“I want to play Hide and Seek!” her melodic baby voice declares. Her brown eyes sparkle with anticipation. Her body stands poised, ready to run off at my word. The part of me that wants to answer, “Again?” is quickly quashed, and she runs off giggling as I close my eyes and start to count.
My three-year-old granddaughter, Lacey, has discovered the game, Hide and Seek. Like other favorite activities, she asks to play it repeatedly. Her favorite part of the game is being found. Her eyes widen; her smile broadens. She is thrilled to hear, “I found you!”
Lacey is not particularly good at hiding, so I often pretend I don’t see her at first. If I do not find her quickly enough, though, she helps me by calling out to me. Sometimes she will even walk up to her seeker, grinning in anticipation of hearing “I found you!”
As she gets older, I am sure my granddaughter will get better at hiding. She’ll learn to blend in better. She will endure waiting in a solitary hiding spot, and her game strategy will improve. It will become more difficult to find her. Yet I’m sure she will still want to hear “I found you!”
Sadly, this won’t only be true of playing Hide and Seek. As she matures, she will hide parts of herself that she fears are not good enough. She will put up barriers and push people away to protect herself from hurt. She will become more inhibited and share less of herself. Yet she will still long to hear, “I found you!”
I know this because it is true for me as well as for countless others. We all want to be found despite obstacles that stand in the way. Often, we build barriers and defenses to hide behind, even though what we really want is to love and be loved. This dichotomy is a part of human nature, and it is a theme all around us.
This theme is obvious in the dating realm, which is full of hiders and seekers. Some play hard to get. They create obstacles to a steady romance to see how hard the other will work for their love. Others feign disinterest. They act unavailable or count a certain number of days before calling back. Some hide their true feelings to allow time to discern how genuine another’s feelings are based on how persistent and true the search.
As art reflects life, so many stories told in movies, books and songs reflect the theme of hide and seek. Many movies have a hero who must slay dragons, win a race, or chase off an old boyfriend to win the heroine’s heart. Similarly, many novels follow a protagonist who must prove his love until the final climax when his pursued opens her eyes and realizes that his love is true and she can trust him with the feelings that she has been guarding.
Perhaps this theme originated with the salvation story-a perfect Christ who seeks the hearts of the lost human race. The sinners who hide in their own imperfections until they recognize that their Savior is their one true love, the One they can be vulnerable in front of.
To mirror Christ’s love, the unconditional love of parents (and grandparents!) displays the theme of loving despite obstacles, hide and seek. No one knows a child’s imperfections and difficulties better than a parent, and no one loves him more fiercely. That doesn’t stop a child from thinking he can hide from or avoid his parent. Yet in a healthy family, he is always found.
Lacey, being human, may be predisposed in her longing to hear “I found you!” She shares the human condition that wants to be sought, to know that she is loved no matter what she does to thwart it. As in her preschool game of Hide and Seek, I’m sure she will continue to be thrilled when she is found.
So Lacey, no matter how well you think you’ve hidden, I promise that I will always find you.