Are we still hiding?
We may not literally use fig leaves to help us cope with that feeling of exposure and vulnerability, but the fig leaves we use are just as real. Nicki Copeland is learning to embrace the freedom God is offering
Fear. Even the word makes us feel uncomfortable. It automatically brings to mind things we’re afraid of and we start to squirm.
Some of our fears are irrational. One of mine is spiders. I have no idea why they fill me with such horror, but one look at one of those eight-legged creatures scuttling around my living room and I’m off, desperately hoping there’s someone in the house who will evict it for me.
But some of our fears are more understandable. Fear that something might happen to a family member; fear of losing our job; fear of illness or accident; fear that we won’t earn enough to pay the bills this month… and so the list goes on.
It was never meant to be this way.
When God created human beings and placed them in His beautiful garden, they were totally free from fear.
They lived in complete harmony with God and with one another, and there was nothing to be afraid of. There was perfect peace and joy, total freedom and fulfilment.
As we know, of course, it all went horribly wrong. Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the consequences were fatal.
Death, decay, sickness, selfishness and pride entered into God’s beautiful creation – and along with it all came fear.
No longer did humanity enjoy harmonious relationships with God, with one another, and with creation. From now on there would be struggle, pain and brokenness.
The man and the woman knew instantly that things had changed. They became aware of their nakedness, and felt exposed and vulnerable. So they ran to hide, covering themselves with fig leaves to protect themselves from one another, and trying to hide from God among the trees.
God’s heart was broken. His beautiful creation had been badly damaged, and the relationships that were so precious to Him had been ripped apart.
He knew exactly what it would cost Him to put it right again – a price beyond our imagination. Yet He didn’t hesitate: He would pay the price to restore these relationships once again.
And we are still running and hiding today. We may not literally use fig leaves to help us cope with that feeling of exposure and vulnerability, and we may not physically run to hide behind every tree we pass, but the fig leaves and trees we use are just as real.
One of my biggest fears has always been the fear of rejection. For much of my life this led me to try to make myself someone I thought people would like, and I found it very difficult to just be me.
The inability to accept myself for who I was made me assume that other people wouldn’t like me either, so I withdrew, and hid behind many trees, the biggest of which was the tree of Perfectionism – trying to live up to a particular image in order to feel acceptable.
It didn’t work. It was only as I began to emerge from this tree and allow people to see the real me that I realised they did actually accept me. And so I gradually began to accept myself. It slowly dawned on me that what people wanted was to engage with the real me, and that they would love me in spite of my imperfections. Authenticity is much more important than perfection.
What are your trees?
Perhaps you hide behind the tree of Power, and you fear not being in complete control of your life – and even the lives of those around you. Is that affecting the quality of your relationships?
Maybe your tree is Productivity. Do you hide behind busyness because it’s easier than facing some of the tough issues that are going on; or perhaps you simply struggle to say ‘no’ and end up totally exhausted because you’re doing too much?
Your tree might be Possessions – the need to find your security and identity in ‘stuff’. Yet the irony is that instead of making you feel more secure, it gives you more to worry about because you have more to lose.
These are just four of the six Ps I have identified in my new book, Losing the Fig Leaf, as trees behind which we hide. I’m sure you can think of others. But the good news is that God doesn’t leave us there! He waits patiently, with His hand outstretched, waiting for us to take hold of it and step out with Him. He longs for us to be truly free – to dance, to sing, to play, to love, to live in perfect harmony with Him, and to live in real relationships with one another.
I’m still on my journey. I have begun to step out and have dropped some of my fig leaves, and I’m still learning. Yet the steps I have taken so far have shown me the real joy and true freedom that there is in allowing myself to be who God has created me to be!
God is in the process of restoring His creation. One day this restoration will be complete, and life will be exactly as God intended it to be. In the meantime, let me encourage you to take the hand He is offering: trust Him, step out with Him from behind your trees and drop your fig leaves. I know it isn’t easy, but trust me – it’s so worth it!
Nicki Copeland’s new book Losing the Fig Leaf is published by Instant Apostle and is available from Christian bookshops and online retailers.
Nicki Copeland spent many years hiding behind various trees and fig leaves. Now she loves to encourage others to step out and embrace the freedom God is offering. Nicki wears many hats, including those of wife, mother, writer, speaker and editor. She is also the author of Less than ordinary? My journey into finding my true self.