Removing the Mask

For the last four weeks we’ve been focusing on learning to love and respect ourselves, make healing choices for our lives and preparing to make amends to those we’ve harmed.  We’re going to wrap up this month by consolidating all these topics into one area that is definitely connected to all the above… 

…hiding behind masks.

As the child of an alcoholic father and a co-dependent mother I grew up to become an approval addicted people-pleaser with a very low self-esteem. My adolescent friends were all very bright students; always reading books I’d never heard of, talking about philosophy and involved with intellectual and artistic endeavors. Books weren’t really read in my home, much less having conversations about them.

Constantly comparing myself to others while feeling totally unworthy, I looked for love and validation in all the wrong ways. I found it easy to slide behind a mask to be what I thought others wanted me to be in any environment whether at home, school or church.

We wear masks because we’ve never figured out who we are or we’re afraid others won’t accept us when they do. Either way, once we’re form fitted for our life mask it’s difficult to remove.

What does your mask look like? What does it say about who you really are?

  • Ms. Self-Sufficient: I don’t need anyone
  • Ms. Happy Go Lucky: not a care in the world
  • Ms. Unteachable:  the know-it-all
  • Ms.Too Busy: the important person
  • Ms. Barbie Doll: the sexy girl
  • Ms. Country Club: the socialite

Our culture and even the church make it very difficult for us to not wear masks. No one really wants to see other people’s pain. We can watch the evening news for that. So it’s just easier to put on the “happy” face and sweep our troubles under the rug where even we don’t have to see them. The dangers of wearing masks is we start to believe the facade; we forget who we really are.

Are some masks alright? Must we remove all our masks?

The masks we need to remove are those that cause us to present a dishonest appearance to others. To do that we must start by being honest with ourselves; assessing how we are putting ourselves out there for others. Be willing to risk possible rejection by sharing our life and our struggles. 

Sure not every person or even every situation calls for such transparency. But wearing a superficial mask all the time can prevent us from developing genuine relationships. We deny others the opportunity to encourage or be encouraged by us. Prayerfully we can ask God to put people in our path that can help us find our true selves, to press through the fear of rejection, open up and be real about our life today.

There’s freedom in honesty; it brings strong, long lasting relationships. The Christian Community should be the one place where we can remove our masks and be accepted for who we really are. But that’s not always the case. In fact, we are often judged more critically in church. With God’s help,  we can courageously remove our prideful masks, stop trying to be the perfect “saint” and allow the world to see we are really not that different. It can allow us to show God’s power working in our lives.

To be relevant in our world we must stop pretending and face life with authenticity.

What can you do today to be true to yourself?

Don’t let the ideal of perfection rule you. You are free…
“Free To Be Me!”

Loving Yourself for God’s Sake by Adolfo Quezada