“You can’t keep your true self hidden forever; before long you’ll be exposed. You can’t 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 there’s 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