Hiding In Plain Sight
I’m guessing that the words “concealment” and “secrecy” might be listed as synonyms if you were to search them online. For the purpose of describing the shame cycle though, I see them as not quite the same. Secrecy, which we discussed in great detail a few pages back, has to do with hiding ourselves: “I don’t want people to see me – even if they’re right next to me – because they might interfere with or make me feel guilty for my self-indulgent behavior.” I can almost hear the righteous among us saying, “I can’t imagine a mature person ever doing something like that; being that secretive.” But for those of us who have ever ridden the cycle of shame, it seems entirely fathomable.
It’s almost embarrassing to admit the lengths I would go to in order to conceal what I had done…again. I vividly recall compulsively cleaning the inside of my vehicle to make sure a video rental receipt was not mistakenly left on the floorboard or in a cup holder. Another time, I asked to meet with the manager of the movie rental store, and practically begged him to take off our account any hint of my having rented an adult video. If I disclose any more stories of my outlandish efforts to conceal my sin, you’ll begin to think I’m making them up just for the shock factor. Enough said.
Concealment, by my definition, is not about hiding me. It’s about hiding what I have done.
I reflect on the storyline of the fictional book, The Tell-Tale Heart, when I think of the concept of concealment. I can still remember reading this story way back when I was in 7th grade, and for some reason it has always intrigued me. It tells of a man who killed another man, apparently for having a strange looking eye. After having buried the dead man’s body under the floorboards of his own home, his feelings of guilt caused him to perceive that he could still hear the man’s beating heart. Although well concealed, the effect of the man’s actions still held power over him.
The man in the story is making every effort to resume mainstream life as if nothing has happened, but his heart is in turmoil from the guilt and shame of the very behavior he personally chose, yet ironically detests.
The word “justify” basically means to be aligned with the desirable result. When typing a document, we justify the text to the prescribed margins. In a court of law, to justify means to show a sufficient lawful reason for an act that was done. The Bible teaches to justify means to be proven righteous based upon God’s standards. I think you get the idea.
In order to return to the demands of everyday life, our mind must find some means of diminishing the relentless chatter of guilt and shame in our mind. Later in the book I go into great detail about God’s plan for us to squelch the insistent lies of the enemy in our heads. When in the throes of the shame cycle though, it seems God’s voice is only a faint whisper, if present at all.
Quoting C.S. Spurgeon, nineteenth century English preacher and author: “If the heart is foul, the eye will be dim.” What I believe he is inferring is that the more toxic our heart, the less interested we become in hearing and seeing the heart of God.
I’m pretty certain that every one of us has attempted to justify our wrong actions in some way, whether associated with our brokenness or not. My justification was a lie I told myself a million times: “My (first) wife isn’t interested in having sex with me anymore, so I can look at porn to get my needs met. That way I won’t put our marriage in jeopardy.” One of the first realities that smacked me in the face many years later when I was in school to become a Christian counselor was that my porn habit wasn’t the solution to us not having sex. It was the cause! This revelation totally broke my heart when I finally got to the place where I could admit that.
Regardless of what unhealthy habit or secret indulgence or sin we may choose, they all have one thing in common: They all lead to greater and greater shame, guilt, and brokenness.
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