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Quitting the Masquerade

Quitting the Masquerade

Dominic has changed me in ways that I am still only discovering.

One of those ways, I have learned, is my ability to be around people. Interaction with people over a long period of time tires me out, now. I also feel more protective of my time; I want my moments to count, and I generally don’t want to spend them talking about the weather to make small talk.

I also have less tolerance for people that put out a façade that they have it all together.

This past year and a half has been a journey in gritty. Any aspirations I had of looking good or portraying to the world that I had it all together flew away with Dominic’s spirit. Pretense fell away, veneer was peeled back, and all that was left was raw, broken, devastated core. I couldn’t make it on my own, Sunday School answers didn’t suffice; the fluff of life suddenly seemed like just…fluff.

I can’t post about the same inanities that I did before. I can’t complain about the things I complained about before. And I don’t have a lot of tolerance for “looking good”, now.

No, I don’t mean I’m against a new pair of sassy boots or an updated hairdo. (Actually, I think I could benefit from both of those, now that I think about it). I mean the gyrations we all go through to present a front to the world – a front that things are going great.

It’s funny how wading through deep waters makes you too tired to worry about trying to pretend like you’re not wet.

Needing the Real of Suffering

But this hasn’t, I’ve found, only applied to me. I now don’t have a lot of energy for people who try to keep up the “It’s going great” mask. I want real relationships – relationships of genuineness forged on mutual suffering and pain and lives flayed open by the knife of a fallen world. I can’t do “Rah rah Jesus” bumper sticker friends. I tire of slogans and theologically correct answers and perfectly buffed and coiffed Sunday morning smiles. I can’t do Christmas card lives or Disney World outlooks.

I hunger for the depth of relationship that comes with those who know that sometimes you don’t get the miracle, and that simple doesn’t cut it and that faith and fear can co-mingle and that loving Jesus truly sometimes means yelling at Him in desperation. I want to be around people who know that saying “God is good” doesn’t really mean anything until you truly feel like you’re all out of good and that prayer isn’t a slot machine but a lifeline to keep you from being sucked down into a morass from which you will never emerge.

I want to surround myself by people who have been to the place where they could no longer live life in years or months, but in seconds…only sustained to the next one by Grace.

In short, I need to be around those who have suffered.

I am quitting the masquerade.

The Big Cover-Up

One of the things that has become so clear to me, in these months of living through and writing about Dominic’s effect on my life, is that, no matter how “good” they may look, no one has it all together. That couple with the beautiful kids that comes to worship dressed to the nines and picture-perfect happy? They are in the process of separating. That Mrs. Crafty homeschool mom who has the perfect learning project for every occasion? She’s suffering from depression and going to sleep crying most nights.

The “looking good” facade is a carefully crafted veneer that simply masks – from others and from oneself – a life in constant need of grace.

Somehow, in God’s amazing way, I have seen how Dominic’s tragedy has brought down the veil that so many people put up. Since Dominic, I have heard from people who struggled with whether or not to choose life after learning that their unborn child would be special needs. I have heard from people whose husbands have chosen another woman and another life, leaving them with the kids and the hurt and a world turned upside down. I have heard from people who have miscarried, and who have been sexually abused, who suffer from infertility, who have lost their livelihood, who are suffering with mood disorders, who have been chronically ill, who are struggling with same-sex attraction but don’t want to be, and who have lost parents, siblings and children.

Scratch the surface just a little bit, and the cracks in the façade will show.

Why don’t we just admit the truth, and, instead of hiding, find grace and comfort in each other?

Or, better yet – why don’t we just admit the truth so that God can make us that grace and comfort – for someone else?

Cracks in the Mask

It is not my hours of research on Christian apologetics, or my public speaking skills or my successes as a homeschool mom that have led people to share their struggles and seek the Lord. It is my weakness. It is when I have been laid out, prone and uncaring, on the emotional and spiritual basement floor, for all the world to see, that the Lord has done His best work. It has been humbling, amazing, and educational.

 

  • “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 1 Corinthians 1:25
  • “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

It’s freeing, getting to the real. It is, I believe, where God wants us. It is there, I believe, that He is able to change us. It is there, I believe, that He is able to use us.

Of course laying down the disguise – getting to the real – will almost always involve someone judging us, alienating us, hurting us. There will always be those whose facade can only stay in place when they can be sure that they look better than someone else. There will always be those in the corner, complimenting one another’s costumes while gleefully pointing out the uglies that didn’t wear theirs. They are not yet able to admit that, under the mask, we’re all repulsive- and they’re still stuck comparing their perfectly plastered mask to your real skin.

Masks always look better than true flesh from far away. But get close…and the imperfect humanity always shows through.

It is suffering that brings us closer – pain that reveals the reality of the mask: glossy, fabricated, and…

lifeless.

Unmasking

The older I get, the more I experience the pain of life, the less I care about how anyone sees me – except the One who made me. Because He created what is behind the mask, he knows exactly what it looks like, and He loves it completely and wholly. I can take off the disguise because no matter how others respond to me – I am His. No matter how outwardly pretty it may be, I don’t want imitation. I don’t want manufactured or veneered or constructed. I just want the real thing  – the real person – with all of its imperfections and lack of beauty…because the real thing is life. And life is what God can use.

My mask is off. I’m a hard-headed, prideful-hearted mess of reality whose scars and imperfections threaten to make her appearance worthy of little more than a costume freak show. It’s not pretty, and I know it. Yet I refuse to put on the disguise. Because I don’t want to waste my life at a costume party. There’s too much at stake – too much to do – to prepare for the real party that’s coming.

 

  • “And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other….“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:31, 42-44
  • “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”…He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.” Revelations 21:4-6

Forget this world’s masquerade. Disguises distort the truth, perpetuate suffering, and waste time. We need to lay down our masks, lay bare our ugliness, and reclaim our identity as children of The Lord. We need to see the lifelessness of the facades around us, and love the people behind them so they can de-costume too. And we need to draw people away from the costume ball all together so they can do the real work of preparing for and bringing others to the grand celebration to come.

We are ugly, here. But that ugliness is not improved with a veneer; masks only serve to cover over the ugliness with lifelessness. Our only hope for beauty, for beautiful life, is for the real us to be made new by the Creator.

 

  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory…”

We don’t become beautiful by concealing with a nicer-looking veneer of ourselves. We become beautiful by choosing to lay down the mask so He can start the process of transforming us into something completely new.

We will be rewarded for getting rid of the facade. Those of us who get to the real party – the one that lasts forever – will find that it isn’t a masquerade at all, but a celebration where everyone is the most real they could possibly be. Everyone there will be the most themselves they could possibly be. Only this time, our previously pock-marked, ravaged real selves will be beautiful…

Perfectly, righteously beautiful, because, in the process of becoming more and more our real selves, somehow we will end up looking remarkably like Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

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