Hiding Bootprints

“He threads through the forest with precision and grace, twisting, striding, hardly a twig broken.  On the ground there are still mounds of snow, sun-cupped and dirty, and slicks of mud-spring time, central Maine-but he avoids all of it.  He bounds from rock to root to rock without a boot print left behind.

One print, the hermit fears, might enough to give him away.  Secrecy is a fragile state, a single time undone and forever finished.  A boot print, if you’re truly committed, is therefore not allowed, not once.  Too risky.”

Michael Finkel describes the movement of a hermit.  A man who lived alone in the wilderness undetected for YEARS.  As I read this book “The Stranger in the woods: The extraordinary story of the last true Hermit”  I kept asking my self the questions HOW?  And WHY?…

Why hide from everyone?

How would you do this?

Wouldn’t the loneliness be enough to kill him?

On the other side I also think to myself what a joy it would be to relish in complete silence.  Maybe I’m not THAT different from this man, this hermit.  He wanted secrecy.  He wanted to be hidden.  There are times when I desire the same things.  There are times when I will work so hard to hide things.  There are times when the thought of leaving a boot print feels so risky.

“Secrecy is a fragile state a single time undone and forever finished.” 

We can hide pieces for ourselves from our spouses, communities, kids, parents, closest friends.  When we are hiding from the people closest to us it takes A LOT of work.  If we leave one boot print to reveal where we have been or where we are coming from it could all come undone.  The image we have projected to those around us can be forever finished if one ‘boot print’ is left behind.

I don’t mean that we are sneaking around on our spouses or our kids or closest friends.  What I’m talking about is how carefully we chose our words to be sure that that one thing about us does not slip out.  How guarded we are in what we say and what we talk about. 

It is great to chose our words carefully so that we can be sure we are communicating what we are thinking.  But when we chose our words to avoid things.  When our words become like the foot prints of a hermit and we are sure to not tread on certain subjects I’m not certain that is healthy. 

Constantly trying to stay in a state of secrecy can be exhausting.

Revealing things about ourselves can send us into a panic attack.

Is this different for a Christian?  Should this be different for Christian relationships?  Should their be such secrecy or should the light of Jesus shine on it all? 

Should Christians who know that ‘it is finished’ be so careful to not reveal things about themselves?

Should Christians watch each and every step they take?

Should Christians live in secrecy and isolation?

Christian relationships and communities should be a place where secrecy of who we are does not exist..yet that is not reality.

So often we hide things about our past deeds, present thoughts, or fears of the future.  We hide our footprints from the past, we tiptoe around present thoughts, and we don’t even glimpse into the future with the people we should be doing these things with. 

In Christian community, marriages, and friendships there should not be a desire or need to hide things yet there is. 

I’m not encouraging you to spill your guts to whoever sits next to you in the pew next Sunday but I am encouraging you to live in your freedom. 

I am encouraging the person who hears about someone’s past where they feel shame to look them in the eye and say you are forgiven dear friend.

I am encouraging us to look to our friends and say that I think maybe God is calling me to this thing without fear of failure or comparison.

I am encouraging you to live in the freedom of ‘It is Finished’.

Since God knows and loves us it may make it possible to come out of the woods.

Knowing we are fully known and fully loved can empower us to live in the world with out hiding our every move.

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