One of my favorite movies about superheroes is The Incredibles . The mother tells her kids to protect their secret identities. Their anonymity will keep them safe. At the beginning of the movie they must keep their powers secret. They are not allowed to use them at all. This causes tension and frustration. They feel isolated and different from their peers. At the end of the movie, the family is happier. They have learned to reach the proper balance between the dual roles of super and average.
I have a secret identity, too. We all do. We put on our "super suits" every day before we go out into the world. Maybe our suits are comprised of make-up and designer clothes, manicures and stylish hair-dos. Maybe they are a shield made up of our talents and accomplishments. Maybe it is just a smile. Whatever it is, our public personas have one purpose, to hide who we really are.
That is not always a bad thing. There tends to be a complete lack of hiding in our society right now. People are so quick to reveal the crude and rude in their lives. They want to get sympathy. They are addicted to the reactions they get from shocking people. The problem is that isn't the truth either. It is just another super suit.
It is not necessary to reveal everything about ourselves. In the movie, the family didn't tell everyone who they were. They didn't stop wearing masks when they were acting as superheroes. They adjusted both identities so that they didn’t have to try so hard.
When we completely hide ourselves we are lying. It doesn't feel good to lie. It causes us stress and guilt, even if we don't recognize those feelings right away. We feel the need to keep up the act. We feel lonely because no one really knows us. We get caught in a cycle that brings nothing good. So why do we do it?
Fear. We fear being rejected. We fear disappointing others. We fear criticism of our flaws. Mostly, we are afraid that if we reveal our true selves nothing will change. We might still be miserable and lonely.
It takes a great leap of faith to admit who we really are. I don't mean telling everyone our dirty, nasty secrets. I mean admitting that we need help or that we are having a hard time with something. We might be admitting to our dreams and successes. We don't need to tell everyone everything. Talking to a trusted friend or two can make all the difference. When someone shares our burdens, they become lighter.
It helps to make adjustments to our suits from time to time. Maybe we don’t want to just stop wearing it cold-turkey. Others might have the very reaction to us we want to avoid. But as we make small changes, we become comfortable with letting people see more of the real us.
There are still some secrets, some aspects of who we are, that may never be truly known to any other person. Except our Heavenly Father. We can always turn to him. He is waiting. He knows who we are and what we are. He knows our flaws and our potential. Our success is his work and glory. (See Moses 1:39) We can turn to him anytime, anywhere, in any circumstances. He is there when we need a friend and there is no one else. He is there to encourage us and guide us.
We may never hang up our super suits for good. We likely will wear them to public functions and holiday parties. That is probably a good thing. There are times when we need that protective covering. Just don’t wear it for too long.