Dec 4, 2007

The Masquerade Ball

I truly believe that in our church today we have a problem with lying. Maybe we aren’t walking around with bold-faced whoppers falling off our tongues, but how many times have we answered the question “How are you?” with “Great! You?” while our hearts are breaking inside over an issue at home? Why do we feel that we must walk into church or into any other meeting with other women with all of our ducks in a row, neatly put together, mask in place? I’m not talking about spilling our guts to everyone we come across, but can we get a little honesty please? A little vulnerability?

I lived most of my life behind a mask. Oh, I never kept the same one for long, but I always had one firmly affixed. In high school, I wore the successful, fun, full-of-joy mask. In college and my early twenty’s, the intimidating, crass, I-am-woman-hear-me-roar mask. Later, I replaced that with the put-together, righteous Christian mask. You know the problem with those masks? In high school, I was hurting; I wasn’t full of joy. In college, I felt lost and defeated, far from powerful. And when I wore that pretty, put-together Christian mask was when I was the most broken. Yet, no one knew the truth. Behind the mask I was alone. And I was tired.

The Mess of Masks

The Upkeep
If we’re going to keep that glossy veneer shining, it’s going to take some work! I’m going to need to stuff my “stuff”. Subconsciously, it sounds something like this: "I can’t let anyone see what’s really going on, what I’m really thinking, my real pains! Don’t dare ask me about the very issue that’s caused me to put my mask on in the first place. I might break. One tear and the floodgates might open. I can’t have that! I’m good. I’m alright. Okay, I’m not, but nobody needs to know that. My business is my business and I just don’t want to think about or deal with my needs. I will do whatever it takes to keep you from seeing behind the ruse."

Ugh. . .exhausting! The constant, sheer volume of emotional energy exerted to maintain a façade of perfection while you’re crumbling inside is enough to crush you all by itself!

The Ball for One
You may have created a masquerade ball to attend; the problem is that you’re the only one invited. Living behind a mask is a lonely place. Nobody gets to know the real you, the genuine person you are. What they see is whatever you choose to put out there. The person they are getting to know is not the real you. And you know it. This breeds the lie, “If they knew the real me, they wouldn’t want to be around me.” You feel fake, misunderstood, and devastatingly alone.

The Contagiousness
When we decide that we’re going to camouflage our hurts with a disguise of perfection, it makes others believe we have it all together. And although we shouldn’t be comparing ourselves to others (another blog, another time), we do it. Consequently, when that woman who is going through a difficult time is looking for someone to sympathize with her and comfort her, all she sees is people who have no issues. She has no one to talk to because in her eyes, no one struggles like she does. In an effort to protect ourselves, we contribute to someone else’s pain.

The Host of the Ball

You know what I’m going to say. The one behind this entire ordeal, the one providing all the face gear, is the enemy. His words are ever the same:

• “Don’t let anyone in. They’ll hurt you.”
• “Don’t tell anyone that! It’s too embarrassing.“
• “Don’t blubber on. No one cares about you.”
• “You’re the only one with this issue. If you share it, they’re going to think you’re a freak. It’s better to keep it to yourself.”

The list goes on and on, but the feelings behind the words are the same: shame and a need for secrecy. Ladies, those are tell-tale signs that the enemy is at work. Don’t let him fool you! Stand up and refuse to let him talk you into a self-imposed prison!

I know that for many of us, we live behind masks because it is scary to think about letting people see inside. We have been hurt, ridiculed, and abandoned, but the walls that we are putting up around ourselves are not keeping us safe; they are keeping us imprisoned. In isolation. In loneliness.

The Most High Host

There is a gala for you to attend and you are the belle of the ball. It is a place where the Most High God provides the music. Zephaniah 3:17 says,

The Lord your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

I know it’s frightening to let people in, but your God is a mighty God. He can handle that fear. Ask Him to help you be comfortable simply being you. It’s so freeing. He also takes great delight in you. He doesn’t just delight; He takes great delight in you. If someone else doesn’t necessarily take pleasure in you, could you be content with the God of the Universe being head over heals in love with you? Accepting that love will quiet that unease in you if you’ll let it. He is so in love, so enamored, so delighted with you that he rejoices in song over you! Unfathomable! Why should I care what others think if the Alpha and Omega thinks I’m so lovely that He can’t help but burst out in song? And you know the best thing? He knows every single, itty-bitty part of me, good and bad, and still thinks I’m great.

So, girls, do you think that we could start chipping away at that wall? Could we start letting people in and being honest about who we really are? Not only will we find rest from the work of the upkeep, but we will find peace within ourselves knowing that we are loved for our true selves and not some false image we have portrayed. There is freedom in simply being ourselves. And do you know the greatest benefit of all? In taking off our masks, Christ covers us with His image.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory,
are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing
glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Cor. 3:18

How comforting to know that when I become vulnerable, when I stop the charade, Christ meets me there and covers my nakedness. What a gentleman.

Memory Verse: Zeph. 3:17

Father, thank You that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and that we were made on purpose and with purpose. Thank You that you love us, the true us, warts, bruises and all. We bring our masks to You and lay them on Your altar. Please consume them and cover us with Your love. Help us to be content with Your love and acceptance and to remember that to truly fulfill the calling You have for us, we will have to be ourselves. We love you, Jesus. It’s in Your name we pray, Amen.


Anonymous said...

I am so very very proud of you!

Your Daddy

Anonymous said...

This had so many jewels in it that I had to print it off so I could ponder these thoughts. So I'm not the only one that doesn't have it all together? That's definitely encouraging. Taking off my mask and letting Christ cover me with His image sounds heavenly. Scary but heavenly.

As always, love your insights,

Anonymous said...

My dear I never thought of myself wearing a mask but I am. Like your parents, proud of you!

Your Auntie

Anonymous said...

Misti you are amazing! This is definitely something I have been learning this semester! I love youre blogs and good luck with your writing career!

Regan Ray

Anonymous said...

Misti you are amazing! This is definitely something I have been learning this semester! I love youre blogs and good luck with your writing career!

Regan Ray