(of a person) having one’s true identity concealed.
synonyms: under an assumed name, under a false name, in disguise, disguised, under cover, in plain clothes, camouflaged
God recently spoke to me about coming out of hiding,
Come out of your hiding places so that you can’t rely on them anymore.
I imagine the character, Oliver Queen (Green Arrow of DC Comics). Back to when he had been abandoned on the island. After becoming aware that he was supposed to be a dead and that there were villains sent to kill him, he began to hide. He hid in a variety of places. He hid to survive. Oliver Queen was hiding from the real threat of death and torture.
We hide from the real or perceived threat of hurt, rejection, shame and insecurity.
Why hide? We are afraid to be broken and we desire to save face in the presence of those threats.
Last fall I read Uninvited (Lysa Turkeurst), Unashamed (Christine Caine) and Without Rival (Lisa Bevere). The major themes were rejection, shame and God’s unique love for us as individuals. Uninvited led to a revelation of my deep needs to feel noticed and safe.
At our human core we are self-protectors and hiders. Adam and Eve tried to protect themselves from the sight of their nakedness and sin. They hid in the Garden from God unsuccessfully.
We have yet to perfect this hiding game. God beckons us out of our hiding places.
In December, I wrote in my journal:
Whats so hard with telling someone how you really feel? Why is rejection so terrifying? Why does rejection hurt so badly? So deeply? Whats so hard about showing your real feelings? With letting someone see you cry? Whats so hard about telling someone you hurt my feelings? Why are all of those things so scary? Why am I so afraid of those? Whats so hard about being vulnerable? I don’t know how to not hide. I don’t know how to come out of hiding.
The next day, God spoke to me about saving face. He said,
You want to save face, I AM your face.
I said Whhaaaa? I’m still trying to really grasp what He meant.
The concept of “saving face” has its roots in Chinese culture [when you search Google]. I know its roots go way back. The Chinese “saving face” is a way to avoid humiliation for yourself or for someone else. Using this definition, I could say I’m trying to save myself from humiliation. A synonym of humiliate is shame or making someone feel ashamed. So here we have arrived at Shame once again. Shame always causes us to hide.
Though we try to avoid shame, humiliation, rejection, incompetency, inability, inadequacy–
God takes those away and makes us delightful, honored, accepted, competent, able, adequate.
I am your dwelling place Deuteronomy 33:27
One night in January, I couldnt get to sleep. I got out of bed and ate a bowl of cereal. Looking around my living room I read a sign I have up that says,
The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. Exodus 14:14
I began seeing it in a very new way. Often times, we focus on the “be still” portion of this scripture. Telling ourselves to chill out- Gods got this. This time I saw the “The Lord will fight for you” even larger and bolder than ever before. The Lord…will FIGHT. FIGHT for ME. Little ‘ol me. I began to pray,
Father God, please fight for me. I release me. I release me from the duty to fight for myself. I invite you, the Holy Spirit to fight for me.
Tears fell. Tears I didn’t know were ready to be released. God has been speaking to me for years about these issues. My way of having my emotions controlled. I most often, feel the safest when alone. Though I have close relationships with a small (tiny) group of people, I continue to stay retreated within myself.
“I can allow the Holy Spirit to become my defense mechanism (p. 88, Unashamed).”
Last week, I began to think of the story in Matthew 14 of the disciples on a boat during the night. We are often amazed at the story. Just before dawn, the disciples saw someone on the water. They thought it was a ghost! Jesus told them “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Peter told Jesus, if it really is you “tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus does tell him to come out onto the water. Peter gets out of the boat but upon looking down at the water gets a little freaked and Jesus steps in and keeps him above the water.
Lets back up though. Matthew 14:28 tells us that Peter told Jesus to tell him to come out onto the water.
!!!WHAT??? I would never have said that. First, because I do have a fear of deep water, drowning and very large sea creatures swallowing me. I would have been one of the disciples that was not talking, trying to camouflage with the boat. I would have hoped that Jesus was a ghost so I didn’t have to get out of that boat! Peter didn’t hide. He didn’t retreat in fear. Jesus beckoned him out of the boat. Out of safety – because He was the Safety. He was the boat, the safety net, the refuge.
He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. Psalm 91:2
I recently listened to a short webcast from a woman named, Jennifer LeClaire. She prophesied, “Emerge from your Cave.”
The notes I took were yet another addition to this entire message from God to me.
-look upon God’s face
-dont look at their face – look upon Mine
-emerge from the cave, cave dwellers
I’m coming out the caves. I’m revealing my hiding spots so that I can’t go back to them. In the moments to come when I feel like retreating, defending myself against the threats of hurt, rejection, shame and insecurity I will rely on the Lord. It will be a case by case basis because I don’t know what exactly I’m in for. I will show up though. I wont play it safe from inside the caverns. I’m aware the only way to achieve this is to take myself out of the equation and yield it to the Holy Spirit. Less of me, more of HIM.
(Unashamed- Christine Caine)
“Always keep in mind you are accepted by God.” – John Eckhardt
Uninvited by Lysa Turkeurst
Unashamed by Christine Caine
Without Rival by Lisa Bevere
Not too long ago I attended a seminar where the facilitator was presenting on sexism in the media. The facilitator showed us a short video compilation of printed images such as advertisements as well as music videos clips. Some dated back to the 50s with the all knowing man and the ditzy wife theme. Some were of a recent timeframe, raunchy and inflammatory, some alluded to violence. Of course, the group I was with [women] found all these images distasteful and yup, you guessed it….SEXIST. Well duh. The discussion questions were very typical per this subject matter, “What do these images have in common? What messages about relationship are in these images?” I didn’t participate much (or at all) because I found all of it to be so much of Intro to Women’s Studies, which I exuberantly participated in over 10 years ago. This was supposed to be a workshop among professionals in my field, but I felt as if I went back to a pre-Kardashian era. Sometimes I wonder why we as a society are still talking about sexism? We are precisely the people that are perpetuating it and parading it around. Like it or not, “society” is not a distant land where all the bad people live. Society is you and me, all of us. Together and individually. Own It.
“A tawdry, cartoonlike version of female sexuality has become so ubiquitous, it no longer seems particular. What we once regarded as a *kind* of sexual expression we now regard *as* sexuality.” -Ariel Levy (Female Chauvinist Pigs, 2005)
(This the most censored photo of “Rihanna see through dress” photo)
I reached the end of my rope this week when I read that Madonna offered fellatio for Clinton votes. YUCK. I read the headline and wanted to throw-up. I’m done. I’m done caring about women that do not care about themselves. Its hard and honestly, don’t know how Jesus has a never-ending cup of cares for people that disgrace themselves. Yes, in decades and centuries that are long gone, men predominately were the ones that objectified us. Of course. However, you’ve got to be blind, deaf, and brain-dead to not comprehend the insidious damage you do to yourselves. You watch raunchy rated R movies, music videos, and tv shows with pubescent boy antics, foul language, derogatory terms, blatant female nudity, rape and much much more AND you LOVE IT. As long as the main female character is someone like Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Rihanna, Amy Schumer and sure even Madonna. You start claiming a membership to the Bee Hive and bragging you have a girl-crush.
“Why is this the “new feminism” and not what it looks like: the old objectification?” -A. Levy
However, not too long ago you hated Black rappers, Eminem and Robin Thicke. How Dare They! No offense, but even men know what kind of women to respect and what kind of women get the crumbs from the table. Sure, they should respect all of us. I’m sure that went out of the window when Adam realized he was naked after eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam hid himself and attempted to cover his shame, then blamed Eve for the transgression.
Eve did not respect herself enough to not fall into the lies of the serpent (Satan) and offered Adam a bite into sin. Eve allowed Adam to think sinning with her was desirable and permissible. Perhaps, she thought a little fun wouldn’t be so bad. She soon realized it was not a little fun but a massive error in judgment.
Adam turned his back on her.
The man said, “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” -Genesis 3:12
You turned your back on God, and in return Adam turned his back on you.
What can be done now?
Stop wearing your nipples and genitals on your sleeve. Stop glamorizing prostitution. Stop calling pornography, prostitution and stripping Sex Work. Its not a profession or an industry. Its sexual abuse, rape, human trafficking and slavery. Stop fawning over celebrities that perpetuate sexual stereotypes. Stop laughing at the crude humor of other women if you’d be “offended” if a man said the same thing. Don’t be a hypocrite. Stop buying supermarket magazines that are one less article away from PlayBoy. Stop watching porn. Stop sexting. Stop “tinder dating,” aka hooking up with strangers you meet online. FYI, no one thinks it’s an actual date. Stop thinking you can’t be sexist because you’re a woman. Stop thinking that calling yourself a feminist absolves you of misogynistic behavior. If you have no grace in your heart for the drug addicted woman that sells her body for just one more hit, then DO NOT praise these celebrities, friends or yourself for trading sexual appeal for just one more hit of attention. Stop trying to be “one of the guys.” So what if you can tell a sexist joke or drink a man under the table, you want credit for that? You want applause for that? Stop stalking other women or the other woman on social media, stalking is predatory behavior. Stop reveling in phallic ornaments like beaded necklaces and drinking straws at bachelorette parties. You celebrate your marriage by worshipping genetalia? Divorce statistics are just so sad aren’t they? Perhaps if adult men and women were making covenants instead of having frat parties, oh I mean weddings.
You have completely trivialized the human body, especially the female body. You continue to over emphasize the physical and underestimate the spiritual. You see yourself as just a sum of your parts, but you and I are much more than the total number of body parts. There is something bigger at stake here. It depressing that you don’t see it. Women are 70% more likely to experience depression than men; 12 million women in the United States are clinically depressed each year.
“And, of course, many individuals find it more acceptable to frame their problems as the result of a mental disorder and to take psychotropic drugs to attempt to relieve their distress than to see their suffering as the result of psychosocial problems.” -Allen Horwitz and Jerome Wakefield
All this liberation and you can not liberate yourself from the pagan sexism you perpetuate. You can be as “sex positive” as you want, but you can not sever yourself from the psychosocial consequences. It is easier to live a life out of control, a slave to your emotions and body than to die to your flesh. You are nothing more than eternal tweens and teens literally dying for cheap thrills.
This is Aleesha Barlow, she is the creator of the Tell Somebody movement.
Her grandfather sexually abused her when she was 6 years old. She told her mother and aunts but they did nothing to stop it. Twenty years later, she is telling everyone. She also believes in teaching children “Good touches and Bad touches” to empower them to know what is right and wrong. I found her Facebook somehow and followed her right away. She shares others’ stories of survival on the Facebook page. These stories are of people of all ages, men and women. Some are doing well while others still struggle very deeply. The stories are often horrific to read and will make you cringe. But they are Real stories and real people.
Sexual abuse happens. It happens all the time and to many people we know. Statistics have shown that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexual abused in their lifetime. All though, it is understood that those stats are probably off base. Many children and adults won’t Tell Somebody. They go through life keeping it a secret and sometimes it stays a secret until a new event transpires. Their child may confide in them that someone is touching them inappropriately. They may experience a rape or sexual assault as an adult which triggers memories and feelings from a childhood abuse. For some the memories may be obscure to the point that it may not even reach the surface. For others, sexual abuse is the norm for a family and everyone close to them is infected by it so much so that speaking against seems unnatural. It is also extremely difficult for those that endured a same-sex abuse that leads them to question their sexuality. Sexual abuse has a variety of methods. While some often only consider a forced and aggressive experience as sexual abuse, there are more quiet ways like grooming. An abuser uses their relationship and friendliness as a way to lower someone’s inhibitions over time so that each act doesn’t seem so insidious but rather it becomes a regular way of interacting. Sometimes the abusing adult is just a third party in a cycle of events. A child they have been abusing may begin to act out similar sexual acts or sexual play with other children not understanding what they are doing is wrong.
I have worked in the social services field for 8 years now, mostly with children and teens but now I’m working with adults as a sexual assault advocate. While working with teens I saw a prevalence of sexual abuse to assault among teens in residential facilities. It would appear that almost all the girls had an abuse experience. For teen boys they often come into the DHS or juvenile justice system as a sex offender. I always felt that there was another part of the equation that was not even on the board, the abuse that was experienced by them before they perpetrated on others. Teen girls will tell you everything about themselves, but teen boys will never tell you that they were abused or raped. There are many precautions an agency takes to house an “S.O.,” but there were always alarms going off inside of me knowing there real issues were most likely never going to be openly addressed. In our current culture, many boys and men get swept under the rug due to most services being targeted to women and girls.
Christine Caine’s newest book, Unashamed- Drop the Baggage, Pick up Your Freedom, Fulfill Your Destiny, is so much of a gem for me right now. Although I’m soaking so much up I also know somehow that there is more to be revealed to me. The following is a short description of the book:
“Shame tends to wrap itself around our hearts like a net that can be hard to untangle. Wounds from childhood such as bullying, abuse, or divorce wreak havoc on our souls. But you can break free from these traps by clinging to God’s truth, dropping the baggage and living your destiny to the fullest.”
It is the third book I’ve read in about 30 days. It was no surprise to me that three great teachers all had books being released just weeks of each other. I saw this as divine assignment to read them. The first was Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst and the second, Without Rival by Lisa Bevere. As I progressed in each one, I was sure that God was opening up doors, opening up windows, and cleaning things up. Now, with Unashamed, I’m positive that God is wanting me venture past the gate [ 2 Kings 7:3-11]. Christine explains that in our life there are many gates we are afraid to go through. The begging lepers in the story decided that to have a chance at living they would be better off to risk their physical lives in the enemy camp.
(4) If we say, ‘We’ll go into the city’–the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let’s go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die.”
There are times in our life that we know there is opportunity, but we know we must let go of the security we cling to. In a recent short clip Steve Harvey talks of jumping– watch it here.
So with much hesitation, I write this blog post. I technically don’t want to and could live the rest of my life without writing it. God’s voice has gotten louder and louder. I’ve spent many, many years waiting for the right time. I’ve written letters to someone that I never sent and threw them in the trash. Countless conversations with my mother while we were in the ball park of the topic. I even had a coffee date with a good-good friend to tell her, but I stayed at the gate– I didn’t jump.
Last night I prayed that God give me the right words.
My heart races as I type.
And I pause.
When I was 4 or 5 years old a relative just a few years older acted out sexually with me. I will not say he abused me, because all of my life I’m 99% sure he had been abused in all ways. The memories I have are just a few, him French kissing me. I remember it was gross because his spit was in my mouth. I remember him laying on top of me with our clothes on, moving up and down against me. I remember him telling me, “I’m gona sex you up.” I at the time didn’t know what that meant but as an adult I remember an early 90s song by Color Me Badd. I could assume someone that knew what that line meant said that to him, so he said it to me in a similar context. I can’t be certain if there were other acts that took place or how long of a time period there was. Perhaps there was but I just can’t remember 25 years ago.
Once in high school, I had a conversation with a friend that triggered these memories and I’ve sat with them ever since. Never telling anyone. I never felt any negative emotions towards him. Never. I always saw that it was not done to me on purpose with ill intent. I believe without a doubt, that God was there weeping yet shielding me from any hatred that could have been passed on to me. What the enemy had planned for evil, stopped with me. He must of have been very annoyed that his plan was thwarted. I didn’t take what happened personal. My experience isn’t everyone’s experience. While others may have had a physically painful experience or had awareness that what was happening wasn’t right, I wasn’t physically hurt nor did I understand what had happened until I was a teenager.
The only thing I’ve carried are the memories that have made feel kind of gross. I wish I could go back somehow and prevent it. I still wonder if more happened. I want to know but I also accept the mercy of not knowing. I haven’t seen that relative in years due to him often being in shelters or jails. I’ve wanted to communicate to him that I forgive him and wonder even if he remembers. I’ve always wanted him to know its okay for him to forgive himself and that Jesus loves him deeply.
I’ve always been on the receiving end of friend’s and clients disclosing their stories to me. As a friend and as a professional I take it in and support them. I’ve always saw these women and girls as so Brave. Especially if they told their story in a group setting. I just sat there from the outside looking in, like WoW, I could never do that. Though I may have been among good friends, I still felt that it was something that would bring me shame. Controlling how people see me and how much of me they see has always been something I do. Whether it’s always wearing makeup while in public or never taking part in spontaneous offers because I wasn’t ready to be in public/with friends. I always think I have to be ready to be ready- I hope that makes sense. I’ve never been ready to Tell Somebody, but today I am.
Tell Somebody! And if they don’t listen, Tell Somebody Else!
If you need to find help, counseling, a mentor, a friend please do so!
Don’t let the enemy have his way of thriving in secrecy. There’s freedom from shame available, it’s yours already given by the Father- just own it!
I would be doing everyone a huge disservice if I didn’t share this.
From Mack Major of Eden Decoded.