Day 7: the masks we wear

So let’s get back to Noah and his sons and Adam and Eve and covers in the Bible for a bit.

Just like Adam and Eve often when we sin we feel the need to cover up.  We feel shame and guilt and we try to hide it.

So I differentiate between guilt and shame. Shame is bad; guilt is good. Guilt is the conviction we feel when we’ve messed up; shame is the tendency to stay in the guilt and not accept what God offers.

Even Noah appears to have known that he sinned in being drunk.  Why else would he have been so outraged at his son’s response?  In fact, speculation has it that Ham caught Noah in a position that he had often found himself in and he used that against his father.  Regardless, we can know that based on Ham’s actions he often portrayed one thing about himself and did another and that he did not desire to turn away from sin.

Photo credit: protoflux

We all, even if we do not know it, wear masks from time to time.  I have the “facebook” mask, the “in person” mask, the “at church” mask, and others I am sure.  I attempt to be genuine in all of these avenues, but nonetheless, I still have a mask I wear to some degree, and so do you.  I would like to suggest to you that when you enter into genuine community, it should be a safe place, where you can take off your mask and be transparent and at times vulnerable.

Imagine with me for a moment – that makeup is the mask you wear to hide from God and yourself and others.  At the end of the day you never take it off.  The next morning you get up and you put on some more makeup.  You do this over and over again each day.  Before long, you wake up and you do not recognize yourself.  You cannot see who you were before you started wearing the mask.  Your mask has many layers.  Your face is wearing down and wrinkling from the weight of the mask that is so heavy, it wants to slide off.  But it sits there because you’ve put it on so many times, you cannot take it off.  Only One can remove it.

You look in the mirror and say, “Who is this person?  Where am I?”  You panic because you cannot remove this mask without a harsh makeup remover or a hammer to chip it off bit by bit.

You hear a voice.  He says he will help you remove the mask.  He looks all around and takes the gentlest makeup remover you’ve got.  Slowly and carefully He takes off your mask layer by layer, bit by bit.  This takes days, but instead of putting more makeup on each day, you let Him remove one more layer.  Each layer may represent things such as sin, fear, doubt, insecurity, hopelessness, gossip.  As He removes each layer, the Lord tells you what each layer looks like and represents.  Then comes the day when He sees you face to face.  You can look him in the face and he looks at yours and sees no more makeup, but only you with all your flaws.

He is singing over you because He’s finally found you, and you are singing because at once you finally see Him.  Tears run down your empty face, and He holds you – wholly and completely.  You’ve given your true self to Him.

You are a new creature before Him, and you no longer have to put on a mask.  You can be yourself with Him, and He loves and knows you.  Luke 12:1-2 of the Message says, “Watch yourselves carefully so you don’t get contaminated with Pharisee yeast, Pharisee phoniness. 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. You can’t whisper one thing in private and preach the opposite in public; the day’s coming when those whispers will be repeated all over town.”

It is transparency with God that sets us free from the striving to get it right in this life, and it is transparency with one another that helps us transform into a greater likeness of Him.  Ruth Graham says, “We are transformed as we remove our masks–as we let go of our own efforts–and look to God in our need, in our battered condition, in our helplessness.  If we cover or “veil” our need, we can delay or hinder our own transformation.” (ref. 2 Corinthians 3:18)”[1]

“If we cover or veil our need, we can delay our own transformation!!” This is so true don’t you think?

Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  All of us are in need of His covering, not our own.

Let’s talk about safe people for a minute. A safe person will not gossip about what you’ve shared or make light of what you are sharing. If you know people who always talk about what you share with them, or if you know that they are always talking about other people to you, it is safe to assume that they will share your stuff with another too. Don’t participate; don’t listen; don’t share. Pray pray pray for this person!

A safe person will not be defensive in your vulnerability. There is a person in my life who has almost always been defensive no matter what I’ve shared. This person is not really interesting in genuinely knowing me, not the me at my core. Over time, I learned that (s)he is not safe in that regard and I can never develop the intimacy that I wanted to because of that. That is okay – sometimes there are people in our life and people that stay in our lives that are not “safe” like we are hoping they will be. It is good and right to have boundaries with them. You don’t just go laying out your heart with unsafe people.

[1] Graham, Ruth.  “Fear Not Tomorrow, God is Already There Devotional.”  Day 40

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