Note to my dearest friends and relatives: The following is a true confession that I haven’t told very many people. You may find it shocking. I am sorry I haven’t told you in person. I love you. Thank you for loving me. You have been warned. Proceed with caution.

I tried to run away from home several times throughout my childhood. I say, “tried” because I wasn’t very successful. Growing up on a dead end road opposite a cornfield in the middle of the boonies didn’t afford a pre-license lady many exit routes. In fact, I may not remember how old I was the first time I tried to run away from home, but I do recall that I didn’t even leave the house; I just curled up in the hall closet for a bit. Apparently, my young mind hadn’t completely grasped the concept.

To me, the point of running away from home wasn’t to actually leave my family behind or to strike out on my own; it was to be missed and pursued, found out and brought back. I didn’t want to escape; I wanted to be caught. I longed to be reminded that I was kept, and worth keeping, that I was wanted. As it turns out, what I thought of as “running away from home” was really just a game of hide and seek that I started by myself and hoped others would figure it out and join in on based solely on my conspicuous absence. So, I hid under the pine trees or down by the pond until I got bored or hungry and then headed back home before anyone even knew I was gone—an idea that led to self-imposed feelings of rejection rather than the desired feelings of affirmation.

In the past few weeks (and, yes, even before Russ’ last sermon), I’ve realized that I never stopped playing solo hide and seek; I just let the game evolve. Instead of crouching in the tall grass or hunkering down in the dip between a few small hills, I withdrew my identity, the me God made me to be, deep within myself. There I hid, desperately yearning for companions who would seek me out without having to be told that I was gone.

I wanted to be known and understood without having to risk the vulnerability of revealing myself.

With each new game, I retreated further from my true self until I eventually lost my way. One day I looked up and realized I didn’t know how to get back home, to get back to me. I had actually run away.

My most intimate relationships have been with people who “get” me. They read me like an open book and understand what I’m trying to say when I’m not even sure I make sense to myself. I am starting to learn what people have been telling me for years: I am difficult to get to know. For some people, “getting” me comes naturally, but for most, it is a labor of love.

This is my confession:

I have been selfish. I have wasted time on myself when I could have invested in others. I have even hidden in the open, writing items that proclaim, “Here I am!” but relate, “Here is the me I want you to see.”

I have been arrogant, expecting strangers to lament my absence at a party I was never meant to attend. Hell, I have expected my loved ones to know and understand me when I refused to know and understand myself. I have simultaneously cried, “Come closer!” and “Go away!” I have held others at arm’s length and then resented them for keeping their distance.

I have been unfaithful to myself, my community, and my God; running from the Truth like Jonah bound for Tarshish. I have made idols out of, well, everything, placing myself and my loved ones, and even strangers and things, before God. That is a weight no human can bear, nor should he/she be imposed upon to try.

I apologize: to you; to me; definitely to any boyfriend I’ve ever had or guy I’ve ever liked; and to God, Himself; for being so wrapped up in seeking affirmation outside of Him and denying who He has made me to be that I have missed out, and perhaps caused others to miss out, on His glory as revealed in all of His creation.

I don’t want to lie anymore. I don’t want to hide anymore. And I don’t want to be selfish anymore. I am truly very sorry.

Here I am!

I am here.

Now, tell me about you.