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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Masks We Wear

As women, we all wear different hats--wife, mother, teacher, nurse, writer, friend, etc. Many times we wear several at one time! The hats we wear represent different roles we have in life, some more constant than others. While many times we fill our closets with too many hats to juggle, having different roles in life is inevitable. We see that the Proverbs 31 woman wore various hats, in amazing fashion might I add.

The wearing of masks is what is of more concern to me. Women are care-takers and often put on masks covering pain and fear so as not to "bother" others or to protect themselves from rejection. How dangerous this is! I know from personal experience how much damage this can do.

For me, I have worn various masks during my life. One of those masks is what I call the "I got it under control" mask. As a firstborn, I grew up liking to be in control, being very achievement-oriented. I put forth the confident, dependable persona, even when I was struggling with insecurities. People came to expect this from me, which only exacerbated the mask-wearing on my part. Over time, God has really helped me to begin to put away those masks and be vulnerable and authentic in who He has created me to be. This has been freeing, and I long to see Christian women of all ages to put away the masks they wear that only bring bondage.

Why do we wear masks? I believe that most of the time our reasons are rooted in fear--fear that we don't measure up, fear that there is something wrong with us, fear of rejection, fear of failing. God' Word clearly states that we do not have to live in fear:

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. (I John 4:16,18)
As followers of Christ, we are called to live in victory over fear. God's perfect love extended to us allows us to live in His love, apart from the fear of punishment and rejection. James Baldwin writes:

Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within.
It is only His love that can help us to remove the masks in our lives. It is only when we accept that we are powerless in this. In many ways, wearing masks is sinful. We are choosing to live ruled by fear, eventually leading to a very self-centered life focused on maintaining an image or persona.

Our masks, always in peril of smearing and cracking, in need of continuous check in the mirror or silverware, keep us in thrall to ourselves, concerned with our surfaces.(Carolyn Kizer)
I pray that we all would evaluate our mask-wearing and claim God's promises that we are uniquely and intimately made by Him.

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)
So ladies, let's toss those masks aside. I would love to hear from you about the masks you struggle with. As women, may we seek to encourage one another through our struggles!

In Him . . . Kelly

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18 Comments:

Blogger Denise said...

I praise God for loving me just as I am, no mask required. Thanks for sharing this.

April 4, 2007 at 12:33 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

wonderful post Kelly
I took a lot of my "masks" off a couple of years ago. I came to a point in my life when I decided I was who I was and if people didnt like me that was their problem not mine. I began to live my life as I wished and of course as God wished.

I urge other women to be who they are in Christ Jesus who loves us unconditionally

April 4, 2007 at 2:43 AM  
Anonymous Lynn Donovan said...

Kelli,

choosing to live ruled by fear, eventually leading to a very self-centered life.....

This is absolutely true. I had not thought about fear as selfishness but it really is self-centered. Great thoughts. Thank you.

April 4, 2007 at 9:19 AM  
Blogger Jill said...

Choosing masks is self-centered and a form of self-worship even though it may not seem like it. Trying to set up an image for others to see is a form of idolatry. But taking off the masks takes courage. Courage to believe that who I am in Christ is enough.

Great post Kelly. I think women are especially vulnerable to this. I know I am.

April 4, 2007 at 10:26 AM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Great post Kelly. As a first born I could especially relate to what you shared. It has been awesome how God has worked in this area of my life.

April 4, 2007 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger Jenny in Ca said...

I enjoyed this thoughtful post Kelly. I understand the part about protecting yourself from rejection. I don't do this so much by wearing a mask, but by not saying much and staying in the background. I think jill hit a good point in her comment, that if we spend so much time crafting a mask to show to others, we are setting up an idol. wow, something to think about when deciding how real to be to others.

April 4, 2007 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Kelly,
I know that I have worn a mask at times due to others expectations and fear that if they knew the "real" me they would not like what they see.
It has been learning and studying who I am in Christ that has moved me from this place of trying to impress or please others to a place of accepting who God created me to be and the path that He has chosen for me to walk. Excellent post!

April 4, 2007 at 12:19 PM  
Blogger Darlene said...

Kelly, thanks for the encouragement, I have a mask or two that I struggle to keep off, and with God's help I'm trying.

April 4, 2007 at 2:14 PM  
Blogger Susanne said...

This was a really good post, Kelly. I've been known to don the mask of being able to juggle 50 spinning plates at one time and not have it affect me. God has to regularly speak to me on that one.

April 4, 2007 at 3:47 PM  
Blogger Lisa writes... said...

I think of Paul's words in Galatians: Am I seeking man's approval or God's? For if I am seeking man's then I am not a servant of Christ. (my paraphrase) It is the desire for man's approval that keeps the masks on. If I sincerely want to be a servant of Christ (and I do!) then it must be with "unveiled faces."

Great post, Kelly!

April 4, 2007 at 3:57 PM  
Blogger janiswrites said...

I manage to remove the masks most of the time, but every once in a while those masks become part of my wardrobe. The masks that a struggle with are pride and fear. I sometimes am afraid of letting others see the real me-faults and all. This was a wonderful post. You bless me so much with your writing.

April 4, 2007 at 5:36 PM  
Blogger Peach said...

Kelly,

You said so much of what God's been putting on my heart, too.

I still struggle with that mask of "I've got it under control!"

God is gently prying my fingers from around that mask, challenging me to come out from behind it and reveal the me He has designed.

Thanks for writing this, Kelly, it has ministered to me already.

April 4, 2007 at 10:55 PM  
Blogger The Preacher's Wife said...

My favorite mask quote? By Steve Brown,

"Our proclivity towards wearing a mask is directly proportionate to God's proclivity towards ripping it off."

Wow has He left me bleeding at times...:))

Wonderful post...

April 5, 2007 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

I definitely can relate to the mask. I wear the mask that I think others want to see and is pleasing to them. That must mean I have many masks. One comment was about seeking God's approval or man's. It's so much easier to seek God's since He is the only consistent One. How freeing to know that God wants to see the beautiful face He created and not an embellished covering that we created. Thanks for the great post.

April 5, 2007 at 9:08 PM  
Blogger Elise said...

Oh, Kelly.
Baldwin's quote is incredible - I reread it several times to let it sink in.
How the blogworld can be a mask for some, yes? I have battled it myself, along with the mask of having it all together.
Letting go is indeed freeing. Thank you so much for sharing this, and reminding us.

April 5, 2007 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Kelly this is one of your best posts. This is such a true observation and the scriptures and quotes that go along with it uphold the premise with Truth.

April 6, 2007 at 4:51 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

I can so relate to the first-born thing. And I have also recently shed some masks, not forcing myself to "look the part" even if I feel crummy inside. The mask I have a hard time getting rid of, though, is the one I wear at my job at the church. When you're on a staff of a church, people kind of expect you to be put together all the time- or maybe it's just me that expects it. Hmmmm...food for thought!

April 6, 2007 at 7:22 PM  
Blogger eph2810 said...

Kelly, I think that my mask is "I am not hurt"...I don't speak up when I am hurt. I just 'take it' and move on. But sometimes the hurt lingers a very, very long time...

Thank you so much for the beautiful words. I really need to take of the mask and let people know when I am hurt--in a nice way :)

Blessings to you and yours.

April 14, 2007 at 6:38 PM  

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