Psychologists tell us we all wear ‘masks.’ We put on false personas to keep people out to one degree or another. In their awesome book The Cure, authors Lynch, McNicol and Thrall introduce us to three kinds of mask wearers:
- Those who are trying to convince everyone they’re doing just fine
- Those still searching for the next new technique; trying to find something that “works”
- Those wearing the pedigreed mask; self-managed security
They talk about two reasons people put on masks. Some people feel guilty because of their sins, their (perceived) social status, their upbringing, their appearance . . . any number of things that make them feel ashamed and want to hide.
And while it’s not inherently obvious, just as many others don their masks because of someone else’s sin. They get hurt but don’t confront it, choosing instead to put on a mask and pretend everything is fine.
Regardless which way we start, the inevitable effects of hiding behind a mask are blame, fear, denial and anger, just to name a few. The shame that follows is like an undiagnosed infection spreading poison throughout our bodies. When we put on a mask and hide behind it, we’re saying to those around us . . .
I’m better than most
I don’t care
I’m competent enough to be loved
I have answers others don’t
I don’t need them
I don’t need anyone
But internally, we’re not buying our own stuff. We’re hearing . . .
You’re an imposter
You always have been
You always will be
You may fool others, but I know who you are
You’re an embarrassment
You have no credibility or self-respect, you spent it long ago
Jesus came so that we could “have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10b). Have you ever tried to put on a mask for a party and keep it on for the whole night? Just about impossible to do. It’s claustrophobic, smothering and fake. The same feeling comes when we put on a mask . . . when we ‘fake it till we make it.’ There’s something inside that says, “Hey, this isn’t real. This isn’t true about me. I gotta take this thing off and come clean with myself. With her. With Him.”
“All masks are the product of pretending something in our lives is true, even if experience denies it” says The Cure. For years, I had no peace from mask wearing. “Mr. Up-and-Coming AT&T Guy” was never comfortable in his own skin, wearing so many different masks he didn’t even have a face. But surrendering to Jesus brought authenticity and identity, birthed and sustained by an undeniable sense of being loved by a Heavenly Father. Everything changed for me. It can change for you.
“What if there was a place so safe that the worst of me could be known, and I would discover that I would be loved more, not less in the telling of it?” The Cure
If you knew you would be totally loved and completely forgiven, what mask could you take off and throw away? Whom could you embrace instead of judge?
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