I’m really good at hide-and-seek. You know the game. No, not the one you played as a child. I’m talking about the hide-and-seek you play as an adult. Adult hide-and-seek is similar to the children’s game, but instead of the guarantee that when you hide someone will seek you out, you hide and wonder if anyone will seek you out. That is, if you care at all. Most of the time it should probably just be called “Hide and hope nobody notices that they haven’t seen or heard from you in a while.”
This hide-and-seek is much less fun and much more depressing than the game we played as kids. The excitement of being found and the laughter, giggling, and screaming “Ha! I found you!” and “Ah! You found me!” is replaced by wondering if anyone even knows you’re hiding or thinks to look for you. When playing hide-and-seek as a child, you often choose a dark, isolated place where nobody else is, where you can’t be easily seen or found. But when you play as an adult it doesn’t matter where you are; being out in the open in the middle of a room full of people can be darker than anywhere you hid as a child.
I think if we are honest with ourselves, our intent as the hider is the same in both games. We want to find a place where it’s hard for someone to find us, but not impossible. What good would it do to find a place where nobody can ever find you? In either game, if we hide in a place where it’s impossible to be found and never give ourselves up or come out of hiding, we will eventually die. Granted, the likelihood of a child hiding that well and being that committed to the game isn’t very high, but as adults we can absolutely be that committed. This game may not lead to physical death for everyone who plays it, but if we play it long enough and are committed enough, it can easily cause us to die inside and lose who we are. It’s a dark place and the longer we stay there, the darker it gets.
So, when we find ourselves in that dark place, how do we get out of it? I’m not sure I know. I’m probably not the best person to ask because, if I’m honest, I feel a lot of comfort in that hiding spot. I’m not afraid of the dark and I enjoy being by myself, so it feels like a safe place. It’s a place where I don’t have to worry about much or be anything other than alive. But it’s not a place where we can ever truly be alive.
You may not have to worry about whether you are good enough, but you’ll also never know how it feels when someone accepts you for who you are.
You may not have to worry about whether you will ever be successful, but you’ll also never be able to appreciate the good things in your life.
You may not ever have to worry about whether you are going to let someone down, but you’ll also never know how it feels to lift someone up.
You may not have to worry about being a disappointment, but you’ll also never know what it feels like to bring someone joy.
You may not have to worry about whether anyone will like you for who you are, but you will never really know who you are.
To find our way out of the darkness we must focus on the light. Granted, it may seem like a microscopic dot of light in the distance or a flickering flashlight that needs fresh batteries, but it’s there. The light is always there and even the smallest, faintest hint of light will overcome the darkest darkness. It will still seem dark at first, but when we focus on the light and begin to move toward it, the darkness will begin to fade away. The closer we get to the light, the less we will notice the darkness. Our goal should be to get so close to the source of the light that all the darkness is behind us.
It won’t always be easy. There will be times when we hear those feelings of inadequacy, doubt, fear, and worry shouting out those familiar numbers, trying to drag us back into another game of hide-and-seek.
1…”You’re not good enough!”
2…”You can’t do anything right!”
3…”You’ll never be successful!”
4…”You’re a failure and a disappointment!”
5…”You don’t deserve to be happy!”
Those numbers being shouted at us are coming from the darkness, trying to pull us back into that hiding place. The difference between this game of hide-and-seek and the one we played as kids is that when we were kids, the numbers eventually stopped and the person counting would try to find us. In this game, if we listen to the numbers being shouted out at us, they will never stop and there is no “Ready or not, here I come!” There are an infinite amount of numbers and an infinite amount of lies that will continue to be shouted at us until it is all we hear. Rather than instinctively heading back to our hiding place, we must let it be a signal to refocus on the light. For when the numbers are being shouted out from the darkness, it is the light who calls out to us “Olly Olly oxen free!”