Wednesday, March 29, 2006

In Hiding

I have not had much time to post, nor much inclination. I’m not sure where I am, but it isn’t particularly good. I’ve been in hiding.

I think I spend lots of my time in hiding and pretense. I’ve spent a good deal of my life pretending one thing or another.  Childhood I spent hiding from myself that my mother was mentally unstable and both my parents hated each other. Consequently I had to hide them from my friends and pretend that I had a normal home life, one that wasn’t full of screaming, paranoiac rants and emotional violence. In college I hid behind a carefully constructed counter-culture image. It’s rather nice to instantly repel the people you would least like to talk to, simply by wearing certain clothes and dyeing your hair. I could hide my amazingly shy and self-conscious self behind a grand display of plumage. I started work I had to pretend that I was competent, or assertive, or downright aggressive, as the job demanded. Then I had to pretend that I knew how to be a mom.  I’m still pretending that.

Now, at work I pretend that I’m a conservative, orthodox Christian.  I bite my tongue and find myself fighting my own cynicism and negativity.  When they start bashing Democrats and liberals, I sometimes feel like screaming, “You’re talking about someone like me!” The people I work with are wonderful, caring people. They love God passionately. I doubt I would find another job where my employers are so understanding about the need for moms to take off for sick children and school events. But there is no way on earth I could ever be real with any of them.  I don’t express my true views about anything: parenting, women clergy, homosexuality, the war in Iraq, President Bush, immigration, biblical inerrancy, evolution, predestination, sovereignty.  The list goes on.  My beliefs about any of these would find me on the wrong side of the fence.  I spoke with someone who mentioned that a vote would be taken by Denomination X on ordaining homosexual clergy, and that he knew for a fact that a lot of people in Denomination X weren’t even Christian.  There is a lot of talk about “true Christians.” Who is and isn’t in the camp. Do you go to church every week? The right church—an orthodox reformed church with no taint of liberal theology? Read the Bible every day? Vote Republican? Believe that creationism should be taught in school and that the United States should make Christianity the state religion? Think that homosexuals should be barred from certain jobs and denied partnership rights (but loved, oh yes, they should be lovingly taught their essential wrongness)? You might pass.

I don’t pass, not nohow, not noway.


  1. I stay in hiding to at times ever since my divorce three years ago I want to just hide. I even deleted my blog My life in Bonanza because of my wanting to hide because it was not me at times. But with the help of God almight I have come around alot since my divoce. God bless

  2. Wow, it's just too bad you have to hide like that...but I can sure relate at some points.

  3. “I don’t express my true views about anything: parenting, women clergy, homosexuality, the war in Iraq, President Bush, immigration, biblical inerrancy, evolution, predestination, sovereignty.”

    Holy smokes Batman-ur- Bad Alice, I can say the exact same thing of myself. It’s amazing, speaking of my situation, while serving in a denomination that traditionally values separation of church and state, pacifism, and individual conscience and competency with matters of biblical interpretation . . . those very ear marks are often overlooked and minimized in actual church fellowship and church inclusion. Although I do push the boundaries and (try to) slyly challenge people on such topics in my preaching attempts.

    So I have to be stealth and subversive . . . The way Eugene Petterson describes in his book the Contemplative Pastor . . . unfortunately too many Christians are unable (unwilling) to process or analytically evaluate any notion outside of their limited and finite boxed-in theology that they grew up with or dogmatically swallowed hook line and sinker.

    “There is a lot of talk about ‘true Christians.’”

    In Scripture it’s striking that those who talked about who was in and who was out were often on the outside . . . We should be slow and careful before judging. God’s grace and inclusion will no doubt blow us away. Such thinking places too much emphasis on the idea that salvation and being in God’s will is some kind of mental-intellectual- acceptance of propositional truths . . . YUK . . .

    At this point I would recommend a recent book entitled A Generous Orthodoxy by Mclaren . . . helpful read.

    Sorry for the long comment . . . you hit a chord on my guitar I like to play!

  4. Everyone in this world I think no matter how much they claim to be visible, are hiding from something so don't feel so bad.
    Religion, I am a catholic but I still respect other people's belief in other kinds of religion.
    Reading the Bible, I very seldom read the Bible.

  5. In being real, a person risks being criticized or rejected. Our thoughts might be challenged but this is a good thing. I am only starting to learn this, I am normally a hider, as well.
    Good honest post.

  6. Thank you for your openess, I can relate to both your childhood experience (my father was an alchholic) and your work experience... just recently I have started to express my views, and I'm never sure whether that was the right thing to do or not, but I too am tired of feeling like I must tow the "party line". I guess the secret is to discover how to express what is an authentic faith ...inspite of those who would claim it was bogus because it does not fit with their beliefs..
    Thank you again you are one brave lady (((O)))

  7. I can relate to the church upbringing (different denomination but same attitudes) and to the dysfunctional family. For me, prayer was the real lifeline. Hang in there and may Love bless you.

  8. I think it's clear that we all have our own ways of "hiding", for whatever reasons. But even admitting it is a bold sort of honesty.

    As tightly wound as your co-workers sound, maybe you're putting them into a box - or at least helping them to stay in it - by not being more authentic to your beliefs. True values, honestly, gently and lovingly expressed can sometimes bring about amazing surprises. But I totally get why you do it. It's why I keep my mouth shut at Thanksgiving with the fundies.

    As for pretending to be a mom, I think we're all making it up as we go along. The real posers are the ones who pretend everything, including their kids, is perfect. I'd rather be around people like you who are honest about it!

    Love to you.

  9. Hiding is easier than risking or facing rejection. We all do it. That's why the anonymity of the world wide web is so popular, and so important. By putting on one mask, we can drop all others.

    I've found that, especially in matters of Christianity (and religion or politics in general), it's futile to hope that everyone will agree on anything, even within a "like-minded" group of people. I just try to form my own opinions and respect my own decision-making skills enough to stand by them. If others don't agree with me, so be it.

    That said, there are always times when I choose to keep my mouth shut because keeping the peace is more important than voicing an opinion. LOL, I choose to think of that as "wisdom" rather than "hiding." :)

  10. I hid as a kid. I'm out of hiding now. I went through a phase of being really aggressive, kind of opposite to hiding, I said what came to my mind, and I did not care if it hurt - believed I was speaking the truth :-). I've balanced out, or rather I asked God to balance me out. Reading God's Word daily, no matter what, really helps to balance life out. Trust me, it does. God does speak you know, even when we feel really awful, and angry, and in pain. He speaks through His Word.

    Isaiah 58 has been on my mind lately (and particularly for Jeff). It's about the kind of fast that we need to have. It is a liberating fast. It's about serving others, as we can so easily get caught up in me, me, me... how we're feeling.

    Don't hide, Beautiful Alice, God's plans cannot be fulfilled without YOU!

    Taking a stand as a believer is always hard. Got to the point now where I am willing to take the flak, the laughs etc, if God says it's okay. Not easy, no...

    Can we lure you out of hiding....?

  11. I can relate at many points. As for politics...I used to work in a place where every single person seemed to be an extremely liberal Democrat, and I was a sort of moderate Republican. It was the same as you, only in reverse. And it was HARD. DId I speak up? Not often. I chose my "essentials" and spoke up once in a while. Otherwise I'd have been arguing all the time.

  12. I know what hiding feels like. I know what not hiding feels like too. I think we somehow are always hiding something so that our head doesn't explode. I am learning to speak up but often I am shocked by what the other person said and I can't get my tongue and brain to work quick enough to say something. I have this friend who will speak up but she does it in an offhand way. She says her piece and then goes on to talk about something else and the sentence she said swirls around in your brain because you know it was something profound and challenging. I'd like to be like that but often when I do speak up I want to change the other person. I don't like that about me.

    This was a really good and honest post.

  13. Seriously? This is really sad - there's about a dozen comments here from people who are, or were, in hiding also. Yes. I am right there with you.

    So why are we hiding? God knows we're not perfect - would you send your son to certain death because someone else was on the 'edge' of perfection? Heck, no! He knows we are REALLY messed up. He gave us the Holy Spirit for that reason - Mighty Counselor.
    Satan loves to use this pressure of 'having to look or act a certain way' in order to keep us shamed and shackled. So I applaud you...for bringing it all out into the light, regardless of how we are 'supposed' to look...and for all the rest of us hidden people - at least we all know that there are many others out there who experience this same kind of crap - which is also good, since Satan wants to isolate us - so his voice is the only one we're hearing.
    Heavenly Father,
    I lift up Bad Alice to you and all the other people who are in hiding right now and I ask that You strip away the shame, the pressure, the pride and anything else that is putting distance between ourselves and You. Lord I ask that You would silence the lies of the enemy and that You would speak truth into our lives. I pray that You would lift us up out of the pit and that You would give us all a clear reflection of who we are and our worth in You.

  14. There are more of us than you think. I think we do have to stand up more. I actually put up a countdown to how many more days Bush has in office on my blog.

    I don't think either party has it right. But the democratic party has more social justice issues that are met. You can be Christian, for me-Catholic, pro-life and a democrat. Fist time to your blog. I just hit this post and I know I am going to love coming back.

  15. Thank you everyone for your wonderful, smart, honest comments. They are such a blessing to me.

  16. hiding seems easier, but I wonder about the real toll it takes. i'm lucky, i live in a very liberal town (oh, those poor church going republicans kinda hafta hide around here) and i don't have to hide -- even at work. But I work at a public university, so there you go.

    extremism either way causes folks to hide, and that's too bad. we miss out on their essential selves, and that makes all of us poorer.

    come out, come out, wherever you are!

  17. Boy...this sounds familiar.
    I worked somewhere once where they were...just mean. When I became "the boss" I mentioned that this kind of talk was divisive and may turn off our customers and I would appreciate if they'd knock it off!
    'Course if I had a nickel for everytime I bit my tongue...

  18. You know, your writings remind me of Alice Sebold. Have you read anything by her?

  19. I hid behind a lot of things when I was younger. Still do. Sometimes I even try to hide from G-d; naturally, he always seems to find me.