Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Masks We Wear

We all wear masks now and then don't we?

*We receive devastating news just before our children are coming home from school; but we manage to hold it together so they don't bear the brunt of our emotions.

*Traveling downtown NYC we pretend that we know exactly where we are going because interviewed criminals have stated that they look for those who appear vulnerable. (Although we may be praying the entire time that we have the directions right.)

*Someone has offended us; but we are trying to act as though they haven't; that everything is perfectly o.k.

*We want to appear like a "good Christian" during difficult times so we hide our real feelings and the deep questions of our hearts. (For a deeper look at this mask, click here.)

You get the idea. Some of these masks are beneficial for a moment in time; possibly even for a season. But others...others allow us to stuff our emotions. To hide out. To disguise our true selves and ultimately cause chasms to grow between our relationships.

Consider a fabulous facial mask made by Arbonne. The "Sea Mud Face and Body Mask" (part of their Detox Spa Line) is said to do the following:

"The detoxifying actions of sea mud and bentonite clay help draw out impurities as they absorb excess oil from the skin. Also suited for oily skin to help prevent clogged pores, blackheads and blemishes. Helps detoxify and condition the skin's surface. It wraps you in comfort and leaves your skin glowing." (Bold emphasis mine.)

I actually use this particular face mask, and can see improvement when I do; but what if I left this fabulous mask on too long? It is recommended for 5-10 minutes. What if I left it on my face for a whole day? What about a week?

Even just after the 10 minutes my face is hardened. Almost immobilized. I can only partially smile. My laughter sounds different. My communication with others is limited because I am uncomfortable talking and earlier today while I had this mask on, my daughter even said, "I'll come back later after you wash it off so you can talk better."

All I can smell is the mask. Although it is a nice fragrance; I would miss the ability to smell other things with clarity. Can you see where I am going with this?

Even beneficial "masks" left on too long will cause damage. What began as a good thing; can now be harming us. Some masks can cause damage to ourselves, our relationships, and to our souls.

We are not meant to hide behind masks. God calls us to "cast our cares upon Him."

Also as the body of Christ, we are commanded to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2

What is Christ's law and how is it fulfilled? "For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "you shall love your neighbor as yourself." (Galatians 5:14) If we love our neighbor as ourselves; then we will be willing to bear one another's burdens without judgment and condemnation; but in love.

Would you do something for me today? Would you just take a minute or two and look yourself in the mirror and allow yourself to be real with yourself about the masks that you are wearing? Trust me, it won't take long. If you allow yourself to be open they will flood to your mind.

After you have identified your masks. Ask yourself: "Is this mask beneficial or not?" Even if you answer that it has been beneficial; check to see if it has been left on too long.

Talk to God about the masks that you are wearing. It doesn't matter where you are in your relationship with Him. Even if it feels that you are separated by a thousand miles; call out to Him. Admit to Him what masks you are wearing and ask Him to help you to remove them. Sometimes, He alone will remove them. Other times, (in my case, most times) He will prompt me that I need to take specific action.

Just as when I wash the "Sea Mud Mask" off of my face; it may take some time. Most masks that have been on any length of time will take more than a simple splash. It may take some effort to completely remove it. But I can honestly tell you, it is worth the effort.

Pray that God might bring someone into your life that you could talk to about your masks. Share wisely - making sure that it would be someone who would value your openness and not break your confidence.

There are some times when professional help is needed. I've had two friends this year (acquaintances that have progressed now into real friendships) that I had NO IDEA were struggling with areas of addiction in their lives. Thankfully, their spouses sought professional help with them and they are both able to live without those masks that were destroying them from the inside out. Even Christians struggle.

Satan would like nothing more than to keep us isolated and defeated. He is the father of lies and convinces us NOT to share our struggles. Makes us feel that we couldn't share THAT with others; what would people think? Yet the irony is that it is in sharing some of these deep hurts, fears, and sorrows that freedom is birthed.

I know that this is long. If you have taken the time to read through it all, thank you. It is such a desire of mine to see my brothers and sisters in Christ living in the fullness that God has for His children. You are loved. You are forgiven. You can be free from the masks that seem to be adhered so tightly to you. There is rest for your weary soul.

Be real with yourself. Go to God. Begin to wash yourself in the Word of God and if God prompts you to share with someone you trust; do it. *If someone shares with you - keep it confidential. Prayerfully intercede. Encourage them along the way.*

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, but an encouraging word makes it glad." Proverbs 12:25

"Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing." I Thessalonians 5:11

As always, you are welcome to leave comments below or to e-mail me if you would like for me to be praying for you.

Many Blessings as you De-Mask!


*Special thanks to my beautiful friend, Angela, who was willing to be "mud-masked" twice for me as I did this devotional and for her insight into the "smell" portion of wearing the mud mask! You are SO right!


Bethany and crew said...

I'm so glad you made that comment on my blog, which then led me to yours...this post really spoke to me. I've been in the mask-removal business for a few years now (it does take time!!), and though it wasn't on my terms, God's timing is perfect and He has blessed me immeasurably through the process.

Thanks for sharing your heart and your thoughts!!

Sue said...

What a gift you have Shanda for taking the everyday things of life and making teachable God moments out of them!

I learned years ago about taking the masks off. They are too heavy and uncomfortable to wear. I'm a "what you see is what you get" kinda girl. Sometimes it gets me in trouble but at least people know I'm real!

Thank you for being so real too! You are a beautiful gift to the blogging world. May God bless your talent and use you in even more incredible ways ;-)

mommy4life said...

You made an awesome comparison there. I came by from the SITS comments.

Faith Imagined said...

I just loved this devotional! Women are so good at wearing masks!!! I will be meditating on this all day!

Kris said...

Wow. I loved how you did this. I've been struggling with removing some of my masks and really looking deep within lately. Stopping in from SITS and glad I did!

His Girl said...

oh, I just love word pictures. I'll be asking God to search my heart about masks I wear- certainly don't want to be trudging around with a face covered with hardened goo, completely unusable to God.

great post!