You know when you hear the same message over and over and over again? You go to church and you hear a sermon on a particular topic that you were just discussing with your friend the day before. And then you pick up a new book and there’s a chapter on the same subject. Oprah is interviewing an expert about the issue on her show, then you meet some friends for coffee and WHAM, someone brings up the same thing. Finally, you exclaim, “I give.” What am I supposed to learn here?
Different details but same story for me. The topic that keeps running through my head? Masks. Masks used for hiding behind, covering up, being someone else.
I know I’m too old for masks. Adolescents are the ones trying to “find themselves.” Twenty-somethings are the ones figuring out who they are going to be in front of friends, co-workers or family… trying to mesh all roles into one. So why the heck am I hearing this over and over and over now? (Yes, that’s three “overs” because I have a flair for drama.)
If I wouldn’t sound so self-deprecating I would say, “Am I that stupid?” But I’ve been told I’m too hard on myself. So I shall take a gentle approach as I attempt to understand why, now, I am faced with the harsh reality that I still wear masks.
As I was listening to my friends tonight, it dawned on me that I have always wanted to be someone else. Always. It’s embarrassing to confess that, but as I searched my history bank, I came up with about 10 people I wanted to be before I ever reached high school. Some of these people were famous. Most were not. Most of the people I wanted to be were girls my age or a little older who had something I wanted, and I don’t mean their boyfriends. Well, maybe some.
I wanted to be these particular girls or women because they were beautiful, talented and desired. I felt ugly, ordinary and lonely. I attached myself to them hoping that their beauty or talent would somehow rub off on me. Today I feel a little more secure than I did in those days, but the root problem still exists.
In all of my desires to be someone else, the truth is – I want to be whole. I want to be who God created me to be. But my flesh calls me a liar. “You don’t want to be beautiful for God. You want to be beautiful to man (or woman). You want to be liked. Adored, even. So go on… grab the mask du jour… the one that will be most pleasing to ____ ” (fill-in-the-blank, depending on the day or situation).
Wow, that is a powerful message I hear in this crazy mind of mine. Yet, the battle is real and unless I start practicing humility and contentment, I will wake up in 20 years and once again ask myself, “Who Am I?” Over the next few days I am going to examine this question.
Who am I? I pray that the process will not be self-consuming, rather that it will bring me to a place of healing. I pray that my heart and motives will be pure. I pray that while I journal and process, the discoveries will not be used simply for knowledge of my inner self, but for deconstructing the lies that undergird such a cycle. I do not want to settle for the same old answers just because so and so told me this is who I am. It’s going to be hard to filter out all the messages, the wounds and the shame, but I know I will not be alone as I uncover these tender areas. I do this so that I may chuck the masks once and for all and start living my life. The life God has given me. The life where I can be fully present and awake and passionate about the things of God. The life that is more about serving others than serving myself, where someday I can help others realize that they no longer need their masks either. That together we can reveal our own faces and not be ashamed.