A friend asked me a few weeks ago “How can you be so open about your life and your struggles?” She heard me share my testimony in my recovery program, I had begun to open up about my imperfections and inadequacies in our single mom group, and I have been writing about my journey through recovery from depression and codependency on my blog.
My answer: I no longer want people to love the mask-wearing, people-pleasing, false version of me. I want them to love the “real” me – the good, the bad, the ugly. I told her that I was exhausted living in a straight-jacket of the world’s expectations. It’s exhausting putting on and taking off masks all day long.
Last night I had a revelation after a lesson on grace. After meditating for a few seconds on a question about the grace I’ve experienced after my dark night of the soul, a thought came to my mind. Suddenly, I was that 7 year old little girl again watching a biblical movie with my dad (I can’t remember the name of it, but I’m pretty sure Charlton Heston was in it). It was the scene in the Old Testament where Lot and his family are high-tailing it out of Sodom and Gomorrah (Google it). They are warned not to look back at the “evil cities” that are being destroyed. Lot’s wife looks back as they are standing on hill a few miles from the cities. She immediately turns into a pillar of salt (or stone). I remember as a little girl feeling so sorry for her, for Lot, for their children, and for myself. I was sure I would have looked back too, and I was terrified. That image stuck with me for weeks…months…obviously my whole life if it still came to mind at 42 years old.
The revelation was this: before I started sharing my sin, my scars, my inadequacies with the people in my life, I was terrified. I held a deeply ingrained fear that I would turn into a pillar of salt…that being “real” would mean death for me. I’m realizing that a death did take place through these many months of recovery – the death of the false me, and a new life of trusting in Jesus is emerging from the ashes (or shall I say salt?). I realize that the shedding of masks I’ve worn for so long is a type of burial. A painful, but necessary, burial…if I am ever going to embrace the life God has for me, allow the light of Jesus to shine through my weak spots, and be loved for the REAL, mask-free me.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.2 Corinthians 12:9