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What Am I Hiding?

What Am I Hiding?Tree image

An Art of the Question Blog

What am I hiding in my heart and is it hurting or helping me?

One great use of words is to hide one’s thoughts.

–       Voltaire

The unbelievable happened.

But wait, I am getting ahead of myself. First things first.

For starters, you have to understand that Christmas at our house is a big deal. It’s a special time, a magical time. It generally begins the day after Thanksgiving when our family goes to pick out a live tree. Not just any tree. THE tree.

It has to be the right height, the right shape, the right fullness, the right … well you get the picture. It has to be right. And the jury who makes that decision is a stringent one. It is composed of my bride and my daughters. Tough jury.

So anyway, for the past several years, all has gone well. We go to our favorite tree-picking spot, clothed in jeans and scarves and coats that keep us warm. Clothes that we aren’t afraid of getting a bit dirty. Tree selection at our house is a contact sport.

The girls point at the potential evergreen, and I grab it from the pile of other trees, cut the netting from it, and stand it upright. I pound the trunk up and down on the ground a couple of times to help the branches settle and dislodge all the loose needles. I stand patiently, holding the fragrant pine or fir or whatever has caught their eye.

The girls circle about, looking the tree up and down like judges at a fashion show, alert for any dead limbs or large gaps in the branches or any other sort of blemish that would render it unsuitable as the centerpiece of our Christmas décor.

At long last, the selection is made for the lucky tree that will become the star of the Newberry great room until sometime after Christmas day.  We take it home and unload it. We trim the trunk so it is flat and able to draw in water, clip any unruly branches that might mar the perfect symmetry the girls have envisioned, and put it into our heavy-duty, very expensive tree stand.

Once it is filled with water, we cover the stand with a beautifully detailed tree skirt brought back from some exotic destination like Wal-Mart or TJ Maxx. And then the fun starts.

We begin hanging our decorations, and each of them brings back a memory. Some are carefully preserved hand-colored drawings, gifts from my girls when they were small. There are the bike ornaments from the year they learned to ride. Ballerinas commemorate their first dance recital. There are ornaments from trips we have taken as a family and still others from places like Russia and England where I have traveled on speaking engagements. By the time the decorations are hung, the tree is a bright and happy reminder of many wonderful events in the life of our family.

This year, as always, we stood back to admire the tree. And that’s when it happened. The tree fell.

Fortunately, we caught it in time, so it didn’t ruin the rug or crush the cat or break any ornaments. But it was a near thing.

I didn’t want to risk another crash, so I decided to reinforce the tree to make sure it didn’t fall. I put a bag of sand on the stand to steady the base. I got a bungee cord and wrapped it around the trunk to keep it from tilting, and secured it to a nearby cabinet behind the tree.

I didn’t want to mar the perfection of the tree, so I hid the sand under the tree skirt. I made sure the bungee cord was green so it blended in with the branches. By the time I was done, no one knew that I had hidden some makeshift supports in the tree to compensate for its weakness. Everyone else saw only a beautiful healthy tree.

That got me to thinking. What things have I hidden in myself? And are they helping me or hurting me?

The heart is a powerful thing. Things that we allow in affect us. They surface in our life as something that strengthens us or perhaps as something that weakens or even hurts us.

For instance, there is emotion. Some of us have deep seated hurt or anger hidden inside. This is one of the most dangerous areas of a hidden heart. Study after study has shown the ill effects of suppressed anger and hurt:

•Ohio State University found that those who had poor control over anger actually took longer to heal from a wound.

•The University of Washington linked anger and depression to every major cause of death.

•Harvard School of Public Health reported that those with hostility issues actually suffered from reduced pulmonary function.

•A study reported in the medical journal Circulation showed that of nearly 13,000 participants tested, those who harbored anger were twice as likely to have a heart attack, require bypass surgery, or even die than their counterparts who were better able to manage their anger.

So there are some emotions that are not good things to hide in our heart.

Then there is talent. Some of us are reluctant to let our true selves be seen. Perhaps we are fearful of rejection or being laughed at. Maybe we don’t want others to feel as though we are hogging the spotlight or trying to show off or take their position.  Maybe we lack confidence or are just plain discouraged. But each of us has been given a talent of some sort. It may be fundamental or maybe quirky, but it is a part of who we are.

bungee_cordStephen King is one of the most widely-read authors on the planet. His books have sold over 350 million copies. It all started with a little book he wrote in his “study” – the laundry area of his house trailer. Discouraged, King threw the original manuscript in the trash. His wife found it and gave it back to him, telling him to finish it. He did. The book was a little story called Carrie.

King, who was earning less than $7,000 per year at the time, sold the paperback rights to the book that his bride dug out of the trash – for $400,000!

Don’t hide your talent. Let it out and share it with the world.

And then there is wisdom. A wise man once wrote, “As you think in your heart, so you are.” What do you think in your heart? What are you feeding your heart and your spirit? What do you read? What do you watch or listen to? What are the seeds that you plant in your mind and heart, and what harvest will they bring?

The world is filled with plenty of fear and friction. It has dread and disaster to spare. We live in the middle of a never-ending barrage of negativity, sensationalism, fear and “what-if” scenarios. How do you counter all that noise?

Hide some good things in your heart.

Find some good things to plant there. Positive things, worthwhile things. Make sure that you read something every day that will help you grow. Scripture, personal growth books, inspirational articles. Search for the keys, the secrets, the treasures that you know will feed your spirit.

Make sure to filter what you choose to listen to. I don’t mean that you should stick your head in the sand, but don’t allow negative, fear-laced rhetoric to be planted in your spirit.

One of my favorite writers dealt with physical limitations, depression and rejection. He was beaten and even jailed unfairly. But he never lost his focus. He summed up his secret in a letter he wrote to some friends. Here is what he said:

“Finally, friends, whatever is true, whatever brings honor, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, whatever is excellent and is worthy of praise – think about and meditate on these things.”

What are you hiding in your heart?

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