Monday, September 6, 2010

Day 7: Removing the Mask

"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" Luke 12:1-3

Ahh removing the mask. This is something I think I still struggle with. Removing the mask. For years, I have mastered keeping the smile on my face and not wearing my emotions on my sleeve. I learned to internalize my feelings until it almost drove me crazy. I mean popping Prozac, lying on a therapist couch crazy. I was living inside my head and couldn't find a way to escape. A bad relationship, poor family support and just the stress of every day life will do that to you. In hindsight, I can see a million things I did wrong, but I couldn't see them then.

Fast forward about 8 or 9 years and I know I am in a far better place than I was then, but the mask is still there. I still don't let people really see my hurts and struggles. I guess that's why people always think I have it together. So not the case. There are days when my emotions are so raw that it takes everything in me to get out of bed. I no longer have the need to medicate (yeah I popped prescription pills to sleep) the pain away, but sometimes the need to "check out mentally" is still there. I don't answer the phone and I don't entertain other people's problems when I am having my own moods. I allow myself to be the center of attention for a change.

I have tried to go to friends with my problems but 9 times out of 10, people don't listen. They tend to hear snippets of what you are saying and relate it to their own situations. Before long, the tides have changed and the focus is on them. I can say I do have a select few that I know I can go to in a time of crisis and know that the spotlight will solely be on me. Sometimes, we aren't looking for definitive answers, just a listening ear and to know someone really does care.

For a while now, God has been working on me to get me to a point where in a time of crisis, I only go to Him. It happened a few weeks ago when I found myself crying in the stairwell at work. I couldn't bring myself to call or text anyone cause I knew I would only be distracting myself and not dealing with the problem head on. In those moments, it was just me and God in that stairwell. I needed Him to be my comforter and He was. After a few minutes, I was crying tears of joy and praises to Him, simply for His promise to never forsake me and to always love me. His promises hold true, no matter what the circumstance.

I am learning to remove my mask and be honest and vulnerable with Him. It's not easy to admit that I am sometimes frustrated with Him or that I can't always hear Him or that the trials are too much for me to bear. Sometimes its hard to let Him know that I do get overwhelmed, that I do get lonely, that I do lose faith. I am learning that when people ask me what's going on in my life, that it's ok to be honest. It's okay to admit to my small group leader that some days I feel overwhelmed or that I have issues going on that I think will never get resolved. My excuse is always "they wont understand" or "someone else has a bigger problem that needs their attention." I have to remind myself that they really do care, that God has place people in my path to help me through the tough times. He doesn't want me to continue wearing a mask. He wants me to be open, honest, and vulnerable.

Lesson of the day: God calls you to walk consistently, allowing your actions to mirror what's going on in your heart. Get rid of the mask and be real with God, yourself and others. I think I am going to challenge myself this week to be honest with people when they ask me how I am doing. Taking baby steps to start removing the mask.

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