Today’s fast is appearances.
When my kids were young we watched a movie in which one of the female characters worked hard to keep up a perfect appearance in hopes of “catching her man”. But all her efforts were undone by a child who saw through the fake.
“Does your face hurt?”, asked the little girl, referring to the obvious strain required to try to keep that smile exactly right.
I’ve often thought about how much energy I’ve wasted trying to pretend that I’m something I’m not.
It’s especially tempting to put on that “holy habit” when I walk through the doors of church or gather for a women’s ministry event.
Wear the right thing, say the right thing, never let my guard down or confess to struggling.
I am guilty of affirming and rewarding others who look like they have it all together while sometimes ignoring or marginalizing those who are clearly having a hard time. This only perpetuates the ongoing pressure to “measure up” lest we be found wanting.
But Jesus does not ask me to “fake it til I make it”.
He invites me to come with all my mess and lay it at His feet where He will turn ashes to beauty and bring fruit from barrenness as I abide in Him.
I love, love, love what Alicia Britt Chole says: “Our reality doesn’t frustrate Jesus. Our hypocrisy does.”
So for (at least!) one day fast facades.
Take off the mask. Be real.
He already knows.
**As promised, I am sharing thoughts on 40 DAYS OF DECREASE (a Lenten journal/devotional). If you choose to get and use the book yourself, I’ll be a day behind in sharing so as not to influence anyone else’s experience.**
We all do it from time to time-slip into playing a role instead of being real.
Sometimes it just takes too much energy to take off the mask and show my real face to the world.
Because if I do, it might raise questions or provoke judgement or even frighten folks and who wants to deal with that?
You want to know a secret?
Everyone, EVERYONE, wonders if they are “normal”.
And we all try on different masks trying to hide the real us just in case we aren’t.
But none of them fit, none of them are comfortable and none of them really hide everything we wish they did.
So we go through life pretending to be someone we’re not, hoping the performance is adequate, making friends with people who are also wearing a mask and wondering why in the world it feels so false and unfulfilling.
I love, love, love this little poem by Shel Silverstein. He had a way of distilling truth to a few memorable words:
One of the gifts grief has given me is that I just do not have the energy to keep my mask on straight.
So I’ve decided to take it off.
And I find that when I do, people aren’t horrified, they are relieved.
Because that means they can take theirs off too.
What if, instead of hiding my pain, I allowed others to see it and offer it as a testimony of the power and grace of God in my life?
What if, instead of pretending that “everything is alright”, I admit that it’s not, but that God is still on the throne?
What if, instead of creating a gulf between myself and others by walling off parts of my life that I deem too messy, I throw open the door and invite folks inside-mess and all?
Read the rest here: Displaying Our Scars
We say we want real.
But we really don’t.
We tune in by the millions to watch “reality TV” even though we know the drama is manufactured and the outcome decided months before.
We participate daily in quiet subterfuge when our coworker pretends her marriage isn’t falling apart even though we overhear her desperate phone calls trying to mend it.
We like to hear “Fine, thank you.” when we offer the polite greeting, “How are you?”.
What happens to the person who refuses to play along? What about the one whose heart is so broken that she can’t begin to put on the false front that would make everyone else more comfortable around her?
What do you do when someone stops pretending everything is OK?
Often, people walk away.
Because we have absolutely no idea what to do with real. We have no words when “How are you?” is answered with “Awful. My world is falling apart.”
We reward those who choose to go along with the script that makes us comfortable and isolate the ones that don’t.
But is that the world we really want to live in? Do we want to walk with unsaid words between us, unreleased feelings bottled up and threatening to overflow?
It is really more admirable to pretend?
MASKS by Shel Silverstein
She had blue skin
And so did he.
He kept it hid
And so did she.
They searched for blue
Their whole life through.
Then passed right by —
And never knew.