I’ve come to the conclusion that up until recently, I’ve played the world’s longest running game of hide and go seek with God except I was always the one trying to find the best hiding spots.
As a kid I loved the concept of hide and go seek and played it all the time with the rest of the neighborhood children. All I had to do was find a great spot to conceal myself and wait until someone discovered me. Often, I was able to find those unique ones that the person who was “it” was never able to locate me in. And somehow I see the parallel in that now of how my relationship with God has been for a long time.
Growing up, I really didn’t think much of God. What I thought most about was what most kids probably do during their younger years which was to have as much fun as possible and to avoid homework, chores, responsibilities, and the blame for anything. The only relationship I had with God was the one in my United Methodist Church that I attended diligently with my family each and every Sunday in my nicest of clothes. And I hated it. My family forced me to go each week and the only things I can really remember about it were the boring sermons, the same worship format that always felt empty, and sitting through Sunday School dreading every minute of it. On top of that, at every family meal we sang our grace in a song, and at night, I was forced to do my pre-bedtime ritual of saying the “Now I lay me down to sleep…” prayer. What I never realized though was that during all that time, I hadn’t yet played that hide and go seek game with God, given that so much of my life was surrounded with connecting to a Higher Power. It was at the age of 17 though, when I picked up alcohol for the first time, that I found that first unique hiding spot from God.
Drinking alcohol and then finding drugs was truly one of the best hiding spots I had not only from experiencing that relationship with God but also from life itself. That period of my life lasted just over five years. And I find it rather comical to think about how those five years were similar to that of a game of hide and go seek. Many times when I got into one of my best hiding spots as a kid, I’d make noises after awhile when no one found me, all for the purpose of giving clues as to where I was. During my drinking and drugging phase of my life, often I’d come out of hiding for a few moments when life got out of control with my binges. In those moments I’d cry out to God to help me feel better. Other times when my exams were overwhelming me, I’d ask God to get me through them with good grades. There were plenty of other cases too where I came out of hiding for brief moments because of various troubles I was experiencing in my life. But in each case, when life settled down again, I’d go back into that unique hiding spot with the drinking and the drugs where I didn’t think much at all about God.
On the day I got clean and sober for good, I left that five year hiding place that had kept me hidden from God for most of that time. For a brief period, I sought a deeper relationship with my Higher Power as I tried to adjust to a life of sobriety and the fact that I had come out of the closet. But at some point, when those fears and pains lessened of dealing with a sober life and being gay, I found other addictions that were no different than alcohol and drugs. For the majority of the next seventeen years of my life, I jumped from one addiction to the next and each was like another special hiding spot in that game of hide and go seek with my Higher Power. There were plenty of moments throughout all those years when life got out of control and the drama became too great. In each of those times, I’d make all those noises to have God be able to find me. Most often, those noises translated into many torrents of tears and anguish filled prayers of saying “I’m sorry.” But in every single case, once I felt better, I’d always go right back into hiding from my Higher Power with some type of addiction.
There comes a time for most kids who like the game of hide and go seek, where they feel they are too big to play the game anymore. They essentially get tired of finding those unique hiding spots and spending all that time in those places alone. Instead, they trade in that game for doing more grown up based activities and living life in new and different ways. That moment happened for me at the end of April, 2012, when I had gotten too sick and too tired of being alone all the time and feeling miserable more than not. All those brief times I had come out of hiding and sought God since the age of 17, had proven to be the only good memories I really had during those years. It was enough to convince me that I didn’t want to play hide and go seek anymore with God. And it was then that I decided to permanently come out of hiding and never go back to any of those unique spots I had found to conceal myself from God.
Today, I can smile when I think of the times I actually play hide and go seek with my nephews when I’m visiting them. Usually I can see where they are hiding right away but sometimes I pretend I don’t just to keep the game going. It gives them an illusion that they’ve found some great hiding spot and generally it’s them who start making those noises to help me find them or sometimes they will re-emerge all on their own. Maybe this is no different than how God was with me for over 22 years of my life when I had found all those unique places to hide in with so many addictions? And now that I’m not hiding, I’m definitely doing a lot of seeking, and I’m finding that ironically, God really never goes into hiding, it’s only us that do.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson