In thinking of the various masks I have worn throughout my lifetime, I believe the one with the biggest stronghold has been the ‘people pleaser’. Growing up in a volatile atmosphere at home, I was conditioned at an early age that approval was based on performance and so you do anything for the sake of peace.
The people pleaser mask works hand in hand with the super achiever mask and both have served me well most of my life and even seemed a ‘gift’ in my Christian walk.
That is until life breaks through the façade.
During a season of grief over the recent death of a loved one, I began to understand just how detrimental this mask wearing had been in my life. Deep loss will do that to you. Death has a way of waking you up, sharply clarifying life and prioritizing what is truly important and meaningful.
In these moments, masks are meaningless.
Just like Peter, I sat there in the boat of conformity with the storm thundering and crashing all about me. And in my pain, I looked and saw the Lord way out there…far away from this ‘boat’ of religiosity and performance that I’d been riding in.
“Sometimes we have to walk all the way through our negative thoughts, identifying them, re-framing them in Truth before we can let them go.” ~ Jo-Ann Fore, When a Woman Finds Her Voice. These heart-spoken words ministered deeply as I read them, their truth spoken so softly but valiantly resonated within.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” ~ Psalm 139:13-15
The timeless truth of God’s Word is the ‘remedy’ to combat the urge for the safety of mask-wearing. Basking in the security of His unconditional and everlasting love…soaking in worship and stepping out little by little. It is there that I give myself permission to heal and to strengthen.
…And so I walk through softly.
A slow dance. A delicate, slow peeling back…exposing tender places, sacred spaces with an upturned face asking God to cover me.
“You know my innermost being. You know this grief, this hurt place is such a sacred space. Yet, I choose to trust you Daddy. So, I release my pain in order to receive my healing and I choose to hide and abide in You. I trade in my mask and instead take my cover under the shadow of Your wings.”
And when I find myself tempted to put my mask and secure my wall, Paul’s probing words to the Galatians serve as a filter for my feelings. Am I seeking man’s approval or God’s?
Because the real and raw truth is this: if I seek to please man more than God, then I am not a servant of Christ but an idolator of man. (Galatians 1:10)
If I truly want to be a servant of Christ, which I do, and if I sincerely want to fulfill my call, which I must, then I have to be okay with loving myself enough and resting securely enough in His love for me to say no when I have to, walk away when I must and place my trust solely in God’s keeping power.
Remember, life is too short and tomorrow is not promised.
So, Love God and Live Life fully and step out of the boat…with unwalled heart and “unveiled face”.
And even if you temporarily sink, remember….your Life Guard walks on water!