Growing up, Hide and Seek was always an activity found at our home on the weekends.
We had the large spread of farmland, barns, trees, bushes and places to hide, making our place a favorite to play the game. My friends and I would be outside for hours, into the dark, hiding. We'd whisper secrets, as we'd wait for the others to try to find us. We would sneak around the buildings, heart beating quickly to try to beat the person who was "it" to the base. We would climb trees and watch below us as we went unseen to the seeker. Many times, my cousins, who lived just down the road, would come join and the game grew into an activity long into the night.
Hide and Seek growing up was one of my favorite games to play. I very much disliked being the seeker, though. I did not enjoy counting on my own and then calling out "Ready or Not, Here I come!" and then searching all the spots, while they quietly and quickly snuck around me to the base. Never the fast one of the group, I often had to be "it" several times in a row until one of my brothers would have mercy on me and take my spot. I did, however, always find an exhilaration in being the participant to sneak behind the seeker, reaching base and yelling out "Olly, olly Oxen Free!" (wherever that saying came from, I am not sure, but that's what we learned and that's what we said when we reached base without being caught)
I thought about this in relation to life. To hide is much easier at times than to be out in the open. To try to tuck my secrets away, to not share, to put myself behind a large building and curl up and stay there is much easier than coming into a place of vulnerability and "being found" or life being exposed. But staying in a hiding spot is not what I am supposed to do. If we all kept our lives and secrets in the dark, how could we ever truly learn from one another? God wants us to use our lives for His glory, and that includes the dark hiding spots, too. Perhaps not always immediately or in the moment, but often times sharing and exposing can be part of the healing process.
God is the seeker, of course. He patiently waits (equivalent to me counting while the others go hide) . He waits for me to be used by Him. He waits for me to come out. He waits for me to be willing to expose myself. He waits patiently, but He is out in the open shouting to me all the while "Ready or Not, Rachael, Here I am! Ready or not, Come Out! You don't have to hide now!" He is not playing hide and seek; I am. I am afraid to be "caught". I am afraid of what others might say. I am afraid of exposing my hurts and failures and being judged. And yet...why? Just like my brothers had complete mercy on me so many times in the game, So does God. He is the most merciful one. And in coming out of my shell into His merciful presence, I can openly shout "Olly Olly Oxen Free!" Because that is what He has done for me. He has freed me. From my past. From my sins. From my guilt. I put myself in the hiding spot, though, and curl up. But quite honestly, coming out of that place is so freeing. Because He can use it.
October was a painful month of growth and learning. While the month was full of many fun activities, the month was also clouded with times of decisions and obedience and discoveries. But going through a tumultuous month has definitely allowed me to stand strong, come out of my hiding place and shout "Olly Olly Oxen Free!" because I will no longer be held back by those moments, those times. I am free. Free to be me. Free to laugh. Free to enjoy life. Free to share my story with others. Free to be used by God.
And that is the most beautiful place to ever be.
Hide and Seek. One of my favorite games still to this day, though it's hard to find adults to play. Perhaps more of us should be less afraid to be the seeker. Both in the game, and in life. To first tell our story, but then To sit and listen to others. To allow stories to be told without judgement being passed. To tell others "Come Out! I'm here for you!"
Easier said than done, I know. But when you shout Olly Olly Oxen Free, you will understand the joy I am talking about!
One day at a time.....