurrected. It can be a death to confess, to realize just how needy we all are, but for my marriage, it was when we came to know the love of God, how he fills us and makes us new. Healing is worth the risk. It’s an abundant life that hides in Christ, how we rest now, how we know our great need.
He is the only place we can go to be healed from shame, and the healing makes the brokenness almost beautiful. When I call myself broken, hear me call myself healed. Let it be so in the church.
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