We don’t want to be “open books.” We want to be in control of who knows what about us. We try to hide the negative and the vulnerable. We try to keep some events from our past hidden, some of our views to ourselves, and our deepest, darkest thoughts are tucked away in a place of our own making, never (we hope) to see the light of day, never to be judged by another, never to be held against us. Even our spouses, our best friends, our parents, our children, do not know us fully. We do not allow it. We do not want it.
But is that true? Or do we really want to be known? After all, we can’t be fully loved unless we are fully known. We may be loved by another – but what about our “secret selves” – the part they don’t know about, the part we hide? Do they love that, too? How can they, if they are unaware of it?
To be an open book can be frightening. But ultimately it is what we want. We want to be fully known because we want to be fully loved. We fear rejection, but we want to be free of that fear. In this life, we may never be completely free of the fear that others will reject us. But could we possibly believe that God has seen all those hidden places, knows our “secret selves”? And still loves us?
As a former Episcopalian, I still hear the echoes of the beautiful liturgies and prayers of that time in my life. One of those prayers remains a personal favorite. It is a prayer offered at the beginning of the Eucharistic liturgy, and it basically says, “God, I give up. I’m not trying to hide anything from you. You know things about me that I won’t even admit to myself. You know everything about me and I’m glad, I’m relieved. Now cleanse my heart and mind so I’m free of my blindness, burdens and dirt, free to worship and love you.”
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid, cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love thee and worthily magnify thy Holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.