Lenten Reflections: Letting Go of Masks and Making Space for Authenticity

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.**

Is It More Admirable to Pretend?

 

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?

smile-question

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

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.

 

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