Masks and Shells

 

EM Quote

You cant keep your true self hidden forever; before long youll be exposed. You cant hide behind a religious mask forever; sooner or later the mask will slip and your true face will be known. Luke 12: 1-3 MSG

My friend Alyssa and I were having a conversation over lunch one day about the masks we wear. She said something simple, yet very profound “You know that those masks were handed to us?” I guess I had never thought of it that way. It was a light-bulb moment for me. All this time I thought that I had fashioned the masks myself -  a little sequins here to cover up that shame, some ribbon there to detract from that sin, a patch of color here to protect me from the pain of that choice.

But, I started to pay attention. I did a sort of field study with Alyssa’s statement as the hypothesis.

I started noticing that I’ve been handing my own daughter masks for years. Sometimes she refuses to take them. Sometimes she hands them back. Other times she takes them reluctantly. I fear she may not notice the damage the “temporary protection program” those masks that I handed her will do until later in life. I don’t hand her the masks to hurt her, sometimes I think I’m doing it to protect her, but what I realize is that often I hand her the masks to protect my own image. That is messy and I don’t like facing that truth about me..but I must face it to allow healing to take place. Upon further reflection, I realize that when I am trying to hand over those masks it is because I am not believing the gospel. I am not believing the beautiful message of grace – that everything I need Christ has already secured and I don’t need to give my child masks to make her less than or more than to protect my image.

I want to go back in time and gather up all the masks I’ve handed her, to tell her to be her messy, beautiful mask-free self. As I sit here, though, I realize the damage has already been done, and to ask her to remove all her masks that she has used to protect herself all these years would be painful.

So what is a mother to do? I can ask for forgiveness. I can pray that God would so absorb my mind with his grace that I will remember that He who began a good work in my child will carry it through to completion.  I can be more cognizant of my words. I can ask myself “is this helpful or hurtful?”Am I trying to protect my image? Am I trying to protect her? Will these words and actions I use eventually be used as another embellishment in one of her masks?

I am slowly removing my own masks and letting the secrets out…I pray she can see that it’s okay to do that.

Last year, I wrote about the pain of keeping those secrets locked inside….

The Secrets in The Shell                        

I so want to tell you all is perfect, all is well

but at the same time I want to show you all the secrets hidden in my shell

I know that if I open up my shell and expose the secrets inside

That will be the beginning of freedom

but something keeps them locked inside

I think we all have shell secrets we’re afraid to expose

and it makes me sad that theres a real me inside everyone that nobody, on this earth, really knows

Is this really how God meant it to be?

A world full of people living in shells, afraid to be free

I wonder, just wonder, what it would be like, if just for one day we could come out of hiding and set the shells aside

Reveal the real me(s) we thought nobody could love 

Free from judgment, or hatred, or shame, filled with the kindness, grace, and love of our creator above.

Would the world break from the weight of those shells? Or would it heal?

“Love others well, and don’t hide behind a mask; love authentically. Despise evil; pursue what is good as if your life depends on it.” Romans 12:9

Christina

 

Memo to file: Mental Art Gallery

AGallery

“We store in our minds in a kind of mental art gallery what others have said to us.” Patricia Wagner

The following was inspired by the above quote and by Max Lucado’s sermon at Oak Hills Church on March 16, 2014

Memo to file: Mental Art Gallery

The historical society would not let me remove the works in the gallery that no longer served a purpose in the collection. So, an executive order came down from the gallery owner (aka God). Not only did he order those works removed, but he wiped them from the historical record. Then, he totally renovated the gallery from the ground up. He gave it a brand new name and completely new purpose. He directed the gallery curator to no longer accept works from the people who contributed to the old collection.

Christina Hernandez, March 2014

Note: He did not say, do not accept the people who contributed to the old collection, just their words that don’t fit in with the new collection (his truth)

Book Recommendations

OWLThe Lord has been highlighting the word DESPERATE for me lately. Those of you who know me personally know that I was in an extremely desperate state last year. Those who don’t know me, please read my previous blog posts and you will get an idea of what I mean. I love God and His word has been speaking beautiful truth to me now that I understand that His word is not about ME, but about what my hero Jesus has done for me – PAID the PENALTY for my sin IN FULL. In addition to His word, several books have further highlighted His astounding grace as I am on this recovery journey. Here are just a few:

One Way Love by Tullian Tchividjian helped me to realize we are all rebels, but that God’s love is greater still. The sermon series this book is based on is amazing.

Grace Walk by Steve McVey was on a free table at a retreat I went to. It redefined for me what the Christian life is all about.

Abba’s Child by Brennan Manning showed me that God meets me in my desperation and encourages me to remove the masks.

The Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie is a book of daily meditations that reveals that recovery from human approval/codependency is possible.

You’ll Get Through This by Max Lucado is based on the book of Joseph and reminds me that although it may not “be easy or quick” (Lucado), God will help me through the storms of this life.

More to come.

Do you have any book recommendations?

 

 

D E S P E R A T E

I haven’t forgotten what DESPERATE feels like.

Desperate

Broken is Not My Address Anymore

I’m grateful that Jesus was right there with me in the desperate state I was in. He loved me through it.  Nothing on this earth could quell that desperation. I had nowhere to look but up. I don’t ever want to forget my desperation – it is what drew me closer to Him. Jesus is my very BEST FRIEND.

Psalm 18:1-50 MSG

I love you, God — you make me strong. God is bedrock under my feet, the castle in which I live, my rescuing knight. My God—the high crag where I run for dear life, hiding behind the boulders, safe in the granite hideout. I sing to God , the Praise-Lofty, and find myself safe and saved. The hangman’s noose was tight at my throat; devil waters rushed over me. Hell’s ropes cinched me tight; death traps barred every exit. A hostile world! I call to God , I cry to God to help me. From his palace he hears my call; my cry brings me right into his presence— a private audience! Earth wobbles and lurches; huge mountains shake like leaves, Quake like aspen leaves because of his rage. His nostrils flare, bellowing smoke; his mouth spits fire. Tongues of fire dart in and out; he lowers the sky. He steps down; under his feet an abyss opens up. He’s riding a winged creature, swift on wind-wings. Now he’s wrapped himself in a trenchcoat of black-cloud darkness. But his cloud-brightness bursts through, spraying hailstones and fireballs. Then God thundered out of heaven; the High God gave a great shout, spraying hailstones and fireballs. God shoots his arrows—pandemonium! He hurls his lightnings—a rout! The secret sources of ocean are exposed, the hidden depths of earth lie uncovered The moment you roar in protest, let loose your hurricane anger. But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning. They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved! God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him. When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start. Now I’m alert to God ’s ways; I don’t take God for granted. Every day I review the ways he works; I try not to miss a trick. I feel put back together, and I’m watching my step. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes. The good people taste your goodness, The whole people taste your health, The true people taste your truth, The bad ones can’t figure you out. You take the side of the down-and-out, But the stuck-up you take down a peg. Suddenly, God , you floodlight my life; I’m blazing with glory, God’s glory! I smash the bands of marauders, I vault the highest fences. What a God! His road stretches straight and smooth. Every God -direction is road-tested. Everyone who runs toward him Makes it. Is there any god like God ? Are we not at bedrock? Is not this the God who armed me, then aimed me in the right direction? Now I run like a deer; I’m king of the mountain. He shows me how to fight; I can bend a bronze bow! You protect me with salvation-armor; you hold me up with a firm hand, caress me with your gentle ways. You cleared the ground under me so my footing was firm. When I chased my enemies I caught them; I didn’t let go till they were dead men. I nailed them; they were down for good; then I walked all over them. You armed me well for this fight, you smashed the upstarts. You made my enemies turn tail, and I wiped out the haters. They cried “uncle” but Uncle didn’t come; They yelled for God and got no for an answer. I ground them to dust; they gusted in the wind. I threw them out, like garbage in the gutter. You rescued me from a squabbling people; you made me a leader of nations. People I’d never heard of served me; the moment they got wind of me they listened. The foreign devils gave up; they came on their bellies, crawling from their hideouts. Live, God ! Blessings from my Rock, my free and freeing God, towering! This God set things right for me and shut up the people who talked back. He rescued me from enemy anger, he pulled me from the grip of upstarts, He saved me from the bullies. That’s why I’m thanking you, God , all over the world. That’s why I’m singing songs that rhyme your name. God’s king takes the trophy; God’s chosen is beloved. I mean David and all his children— always

Love,

Christina

Waiting for the Ball to Drop {A Poem}

Ball drop

I see it in the look on your face

I hear it in your tone of voice

I sense it in the questions you ask

I suspect you’re waiting for the ball to drop

You’ve seen it happen before

I’m fine for months and months then the despair comes

I can’t tell you all is different now, so I try to show you

forgetting that it is not my job to prove how God is working

I’m learning that in this life we will have trouble

we all have times when the ball does drop

but I’m also learning that there is someone there in the darkness

who knows me, my ways and my life story  better than anyone

and because of that I can BE STILL and KNOW that He is GOD.

Christina Hernandez, March 2013

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

A New Design

cropped-tina3.jpg

I have learned a lot in the past year. I am learning that my Christian life is not based on what I do for Jesus, but what He has done for me. I redesigned the blog based on this scripture:

“But now take another look. I’m going to give this city a thorough renovation, working a true healing inside and out. I’m going to show them life whole, life brimming with blessings. I’ll restore everything that was lost to Judah and Jerusalem. I’ll build everything back as good as new. I’ll scrub them clean from the dirt they’ve done against me. I’ll forgive everything they’ve done wrong, forgive all their rebellions. And Jerusalem will be a center of joy and praise and glory for all the countries on earth. They’ll get reports on all the good I’m doing for her. They’ll be in awe of the blessings I am pouring on her.” Jeremiah 33:6 MSG

A Reflection on Ash Wednesday

January Sunset

I Used to Think

I used to think that I couldn’t talk to God, that it was reserved for the priest, but also…

I used to think that saying my prayers (that I wasn’t sure he could hear) the exact same way every night would keep me in his grace.

I used to think the cross around my neck would protect me from evil.

I used to think that ashes on my forehead would show the world I’m holy and clean.

I used to think that if I could do enough good things that I would be saved.

What I Now Know

I now know the Lord delights when I talk to him like the best friend that He is.

I now know that Jesus doesn’t care how I pray, He just wants me to seek his face.

I now know that evil is all around, even in my own heart, but that Jesus paid it all.

I now know that it is not the cross around my neck that protects me, but the Jesus who victoriously walked out of the grave His suffering on the cross buried Him in.

I now know that my heart is anything but holy and clean, but because of the holiness of Jesus the ashes of my life can be turned into something beautiful.

I now know that I am saved by the blood of Jesus and Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Tullian Tchividjian)

Christina Hernandez, March 2014