Bring Your Worst Fears to Reality and be Free: Part One

The Reasons to Lie)

The addict is a curious creature, utterly appalled at his inexcusable behavior, yet also in complete denial about it. Before acting out he minimizes the severity of the deed, reassuring himself that just this once won’t make a difference and he can quit whenever he wants. Immediately afterwards he experiences terrible self-loathing, promising himself that he will never do it again.

Now and again, during those shameful after-effects where he most strongly wishes to be free of his vice, the thought might occur to him that he needs to tell someone what is going on. If he is married, he might feel that he needs to tell his wife. If he is religious, he might feel that he needs to confess to a leader. If he has broken laws, he might feel that he needs to turn himself in to the police. If none of the above, there is still confession to those that have been hurt, professional therapists, or close friends. There is always someone that the addict could turn to…if they had the courage.

And it is this matter of courage where the addict struggles. For no sooner does the thought to confess rise up then it is forced right back down. He might fight the urge down through minimizing:

“Oh I don’t need to do anything as drastic as that! I just need to really try my best and I’ll be able to take care of it.”

Or he might come up with some reason why he can’t:

“I would tell my wife the truth…but it would break her. I just can’t put her through that pain, she doesn’t deserve it.”

Or, if he’s being more honest, he just isn’t willing to face the fear:

“If I tell, I’ll lose everyone and everything. I can’t lose my marriage. I can’t lose my kids. I can’t lose my church. I can’t lose my job. I can’t and won’t do it.”

The Mind’s Fear, the Heart’s Hope)

This fear is the real reason why the addict doesn’t confess. If he could have solved it on his own, he would have done it by now, and he doesn’t protect anyone but himself by living under a false image. The only reason that stands up to scrutiny is that he isn’t willing to lose the things that he has.

Is that selfish? Yes, but it is also human nature. We are terrified of losing our surrounding structure and that’s not always a bad thing. A healthy dose of fear keeps us from doing things that jeopardize our lives and well-being. The problem is that the addict’s fear is keeping him in a behavior that is destroying all the things that he doesn’t want to lose anyway.

He isn’t present at work, he isn’t working on his faith, and he isn’t faithful in his marriage. The things he is afraid of losing he is slowly gutting of their original virtue until they become an unfulfilling career, a hollow faith, and a sham marriage. So, in his self-interest, he is ironically destroying his own self-interest.

Thus, when it comes to hiding one’s addiction, we can immediately comprehend its root. The desire to hide comes from within the addict. It comes from the fear of losing himself. But now contrast this with the recurring notion that keeps returning to the addict that he should confess. Where on earth does that thought come from?

If hiding is about self-preservation, exposing is suicidal! As we have shown, excessive self-preservation can erode what the addict already has, but exposing his secrets seems that it will surely blow it all away! What possible reason would an addict’s mind have to conjure up an idea that is so against himself?

And the answer is: none. Because it isn’t about intellectual reasons. Any addict who appraises the idea of confession will realize that it did not come with a reason, it came with a feeling. The idea did not come from their analyzing, rationalizing, efficiency-focused brain, it came from the heart. Might it destroy the addict? Yes, that is a distinct possibility. But it just feels right even so. It feels like it might be just the thing to save the aching soul. Why? The addict might not have any idea why, but it just feels true in their heart.

Thus, hiding is to preserve yourself, but confession is to save yourself.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 31:26-29, 31

26 And Laban said to Jacob, What hast thou done, that thou hast stolen away unawares to me, and carried away my daughters, as captives taken with the sword?

27 Wherefore didst thou flee away secretly, and steal away from me; and didst not tell me, that I might have sent thee away with mirth, and with songs, with tabret, and with harp?

28 And hast not suffered me to kiss my sons and my daughters? thou hast now done foolishly in so doing.

29 It is in the power of my hand to do you hurt: but the God of your father spake unto me yesternight, saying, Take thou heed that thou speak not to Jacob either good or bad.

31 And Jacob answered and said to Laban, Because I was afraid: for I said, Peradventure thou wouldest take by force thy daughters from me.

In these first verses Laban sets out a strong case that Jacob has behaved in a way that is consistent with a liar and a thief. Why did you steal away so secretly? Why have you carried away my daughters as if they were captives? Certainly, Jacob’s behavior is that of one who is trying to hide something.

But people do not hide only because they are guilty of some crime. They hide because of fear. In some cases, that might be a fear of their guilt being exposed, but in other cases it is only a fear of the other person harming them. And as it turns out, that is exactly Jacob’s situation. He comes clean with exactly what his fear was: that if he was forthright about his intentions, Laban would wrest his household from him by force.

Fortunately, God had intervened to calm this volatile situation. The expression God said to Laban, repeated now in verse 29, is commonly translated as “from good to bad,” and it is a Hebrew expression that means to not try to turn or prevent another. Thus, Jacob was emboldened to be forthright by the knowledge that God had commanded Laban to not do the very thing that Jacob had been so afraid of.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:21

21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

When Adam and Eve discovered their naked shame they tried to hide it behind an apron of fig leaves, and we all do the same thing. We create all manner of guises to try and conceal the things that we are ashamed of. We might assume a persona of just not caring whether we’re a good person. We might try to overcompensate with a show of false piety. We might become depressed and define ourselves entirely by our wrong. We might try to distract from the pain with media or busyness. There are many ways that we make fig leaves, masks that are different from the authentic self we were born to be, anything that prevents others from seeing the wound inside.

But fig leaves are very inadequate clothes, and God provided to Adam, to Eve, and to us a different solution. The skin that He offered to our first parents is symbolic of the body of Christ. He invites us to surrender our mask, and replaces our shame with the purity of the Lamb. And this new vestiture isn’t about hiding our shame, it is about replacing it. Those that have been washed clean have a sense of being given a new and once-more-innocent soul. And one of the best analogues to that fresh feeling is pulling on a clean set of clothes, just like God gave to Adam and Eve.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:9-13

9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Perhaps Adam and Eve hid themselves first, but I must applaud their honesty in these verses. When confronted with an inquiry they came forward and clearly confessed all that they did wrong. “I was afraid and I hid myself,” “the woman gave me, and I did eat,” “the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”

I do wonder whether it even occurred to them to lie. Perhaps they realized God would see through it, or perhaps no such notions had yet entered the human mind, or perhaps they were simply choosing to do what was right.

In any case, as one who has partaken of his own forbidden fruit and then lied about it, I have great respect for Adam and Eve bringing it forth directly. I am never able to move on from my shame until I am ready to confess, and the sooner I have been able to do that the better it has always been.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:7-8

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Yesterday I mentioned how Satan uses techniques that are uniquely suited against each individual. We all have our secret weaknesses, and many times they are secret even from our own selves. We feel bold and confident, believing there is no chink in our armor, right up until the moment that he pierces us with his arrow.

Then our weakness is exposed and we are ashamed to discover this part that is so willing to trade all our principles for temporary gratification. We lose trust in ourselves, and we feel naked. Having seen this bare side we hurry to craft a persona to conceal it behind, an apron of fig leaves to prevent anyone else from seeing what we truly are. We hide.