Hide And Seek

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 an adult 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, they are coming from the darkness, trying to pull us back in to 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!” 

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God IS

God IS Life.

He is the giver of life; we are the receivers of life. Though life is something we possess, it is what God IS. When God gives us life, He is giving us a small part of Himself. God IS life, love, truth, and all that is good. From Him we can possess these things, but only He IS these things. We can have love, know truth, and possess knowledge of that which is good, but only God IS truth, love, life, and all that is good.

Possibilities & Potential

Is there anything that has more potential than a blank sheet of paper?

Before a crease is ever folded, before a line is ever drawn, before a letter is ever written…there is no limit to what a blank sheet of paper can be used for.

The same sheet of paper that an artist’s masterpiece is drawn on could have just as easily been used as makeshift toilet paper.  The same sheet of paper that was made into beautiful origami could have just as easily been made into a paper football.  The same sheet of paper that contains the words of Christ could just as easily have been used for Hitler’s to-do list.

Every sheet of paper starts out as a blank canvas that can be used to convey whatever message a person wants.  The difference between books, art, and anything else has nothing to do with the piece of paper.  It has everything to do with the person holding the pen.  With every stroke of the pen the message becomes more clear.  Where once there were limitless possibilities, there is now a distinct message being formed.  With each word, phrase, sentence, and paragraph that is written the message becomes more clear and focused.  The blank sheet of paper that was once so clean and new, so full of possibilities and potential, gradually watches that newness and potential fade away as it is consumed by the ink of the pen and the words of the author.  When the pen is finally laid down, there is no more potential…there is only the message that is conveyed by the way the ink was placed on the paper.

What’s true of paper is true of life as well.  Every day is a blank sheet of paper in the notebook of our life.  When we first wake up in the morning, our day has unlimited potential.  We can send whatever message we desire with the decisions that we make and the actions that we take.  Our decisions, words, and actions define the message that we send each day.  At the end of the day, if you don’t like what was was written on the page, don’t blame it on other people or circumstances.  You are the one putting pen to paper.  If there is a page in your life that you are not happy with, consider it a rough draft and start over the next day.  We all have days where the ink skips and smudges.  We all have days where we are unable to get across the message that we want.  We all have days where we would like nothing more than to rip that page out, tear it to shreds, light it on fire, and flush it down the toilet.  Unfortunately, that is not an option.  What’s done is done.  Don’t obsess over things in the past.  Focus on the present and look forward to the future.  After all, tomorrow is a blank page with unlimited potential.

What We Can Learn From Turtles

If you want to improve your life, be more like a turtle.  Being like a turtle will make you happier, less stressed, and will lead to a more adventuresome life.

We are constantly being bombarded by information, input, and interference from all around.  The overload comes from a variety of places: music in the car on the way to and from work, cell phones constantly vibrating and ringing to notify us of the next call or text message, and our perceived need to stay connected to everyone we have ever met via e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter.  Like a turtle who disappears inside his shell, we occasionally need to disengage and be still.  From time to time we need to find a place of solitude, cut off all the distractions, and take time to clear our mind, heart, and soul.  This simple act can greatly reduce the feelings of being stressed and overwhelmed.

We also need to learn to exert more control over the speed of our lives and possibly scale it back a few notches.  Turtles tend to get made fun of for being slow, but maybe they are on to something.  Whereas our tendency is to allow outside sources to determine the pace of our lives, turtles live their lives at their own pace and do things at their own speed.  It seems that nearly everything we do has to be done at a certain time and in a specific amount of time.  Whether it is school, work, church, sports games and practices, or something else, we are constantly told where we have to be and when we have to be there.  Rather than let commitments and activities determine the pace of our lives, we should let the pace of our lives determine what we commit to and participate in.  Don’t let your schedule control your life – let your life control your schedule.  Find a pace of life that is comfortable and that fits you best and live life at that speed.  It’s okay if you can’t find the time to do everything.  Determine your priorities, commit yourself to those, and do other stuff when you can.

Perhaps one of the most amazing things about turtles though is the amount of courage and commitment they show.  Have you ever really stopped to think about what a huge deal it is for a turtle to cross a road?  Not only does it take an immense amount of courage for a turtle to decide to cross the road, but once he’s out in the middle of the road, there is no turning back.  A turtle doesn’t move fast enough to be able to dart back to one side or another when a car is coming, so they must have the courage to press on through the difficult, stressful, and dangerous times.

It would be much easier for a turtle to stay on the side of the road where he is at, especially when he has no idea what is waiting for him on the other side or if the journey across the road will even be worth it.  What if what is on the other side is basically the same as what he is leaving?  What if what is on the other side is worse than what he is leaving?  It very well could be the same or worse, but what if it is a much better situation in a place that is better suited for that particular turtle?  He really never knows until he gets to the other side, but if nothing else, at least it’s always an adventure.

Turtles definitely have the right attitude in this area.  I would encourage all of us to have the courage to take the first step, push on through the unknown, stressful, and sometimes dangerous situations, and see how it turns out on the other side.  I think that if we are honest with ourselves, all of us struggle with at least one of these areas.  Some of us worry about how everything is going to turn out when we get where we are going.  Others of us just give up when we encounter situations that worry us, stress us out, or seem questionable.  And then there are those of us that can never get up the courage to take the first step.  Whichever one(s) of these that you struggle with, just remember that if you step out, press on, reach your destination, and then realize when you get there that you made a horrible mistake…it’s not the end of the world.  If you don’t like where you end up, try something different.  You can go back to where you came from or you can set out on a whole new adventure.  Just enjoy the journey and see where you end up.

Be like a turtle.  Slow down.  Control your life – don’t let it control you.  Take time to get away from the noise and distractions of life.  Have times dedicated to refreshing your heart, mind, and soul.  Be brave.  Don’t always settle for what you know…you’ll never know what you are missing.  Don’t be afraid to take the first step.  Once you take the first step, keep going.  Don’t let fear or doubt stop you.  Enjoy the journey.  You only live once.  At the end of your life may the list of things you’ve done be longer than the list of things you wish you’d done.

And watch out for turtles along the road.