There are lots of reasons why we hide parts of ourselves. Some of them are old patterns, some are new, some still serve us, some…don’t.
Most of the time it boils down to fear.
We’re afraid of something: afraid of rejection, afraid of inadequacy, afraid of ridicule, afraid of being hurt when we expose our most real places. There’s something easier about exposing our surface layers.
But the challenge is that the more authentically we live, the more every single one of our actions becomes an expression of our deeper selves. Every choice rises from something larger. I know of someone who doesn’t order meat when he eats out because he only wants to eat locallyraised or wild caught, healthy animals, and he doesn’t trust restaurants to meet his standards. But it can be even simpler than that: what things you buy, how you choose to dress…everything becomes tied in, eventually. In a choice between a well-known brand and a locally-made brand of socks, the choice might be about quality or it might be about economics or it might be about price…but it is a choice that has something to do with who you are.
And so living authentically exposes us.
We run out of excuses for why we can’t possibly do the thing we believe in. We come face to face with our hypocrisies: is it true, really true, that I cannot live my values, or do they simply require a cascade of other, possibly difficult choices elsewhere? And which other values do my current choices support? It is not impossible or even uncommon to have values appear to conflict. Sometimes the conflict is real; sometimes a deeper look will expose a new layer of possibilities and the conflict will fall away.
But putting the self we believe is real and true out in the public arena requires courage and energy…and sometimes we just don’t have it.
Sometimes you’re too tired to explain why you have your kid in plastic diapers instead of cloth (or cloth instead of plastic). Sometimes you’re too occupied to deal with the extra “really, we can get you something else,” when you ask for water, so you just ask for a Coke. Sometimes you just need comfort food and you don’t give a rat’s ass that Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese has bright orange food coloring in it–it will ease the ache in your gut and that’s what matters.
And sometimes you have things that you just don’t want to show to anybody.
And that’s okay.
This morning I was putting away dishes, washing dishes, sweeping the kitchen, and trying not to feel guilty about how long it had been since I had last done those things. I know the kitchen feels better, and so I feel better, when I keep it clean, but some days…some days I just don’t have it in me, even though it is a tiny task.
And I realized, as I gently gave myself permission to feel whatever I was feeling while I puttered, that I hide myself–including my dirty kitchen–because I am afraid of not being loved. And underneath that fear is the fear of not being worthy of love.
Now I’ve said it a thousand times if I’ve said it once: love is not something we can deserve, as humans. Love is too big, too vast, too profound. No one can deserve love. It is a miracle, and you don’t deserve miracles because there is no amount of goodness or perfection in the world that could possibly deserve a miracle. It is so big, so unthinkably huge that all we can do is weep with gratitude and say yes, thank you.
And that’s sometimes the biggest challenge of all: yes, thank you. We’re not trained to be good at accepting gifts. We’re trained to believe that everything has a price.
But love, and all the graces of being alive cannot be priced. There’s no currency that can buy them. Which means we have to accept that they are not in our hands–that these are gifts beyond possession, beyond our understanding.
And all we can say is yes, please. Thank you.