“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? (Psalm 131:1, 2)
I have been more comfortable in not being seen. My first piano recital, at age 6, initiated me into shame. I knew the piece inside and out but I froze mid-way while performing. My mind went blank and I turned to look at the audience and said, “Oh well!” I began the piece again with my heart pounding in my chest and fearing that I might throw up. My mind froze and my fingers stopped at the same spot. My piano teacher had my music and set it on the piano and I finished the piece. I had failed and this began a lifetime of never wanting to do anything on stage.
The shame of not being perfect was deeply rooted in my body. The demands I placed on myself were set-ups to fail. My presence seemed to go unnoticed and I remained unseen.
Being hidden sucks the life out of your soul. It adds a weight to your body that over time saps freedom and joy
Dan and I went to The International House of Prayer July 2008. Our friends arranged an appointment in the prophecy room and there were six people who had no idea who we were. After ten minutes of silence, they began to speak about Dan and, once again the hurt of not being noticed hit me as they spoke about him. I was astounded with their words and I cried silently as they spoke because they saw truth and spoke goodness into Dan’s heart.
How did they know this? It was encouraging, hopeful and holy. Then they began prophesying over me. Once again my tears fell quietly like a warm Seattle rain in summer. How did they know? Each person who spoke emphasized different aspects of my life, but a theme seemed to congeal. One said, I had labored and trusted in Jesus through deep and hard times. What I loved the most is that each of the four men and two women ended on the hope that my public speaking would become like soaring on a swing and that it would become easy and without fear. One man mentioned the weights on my feet would be released and lightness would replace the burden I so evidently carry.
I have waited eleven years for the prophecy to come true. When I get asked to speak it is as if a twenty-pound weight is on my back until the speaking is over. Every year I would listen to the prophecy recording and it always encouraged me. It seemed hopeful even though I still carried that twenty-pound pack.
There is a profound and obvious difference between hiding from the truth and hiding the truth deep within your heart. To store the truth in the cool cellar of your heart, like canned peaches and rhubarb, is to anticipate the cold winter day when the succulent summer fruit is ready to be eaten.
The weight of waiting is in and of itself one of the hardest labors we do. It is far easier to be cynical and doubt what is promised or simply allow the desire to lessen each year it fails to arrive. There are many days when the loneliness of hiding seems less demanding than tending to what is hidden and not yet come to pass.
Before speaking at Legacy Cru event this summer I listened to the recording a few times in preparation of talking about my book and my life. It made me cry with desire…would this be the time I would not quake and feel like my tongue was light without dread?
The evening arrived and as I walked onto the platform I was calm! I remained present and without fear! I did not lash myself with demands to be perfect in appearance or in speaking what I had prepared. I felt light and free! It was fun!
Why this time and not the time before or perhaps, even the next time? On the campus where my abuser groomed me and set me up for rape, I told my story and my mouth was not silenced, nor did I succumb to having the breath squeezed out of me. I don’t know why, nor do I care how the freedom came to be this time. All I know is hidden truth always rises to lighten the load for a hidden heart.
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 42 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living!