Poker Face

Have you ever spent time with a friend, relative or a co- worker in an ordinary conversation only to have it turn into a poker game?

You know, the conversation that begins innocently enough about driving your kids to soccer and suddenly spins into a poker game of calls and bluffs. “I’ll see your carpool and raise you an unemployed husband and a broken down car.”

We play this game of poker with calls and raises as to who is busier, more important and who can hide the pain, regret and disappointment the best.

There is no winner in this game – the house wins every time.

Unfortunately many of us play this game with regularity. We hedge our bets against the house and hope that this time we will come out on top.

We tell ourselves that this time we will walk away having cleaned up in the conversation with the know it all friend, the status conscious relative or über competitive co- worker.

What we fail to recognize is that everyone has “tell”. If you play against someone long enough you figure it out.

Our ability to maintain a good “poker face” is ultimately what hinders us in relationship with God and others.

We go about our lives holding our cards close to the vest.
We withhold. We self protect. We hide.

We counter with aggressive calls and raises in hopes that we can convince those around us that we’ve got it going on.

The longer the game continues the higher the stress and the stakes.

Over time, with hidden hurts, secret shame and unfulfilled dreams the stakes get much higher.

The more guarded we are with our hearts and our hurts, the harder it is to show our proverbial cards to one another.

We are so heavily invested in protecting our hand, that we will risk loneliness and isolation to keep others from seeing our heart.

We play this game with people and I would say that many of us play this game with God.

In an effort to be in control of something, we attempt to hide our hearts from the one who created us.

Lucky for us, God is the ultimate dealer. He sees all, knows all and holds all the cards.

Unlike a game of poker, God is more interested in the individual than with the game. God has already gone all in for us.He gave His son Jesus for you and for me.

He knowingly sacrificed His son, so that we could have freedom from the sin that keeps us separated from God and others.

In the words of Kenny Rogers, “You gotta know when to hold’em and know when to fold’em”. The Gambler.

Are you willing to tip your cards long enough to let your heart be known?

Grace & Peace ~ Karen


6 thoughts on “Poker Face

  1. Marni Arnold says:

    Gosh…how many times can I love this transparent piece of writing that oozes with such truth that is can fill humoungous jugs for what seems to be eternity?
    Seriously, you nailed this, Karen. This is laden with such truth…it is sweetness on my own lips. To many, this may be very bitter, sour and downright distasteful…but this is sweetness to mine, and I know it is to God. Because the truth is what you said here…
    “We are so heavily invested in protecting our hand, that we will risk loneliness and isolation to keep others from seeing our heart.”

    When it is all about the company of “I”, this is exactly what happens – and grace can never move in this space. (I sincerely didn’t mean to rhyme there…but it worked! haha) God can’t work in idolatry…and that is what withholding our junk from everyone else does.

    Jon Acuff landed it so well the other day…

    “God didn’t give you a platform so you could hide your story. Shine bright. We’ve got enough night lights, we need lighthouses.”

    He also stated,

    “Sometimes God redeems your story by surrounding you with people who need to hear your past so it doesn’t become their future.”

    Our junk isn’t supposed to remain just “our junk” like our society advocates. God has a plan with “our junk”…because it is all His anyway. So what are we hiding anyway when we do hide? Seriously?

    I am bookmarking this to remind me of this very thing when I get all caught up in moments of “my junk” and remember this very thing. Thank you for posting this Karen!

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Marni, Thank you for your words of encouragement and affirmation! I love that about your heart.  I spent a good deal of my life hiding and once I recognized what I had been doing I never wanted to go back. I work hard at “owning my junk” and daily leaving it at the cross with Jesus.  Thanks sweet sister! 

  2. Cindy Holman says:

    I really love what you said in this article – we must be on the same wavelength – because last week I talked about “Personal Truth” and when we don’t come clean with ourselves and God it is the same as a “Poker Face”.  It is funny how we think we can hide things about ourselves from God – when He ultimately knows it all.  For me – I believe I can sometimes hide and not confess the truth because it’s a lot of work to reveal and dig up the old junk that I would rather avoid and stuff.  And we can become very good at the “hiding”.  I have found a new honest place with God and it has been a refreshing walk and talk – especially about the things that really baffle and puzzle me – those things I can’t change and people I miss or have lost due to unresolved conflict.  Thanks Karen.

    • KAREN COOK says:

      Cindy – I was a hide and go seek specialist for many years in my relationship with God. He knew where I was the whole time, but waited for me to come to the realization that it wasn’t a game. There is great freedom when we bring ALL of who we are into the relationship with God. Thanks for sharing your experience with me! 

  3. Lauratheartist says:

    Reminds me of the song lyrics, “I knew what I was getting into when I called you…and I still love you”.  A song by Misty Edwards of IHOP.  This was a well written post and very insightful.  I feel the truth of it.

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