• Kathleen Van Engen


I remember it well. I was around 7 years old (I'm a lot older than that now), and I remember hiding in the closet crouched down beside my dads construction boots. I closed the door so there wasn't much light except for what was coming underneath the crack at the bottom, it was just enough to help me see how to unwrap the pack of gum I had taken from my mom's purse. I'm pretty sure I shoved a couple spearmint pieces into my mouth instead of just one, deep down I knew this moment might not last and I wanted to make sure it was worth it. I was getting that gum!

I wish I could have enjoyed it more. I mean- I wanted this gum SO badly! Why wouldn't my mom let me have it. It's just gum. She never lets me have what I want. I think it would have been better if I didn't have this heavy gross feeling in my stomach. You know when you go over a hill fast and there's that fun leap in your stomach but it also feels kinda weird? That feeling. Mixed with a little bit of "I shouldn't of done this". It's too late now- I've already taken it. Oh great now all I'm thinking about is what I'm going to say if my mom asks me where her gum went? How can I get it back in her purse? What if someone sees me? I didn't think this through. I can't just walk out- what if they ask me why I was hiding? Who the heck hangs out in a closet? I shouldn't have taken the stupid gum. I'm just going to stay in here awhile longer- maybe I can make it out with no one noticing. Ya. Maybe I'll get away with it.  

Nope. Busted. The door opened and there I was- crouched beside those big brown boots, sunlight giving me away and my heart in my feet. Guilt. Shame. Uh. This sucks.

I've had a lot of those moments since I was 7 years old. Heart in my feet, wishing I could take things back but thinking it's too late- the only way this thing ends is to either stay hidden or be found out. We humans spend a lot of time crouched down in the dark hiding in closets. You wanna know why it feels gross? Because we were never meant to be there and we DEFINITELY are not meant to stay there. 

You see, we have this incredible gift we were created with. This compass, that as we walk through the towns we know or places we've never been, it points us to where we need to go. Not always where we want to go, but where we need to go. There's a difference. All of life is either trusting that compass and following it's direction- or seeing what happens if we go our own way. Do you know why we end up hiding in closets? Because we think that if we go with our 'gut', if we listen to the people who love us, if we make the hard choice to head north when the compass says north, even though south is looking pretty fun- we're going to miss out. We want the gum. 

Every time we do this. Lying is involved. Hiding is involved. Hurting is involved. I'm convinced that lying is one of the world's worst poisons. It works it's way throughout every area of your life. It steals joy, creates distance, secrecy, breaks down trust, masks hope, and before you know it- you find yourself in a place that feels dark and lonely, and that crack of light shining in under the door feels like a place you don't belong, and so you stay hidden, waiting for someone to open the door and let you out. 

I've learned a thing or two since my days of gum stealing. I hope that by the time you're done reading, you'll either leave the gum where it is, you'll choose not to hide, or you'll open the door and let the people love you who are on the other side of it. I hope you'll let them walk you right back into the light. 


1. Domino Effect. 

A lie is hardly ever a single lie. Lies require a story, which means more lies. Have you ever tried to back peddle from a lie? You start to forget your own details, the story breaks down, so you scramble to pick up the pieces and you patch them together. The thing about rushed patch work? That sucker is gonna break down eventually. A lie is never as solid as you think it is.

By the way- withholding the truth? Also a lie. Telling a half truth? Also a lie. 

2. People. 

A lie never only ends up hurting you. It hurts the people who love you. You avoid, you change, you get defensive. You convince yourself that the people who love you are the ones who have got it wrong. You don't want the buzz kill of feeling guilt and so you try and either get yourself out of it without their help or you keep adding on to it so you can avoid feeling like it was a crap decision in the first place. I'll just have another piece of gum, I'll stay in here longer and remind myself that it was worth taking! Except it wasn't. Because people are always the ones who are worth it. Anyone involved in your lie with you, who asked you to lie, or helped you lie, or who want you to lie, that's not love. Love doesn't hide in the dark with you, love opens up the door.

3. You.

Have you ever felt better after lying? Have you ever felt like- yep, that was SO worth it. I am so proud of myself for taking what I wanted and if it means chillin out in the dark for awhile, oh well! I kinda like it here. It's cozy beside these dirty construction boots. I actually kinda like the musty smell of old board games. Yup. I'm living my best life FOR SURE. Not likely. Lies change you. The more you do it, the easier it gets. The more convinced you become that the gum stealing life isn't so bad. Those good people who are getting hurt in the process? That's on them. You end up pushing them away. And so you stay hidden longer. Your eyes will adjust to the dark and you'll start to be alright living your life within those closet walls. And you will miss out. You'll miss out on the right now AND the future that is SO much better than a couple pieces of spearmint. Life in light is so much better than life in the dark. I promise. And the good news? Truth changes you too. In the best ways. 

 Already hanging out in the dark? Here's what you can do. 

1. Stop hiding.

Tell the truth. All of it. When you bring a full lie to light- it can't keep you trapped anymore. There will be no piece of it to keep you awake at night or waste one more moment in guilt and shame. If you're lucky enough to have someone on the other end of that door who truly loves you- they'll work it out with you. They'll get you pointed back in the right direction. Maybe not without a few tears, maybe not without a few consequences, but the hard work to rebuild what's been broken? Worth it. Always.

2. Get rid of the people willing to hide with you in the dark.

There is a difference between someone who is willing to walk with you in dark places in order to lead you to where it's light, and people who just turn out the lights everywhere they go. Have to lie for a relationship? Get rid of him/her. Have to lie to hangout with that friend? Not a friend worth having. Have to lie to go there? Not a place worth going. Those aren't the people you trust. Trust the people who love you well. 

3. Don't go back.

Sometimes we get so used to living in our lies that the truth is what makes us more uncomfortable. The light is too bright. Well. Get some sunglasses and keep going. Don't go back to that place. Don't go back to hiding. Don't go back to trading your joy, your integrity, your confidence, your BEST relationships, for a stupid stick of gum. The longer you live in light the less likely you'll want to go back to the dark. You'll see the cost and it won't be worth it to you. That's the goal. You can get there. Run forward until you can slow down and walk. But promise yourself- it's only forward from here. 

The truth can be hard. "The truth hurts" they say. Well...not always. The truth can refine, heal, and the truth most definitely can and will set you free. I want you to live free. I don't want you missing out on this incredible adventure of a life because you believed the lie that the dark is where the purpose is. It isn't. Will you trust me? Let's take a step towards the light, you'll see. It's everything you've never even knew you could hope for. 

Always HERS, 


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