The Fear of Being Caught

 Genesis 3:10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” 

Shame is the impulsive response when we befoul ourselves.  Every act against God’s good will is degrading and harmful to ourselves, others, and our relationships.  It is inherently anti-social, tearing the bonds of mutual respect and trust.  So fearing exposure and rejection, we hide our faults because we deeply and unalterably need each other.  Without belonging and acceptance we wither and die, so we cover up our darkness.  But secrecy cannot hold back the harm.  It seeps out of us from every pore.  As social beings, our every act is a social act, we are all inextricably connected, so every private sin is a betrayal.  When Adam and Eve rejected God’s way, they rent the moral fabric of creation.

Unlike them, we have learned from our daily interactions that our harmful acts are not usually met with forgiveness and grace.  Even as children we are ostracized, ridiculed, and mistreated for things entirely innocent, things over which we have no control, things which God himself put into us—our kinky hair and freckles, our slow processing and sensitive spirit.  Such quick and easy rejection makes our true failings so much more dangerous to reveal.  But secrecy is a false remedy.  Instead of saving us, it pushes the infection deeper where it spreads, metastasizing in the shadows.  Exposure is not our undoing, as it feels, but our redemption.

When we pretend to be better than we are, we create fake relationships which cannot nourish our souls, which do even further damage to ourselves and others, pushing our genuine selves farther apart.  Our experience of others leaks into our perceptions of God, fearing that he also takes offense and turns away because of our shortcomings.  Even though we may think hiding from him is futile, our fear distorts the relationship, keeping us closed instead of open to him, making us cautious instead of free.  The healing of our souls comes from discovering that the God we fear is rather the God of all comfort, that God does not punish but embraces his failing children who come to him in childlike trust.  And from this deep, unalterable grace, we find courage to face a dangerous world and seek out those souls who are hungering for true, honest relationships rooted in grace.

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