Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Hide and Seek - Ruth Smith Meyer
Have you ever watched very young children play hide-and-seek? The younger ones are apt to hide in corners, their faces against a wall or piece of furniture, so they can't see anything, but the rest of their bodies, or their backs are exposed to anyone else. The hider can't see, so they assume the seeker can't see what isn't readily visible to themselves.
It has been my observation that as adults, we are much the same. Our short-comings, our character flaws or areas where we have some lack, we try to hide from ourselves by not looking at them--closing our eyes to what we don't want others to see.
Many years ago, I was part of a women's group that began to meet for fellowship and Bible study. We had grown up in the same small church and we were all friends. We decided to begin by telling each other our faith journey and a bit of what we struggled with in our inner selves. Each evening we had several women share until we all had our turn. In spite of our familiarity with each other, it was an eye-opening experience.
Each woman's story often contained bits that felt to herself, like deep dark secrets she had been hiding for a long time. Those revelations often were things that to the group were quite well-known parts of that person. It was like that little child, hiding her eyes when the rest of us could see the whole body, the hiding place exposed for all to see. The only new aspect was how the sharer felt about it--shame, dislike or despair, even agony--and a real desire to change.
As the grop continued, it was obvious that in sharing those hidden parts, release and healing began. Not only were we still loved and accepted by each other, those levels went way up because now we were all acknowledging the facts. Where, formerly, there may have been some disapproval and criticism of those character traits in each other, we now understood them to be part of the area in which that person desired growth and change. We rallied around each other to support each other's growth. Growth and change did happen! It was an exciting time that we still remember with great warmth.
That experience has been of great value to me ever since. When I meet people with aggravating personality traits, I far more readily see them as growth areas. Sometimes I picture them with their face in a corner, eyes tightly shut so as not to acknowledge what they don't want to see. It gives me patience and compassion. Deepening our friendship and trust level with people like that can often help them open their eyes and lose their fear of taking a look at the reality of their postition.
Sometimes I become aware of doing the same with one of my character flaws. I then am thankful for those who look past the irritation, gently pry me from my corner and encourage me to open my eyes.
Last night, I met with my writers' group. Only a few of us were able to make it, so although we did share our writing, we also took time to share a bit more personally. That group has helped me in my growth as a writer and as a person. Critique has become a valuable part of our coming together. At first, some were intimidated by having others make all those suggestions for change, but now the veterans welcome the input and look foward to the positive changes to our writing that the group can make through the process.
On the way home, I wondered how one could form a critique group for our lives. Yes, it could be painful at first, but would we begin to value it as much in our everyday lives as in our writing, if we could let others be honest and straightforward in what changes would benefit our lives? It may be a welcome and stable factor in our growth if we got used to its benefit.
In fact, probably if I open my inner ears as I receive critique in my writing, I may be able to make parallels to my attitudes, my carelessness, my first inclinations and reactions, even as I am receiving the critiques on my writing. Hmm-mm!
Author of Not Easily Broken, Not Far from the Tree and Tysons Sad Bad Day
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