Wearing the Mask

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I’ve been amazed at the response I got from that last post…comments, emails, questions. Apparently, there are plenty of us mask-wearers out there! As Meredith said, it’s the default position for many of us. I’ll be honest with you here… this whole blog thing is really gonna stretch me out of my comfort zone in this respect. I’m fine with being open and transparent one-on-one, and I’m pretty good in groups. But this…well, this is as public as it gets. And I find myself thinking OFTEN about how certain people will react to whatever I’m about to say. I’m wondering…is that a good thing or a bad thing?? is it my pride that makes me hesitate? is it fear of man? I guess, everyone falls in different places on this transparency continuum, and it probably has alot to do with our personalities. I’m pretty outgoing and don’t mind speaking up, usually. Don, as I said earlier, is very private, and it’s much harder for him to open up about his thoughts and feelings. But I’m wondering, in general, how should we, as followers and representatives of Jesus, do this? How open should we be? Are there certain things that should be kept private? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, folks!

I remember hearing a famous author and speaker giving her testimony one time. She had a pretty stained past, but she shared it openly because, as she put it, “It doesn’t matter what you think of me…it only matters what you think of God. And the worse off I was, the better His grace appears.” I’m pretty sure I agree with her, but I still find certain things about my past difficult to talk about.  When I was in the middle of our marriage struggles, I really didn’t feel like I had a choice about the mask. Don didn’t want me to talk to anyone about our issues. I didn’t completely submit to that, because I was afraid I couldn’t survive if I didn’t have at least a few friends to help me. But generally speaking, the mask was like a prison to me. I hated it, but I didn’t know how to get out of it.

It was interesting yesterday when I asked Don to read my marriage post before I published it. I wanted to make sure he was ok with it. It amazed me when he just nodded and smiled and said “yep, that’s good.”  Wow….another evidence of God’s grace in his life. Before, he would’ve NEVER wanted me to talk about our struggles like that…especially on the internet for the whole world to see. So I’m thinking…that transparency is a gift from God. And I’m so glad God’s allowing us to talk now about our struggles. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll help someone.

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11 Responses to “Wearing the Mask”

  1. Wanda Smith Says:

    I can tell Don’s a cool guy…God bless you both for sharing.

  2. Meredith Says:

    This is a topic I could talk about for a while, but I think the following really says it well. It was written by Beth Moore’s daughter, Amanda Jones.

    “People need us to be real. Of course, I don’t mean “real” to the point that we’re trying to shock others with our sin nature. We don’t need to let it all hang out. I have struck out many times on this. We must be Spirit-filled to walk the fine line.

    When we’re authentic, two things happen. One, we encourage others who are struggling in the same way. And two, we allow ourselves to be encouraged by others who have been there.

    I was once an incredibly self-righteous person. I was proud of being good. Then God let me eat it and I saw what was really in my heart. There was nothing good there. I learned to surrender my weak self to Jesus every single day and let Him change my heart. If I stopped doing that, I’d turn right back into my old self. That is the scariest thought ever. The stakes are especially high now that I’m a wife and a mother. So I no longer care to portray a false sense of goodness or perfection. I want to show others that He is good and He has is all together. He can take a heart that craves sin and make it thirst for righteousness. He can take a Failure and make her a Victor. He can take our struggles and turn them into strengths. That’s what He’s done for me, what He’s doing for me, and what He’ll keep doing for me until He takes me home. ”

    For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4:5-7)

  3. Phyllis Says:

    I do think that their are times when we need to be discreet about certain things especially in cases like yours where it affects someone else. I have to applaud Don for approving your last post. I believe that takes a big man to do so. But, many are not necessarily wearing a mask as much as they are just very private people who prefer to face their struggles alone. I think this is true more so with men. However, I have always been one who finds comfort in the fact that someone has shared or is sharing the same pain. Some how I don’t feel so alone.
    I do think you have to be careful what you share or even how public you are. Or maybe just hold off till you are ready to talk about it. Probably you would not have felt as comfortable to write this post 2 years ago.
    I don’t know, I guess I’m just throwing out some thoughts. They probably don’t even make sense.

  4. Charity Says:

    Wanda, thanks for the sweet words! You are such an encouragment to me!! =)

    And Meredith, thank you so much for sharing that…I love that quote and couldn’t agree more. People DO need us to be real. I’ve been in Christian circles where it looked like everybody had it all together…and frankly, it’s intimidating–and irritating. I’d much rather be with a group that’s real about their brokenness. I think that’s the difference between Christian socializing and Christian fellowship….when we learn to speak the truth about where we are in our walk…when we stop requesting for prayer for so-and-so that we work with and start asking for prayer for ourselves! Otherwise it’s all pretty superficial. Ya know??

    Phyllis, that does make sense…and you’re right. Timing does have alot to do with it. I wouldn’t have felt the freedom to do that a couple years ago. Mainly because Don had insisted on secrecy for so long…I would’ve been afraid he’d be mad. But he’s the one who started telling people immediately after it all happened, which SO shocked me, because he IS so private. He was just so amazed and happy about what God was doing in his life that he wanted to tell people. I’ve heard him tell it more than I’ve told it myself, which is why I knew he’d approve the post even before he did.

    And I do think you’re right about some people being more private than others. Our personalities come into play here, and just because someone isn’t talking about their life doesn’t mean they’re hiding something. Glad you clarified that. I think maybe the question to ask ourselves is, when I DO have the freedom to speak about my life, am I being honest?..am I portraying it as it really is?

  5. lisa long Says:

    I feel that Meredith is right on! It takes walking in the Spirit to know what to share and when. Yesterday at church, Max Lucado started a series through the book of Acts. He focused on Acts chapter two where the disciples received tongues of many nations so that everyone present in Jerusalem that day could here the gospel in his native tongue. He said that the Holy Spirit came and “the tongues as of fire” (Acts 2:3) rested on each one of them. That it wasn’t a big ball of fire hovering over the entire congregation. That the Holy Spirit met individually with each person, giving them a voice to speak at that time.

    His challenge to us was to know our voice and to use it. What has the Lord redeemed us from and how has He given us new life in Him. That’s our voice. God gave it to us to share with others so that they will know they aren’t alone in this world and that there is hope for their personal situation in Him. As the song says, “Hide it under a bushel, No, I’m gonna let it shine”!

    We have the same Holy Spirit in us that worked on the day of Penecost. As American Christians we have lived too long in hiding. I know I have. Not wanting to draw attention to myself. Too concerned about what others might think. It’s true! The only opinion that truly matters is God’s opinion of me. But it takes time as a Believer to get there. I’m still on my way. But the older I get the more I realize, time is slipping by and one day I won’t have the energy or maybe the mind to share what powerful, redeeming work He is capable of in a life. Opportunity is now! He deserves all of me now.

    I believe, with the way the world has changed, that God is calling us to be radical for Him. Transparency is effective. It keeps us humble and sends a “truth” message to a world that isn’t used to hearing the truth. And they’re hungry for truth.

  6. Charity Says:

    Wow…great thoughts, Lisa. Think I’ll go back and read that a few more times, and really process it all. Thanks so much for giving us some great things to think about!

  7. Meredith Says:

    There are a few things that keep coming to mind as I read through these very interesting comments and try to determine when to be open:
    1) What is my motive for sharing?
    2) Am I actually sharing my own story?

    I think it is so easy to think we are being transparent when we share our difficulty with another person’s struggle. For example: “I am really having a difficult time being joyful and loving since my husband is so angry all the time.”

    This kind of thing is actually not so much being transparent about yourself, but about someone else. Issues and struggles that involve another person necessitate that I be respectful enough to value their privacy and not share with everyone, unless they would approve others’ knowledge of their situation. (Sharing with a counselor or a trusted friend would be the exception) However, I think it can almost always be helpful to admit our own personal struggles (as long as our motive is right and we are not glorifying the sin nature).
    This would look more like: “I struggle so much with loving my husband with the pure love of Jesus. I seem to love so selfishly.” This may indicate that my husband is hard to love or it may not, but the transparency begins and ends with ME. Furthermore, I think this would be a completely honest statement if you were struggling with an angry husband. We all would probably have issues loving him in the 1 Cor. 13 kind of way!
    Just some additional thoughts.

    As I said, I have a lot to say about this topic, mostly because God has been dealing about it with me. I apologize for hogging the comment space though! 🙂

  8. Phyllis Says:

    Meredith, I think you said what I was trying to say in my previous comment. Except you said it much better and in much more detail. I can tell you have given this a lot of thought. I can’t say that I ever have.
    Excellent thoughts.

  9. Hannah Says:

    I have enjoyed reading your testimony Charity and this blog has been interesting. Our current pastor did a sermon entilted “Nunya” and the basic crux of the message was that some things are just “Nunya” as in “None of other peoples’ business.” I have been mulling over this idea throughout the week and I think that some things are obviously personal … ie – the marriage bedroom and also maybe if it’s a sin that your still struggling with, it may be wise to seek the advice like you did of a mentor or close friend but there are some things such as testimonies that uplift other christians or even none christians. I think that christianity is at a paradox on this subject. There’s the one camp that puts on this persona that as a christian you have to have everything figured out and if you don’t – “You really must NOT be striving to please God.” There’s almost a feeling of being shunned if you were to tell anyone. Then there’s the other camp that thinks it’s fine to struggle and even a neccessity to – “so why strive toward holiness?” Both seem wrong. As a christian we are to hold each other accountable and if we put on this fake pretty christian mask then there’s no way for others to help. Too often I’ve come accross these mask wearers and for those who are also struggling and not as gifted in the mask wearing they seem unapproadchable. I think that the good thing about sharing something like this is that as you said earlier it helps people to realize that even the most put together people from the outside need other people. We are created to edify one another. Thanks for all the thoughts and for having the courage to share what God has done 🙂

  10. Becky Hodges Says:

    You are doing some great writing. It’s truly from your heart ! That is exactly the point I would like to make. Whatever we do we need to be sure of what the motive of our hearts are. When that motive is to reveal the GREAT work of our Lord Jesus Christ the motive is pure. He asks us time and time again to tell of His great works from generation to generation. He asks us as followers of His to encourage each other in the faith. You have done just that. I am a firm believer that the Lord allows situations in our life to strenghten our walk with Him but also to be right where another person is. When you can tell someone that you have walked in their shoes it speaks volumes to them. I am going to be praying for you daily ! God Bless you Charity !!

  11. Charity Says:

    Loved what you said, Meredith! Great thoughts, and please keep them coming! I love to hear what God’s teaching you.

    Hannah, so good to hear from you!! Glad you said what you did. There does seem to be some disagreement in Christian circles about this…maybe not always voiced, but definitely by our actions. I’m still learning, myself, and trying to define my own thoughts on this, so it’s been helpful to hear everyone’s opinions. Thanks for jumping in!

    And Becky…I agree! “Telling His great deeds” sometimes means we have to humble ourselves and get over our fear of what people will think. And it IS encouraging to talk to someone who’s “been there.” One of the really amazing things about my journey has been how many people God has brought into my life…and keeps bringing…who are struggling in their marriage. I’m telling you, it’s unbelievable. And I know it’s because God wants me to use what we went through to encourage others, pray with and for them, and show them compassion. Remember 2 Cor. 1?? verse 5 says, “if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort”– meaning, like you said Becky, sometimes God takes us through some “afflictions” so that we can be comforted by Him, and in turn comfort others. And how could we possibly comfort others if we never revealed to anyone what He has done for us?? I think this is part of being a good “steward of His manifold grace”….we don’t just hoard His grace and comfort. We pass it on!!!

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