I've been touring preschools again and sadly, somewhere along each tour the subject of "the lockdown protocol" comes up, a protocol in which both teachers and students are trained. This is the protocol where kids are taught to hide under their desks or in closets in effort to mitigate a threat in the building. My heart feels queasy just thinking about my babies hiding under their desks shaking in fear.
We were not made to hide. We were made to be found. We were made to be seen, in all of our vulnerable beauty.
This is why I adore playing hide and seek right now with my three and four year old boys. I begin counting 1-2-3-4...and they go scurrying down the hall in search of the perfect hiding spots. Upon reaching 20, I shout out, "Ok, here I come, I'm coming to find you!" I don't even make it halfway down the hallway before I hear the pitter patter of their footsteps as they burst forth, exclaiming, "HERE I AM! I'M RIGHT HERE, MOMMY." My heart melts. Every single time. "Yes, there you are! I see you."
They are so excited to be found. They have no fear of being seen. There is no shame, no insecurity, no fear to stop them.
"Here I am. I'm right here."
And they don't say it in an attention seeking way. They say it with a desire to be seen in the known sort of way; a desire for connection with me, the seeker. It's pure and innocent. Authentic. Vulnerable. Free.
And just as kids grow older and they learn how to hide and stay hidden in the game of hide and seek, so too it seems that we all learn to hide in life somewhere along the way. Somewhere we receive this message that it's not ok to be seen or known. Because we may be met with hurt or judgment or rejection. So we hide. We hide our strengths, for fear of being too much. We hide our weaknesses, for fear of being too little. We hide. And we get really good at staying hidden, shaking in fear.
But what happens when the hiding one is met with the loving eyes of the seeking one? When the hiding one hears, "I found you. I see you. I'm so glad I found you." Then perhaps the hiding one feels a little less afraid of being found, of being seen, of being known.
What if we met each person we encountered, whether stranger or friend, with the love of the seeking one, "I want to find you. I see you. You are worth finding. You are worth knowing."
And what would happen if we let ourselves be found, be seen, be known, really known? We run the risk of being hurt, yes. But we also run the risk of being loved. And that, my friends, is a risk worth taking.