“When I was little, I was afraid. ALL. THE. TIME. I rarely spoke. I preferred to play by myself than with other kids. I didn’t know how to engage people well. I was nearly held back a grade because socially I was very young.
My earliest memories are of hiding. Our house wasn’t safe. Some not so great people came through it and left physical and emotional scars that I’m not sure will ever go away. I became terrified of people. As a teenager, I was the quiet one in my group of girlfriends. Somehow I ended up with incredible friends who cared for me and about me, who’s families made sure I had somewhere to sleep, food, places to spend holidays. One thing remained true: they often commented on how quiet and hidden I remained. I never felt safe and I was used to remaining a shadow in life. I thought that was just who I was.
Recently, I was asked what was one way that Jesus redeemed something in my life. I sort of chuckled and said, “I don’t hide anymore.” He asked what I meant, “Some people have commented they don’t believe me, but I used to hide a lot. I was terrified of people. When I worked in youth ministry, I preferred to “disappear” during parent pick up time. Older adults scared me. I used to not be able to be in a room with an older adult or else I’d shut down.”
“Then in college I had a safe space, a place to engage the gifts and skills and bits of the story I had and use them. I saw good come from my grief. I was empowered to speak and share in a ministry regularly. I was even the lead speaker at a couple retreat weekends. I did some improv. I started a roller blading club. I began to mentor other students to grow, confess, and share the life and story God gave them.”
Slowly, all the little bits of me that were hiding came out, quirks, food preferences, needs, hopes. Not only did I talk and spend time with people and have meaningful relationships that exist to this day, but I felt I mattered in God’s kingdom. For the first time, someone chose me. No one had ever wanted me and I was made to know that. But God chose me and began restoring what I wasn’t even aware was there, the Image-Bearing stuff that had been beaten down deep inside me.
This friend was a little awed and in disbelief that I had ever been so hidden, afraid, and quiet. Most people are shocked. Some people don’t believe how I used to be since it’s so far from where I am now. That’s okay. The power of Christ is strong, taking what was hidden and beaten and restoring it beyond beauty, giving it worth it’s never known. And we are freed to come out of hiding.