Why do we hide? There are probably lots of reasons, but for me, it comes down to one pervasive reason: Fear of rejection. If I show my true self and you don't like it, then that will hurt and maybe I will find out that I'm not worthy of attention or friendship or love. So, I present to you my good self, mostly, and hope that it's enough.
There is an account in the Bible, in Luke 8 (and Matthew 9 and Mark 5) about a woman who really wanted to hide. She had been bleeding for 12 years and no one could help her. Bleeding for twelve years straight would be miserable enough. In those days, however, it wasn't just inconvenient and exhausting, but isolating. She would have been, according to Jewish law, considered unclean and been excluded from many societal and relational activities. Somehow, this woman hears about Jesus and how He has healed people. According to Matthew, she saids to herself, "If I only touch his garment, I will be made well." (Matthew 9:21). She touches Jesus' robe and immediately the bleeding stops and she is healed. Her plan, apparently, was just to blend back into the crowd and go home. However, Jesus has a different plan:
Why did the woman come back to Jesus and show herself? Because she realized that she was not hidden. Jesus saw her, knew her, and was calling her to come to Him. The first part of the process of following Christ is to come to Him, and one of the ways that Jesus draws us to Him is that He knows us completely and still wants us to come.
A definitive moment for me with God was when I (rule-following, straight-A, never-been-drunk, never-did-drugs, never-smoked-a-cigarette good girl that I was) realized that God knew all the hidden sin in my heart. He knew every critical thought, every mean impulse, every self-righteous judgement, and He still loved and called me. When I stopped hiding my true self from God (as if I could) I recognized and received the grace He was offering me.
The text above says that the woman told all the people what she had touched Jesus and how she was healed. It would be embarrassing enough in this day to stand up in a crowd of both men and women and share how you had been bleeding for twelve years. Imagine it in Bible times, when women weren't even allowed to mix with men during their period. Yet, once realizing that she was no longer hidden and was seen and wanted by Jesus, the woman does just that. Though still trembling, she comes out of hiding.
I believe that one purpose for marriage is to show us a picture of God and how He relates to people. When I read this story, it was on the heels of me being very crabby and not-very-nice to my husband. He gets to see the worst of me. If I am pursuing intimacy at all levels in my marriage, there is not a lot of hiding. Simply living with someone else eliminates subterfuge as well. We see the worst of one another, and yet we forgive and accept one another anyway.
I have also had moments of community in which the people involved have been able to stop hiding and be their true selves, sin and all. I think it is what God calls us to. He wants us to stop hiding from ourselves, from each other, and most of all, from Him.
How do we stop? ("How" is always my biggest question). What I see in this story is that I stop hiding when I trust and believe that Jesus sees me, knows me, and accepts me. If I know this truth and stay connected to Christ, I don't need to hide any longer. When I stop hiding, like this woman did, my faith increases, there is healing, and I can live my life in peace rather than in the stress of pretending.