Behind Closed Doors

By: Paula Briedis, LCPC, Therapist

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Your neighbors look like such a terrific family – all happy and smiling all the time.  Perhaps you’re envious that they have great bonds and just love to be together.  And that couple sitting next to you in the pew at church.  Aren’t they just the cutest thing?  All cuddly and warm and tender.  You’re amazed that after 25 years of marriage they still have that ‘look’ about them.  And that teenager – doesn’t she sing like an angel?  You wonder, why does everyone else seem so happy when you’re so miserable.  Maybe you’re doing something wrong – terribly wrong.

Your love life has hit an all-time low.  The arguments are escalating.  The stress is starting to take its toll on you physically.  Your children, well, one is constantly having to be rescued from his last ‘adventure’, another is surly and stays in her room all the time, and the other?  You are starting to fear for her future.  And you compare yourself to the others, thinking why am I such a mess and how did I ever get to this state?

Little did you know that your neighbors are collapsing under the weight of the father’s alcoholism. Sure, they appear happy, but that is only on the surface.  And the happy couple at church??  They are on the brink of divorce following the discovery of infidelity and addiction to pornography.  And have you looked closely at the arms of the angelic teenager – scarred from self-abuse.  Her depression and anxiety have overtaken her life.  Knowing what lurks beneath the surface doesn’t give you that same ‘Rockwell’ picture, does it?  What’s the problem?

Many of the problems we face today, in and out of the church, can be traced back to the fact that we don’t talk about our struggles!  Instead, we are left to try and cope on our own, and the problems are proving to be bigger than our abilities.  Perhaps we have been taught to ‘not share our dirty laundry’, but as Dr. Phil would say, how is that working for you?   Keeping it in only brings on more bad feelings and shame.

In Genesis, we are given a picture of our human response to having our problems exposed.  When God came looking for Adam after the fall, He could not find him.  Calling out, ‘Adam, where are you’, Adam reluctantly said something like ‘I’m over here, but I am naked and ashamed and am hiding’.  It is our nature to hide from problems!

But hiding from our problems only sends them deeper inside, creating layers upon layers of more problems.  Chances are that every one of us at some time could have benefited from talking to someone.  Revealing those things that create shame and a need to hide.  Perhaps we have all needed to have experienced the same thing that Adam did – acceptance and a way out.

If you have a problem that has been hanging around too long, or it’s getting worse, consider finding a safe place to work through those concerns.  Whatever it is that has you ‘hiding’, come and experience acceptance and assistance in getting out of that hiding place.  Come out from behind that door and see what changes you can make.  Talk to a trusted friend, your pastor, or a professional.  Talking does help!