Tuesday, June 10, 2008

the oughts

I stood there, in my friend's living room, sobbing. I had asked her to pray with me about the fear that sometimes seems to dominate my life but things had turned in a surprising direction. As my friends and I prayed the Holy Spirit lead me on a path of healing and freedom and now here I was, on the threshold of freedom as it were, terrified.
The Holy Spirit was showing me how much of my life is a facade, a life of wearig masks and trying to portray myself as someone good. Someone really, really good. I guess it started when I was a child. As a family we sort of set ourselves up as the "high-class Christians". The super-comitted folks who attend every meeting and tithed on every cent. We were always involved, always. Growing up I looked down on "those" people those who lacked our outstanding comittment to the church. But it was all a facade. At home things were not so good, and yet the worse our family life became the harder we worked to sit at the front and set the example.
This set a horrble precedent for my life. I distinctly remember a time, writing in my joural one night, when I wrote that I'd been wearing a mask for so long that I'd lost the ability to take the mask off and that I'd forgotten what my face really looked like. So now there I was, confronted with my hypocricy and feeling the weight of the burden of trying to live a lie. Yet I was terrified. A mask is safe, it hides my flaws, without it I feel naked and exposed. I feel uncertain. What if who I am is just not good enough?
My mask was so easily constructed from the "oughts" of the Christian culture. I gathered material from the Christian women's books I devoured in my pre-twenties. I knew really well who I "ought" to be. How could God ask me to lay it aside?
"God, what if who I am behind this mask isn't good enough?" In my spirit I was screaming it, my hands were trembling, my heart was pounding. My friend looked me in the eye and said "This is why Jesus died." And then, through it all, I felt His gentle embrace. In my spirit I saw him wrap His Fatherly arms around me and I heard him gently say "How could you ever not be good enough? I made you who you are." I thought about my children and how I would never say "you're not good enough" to any of them. They are all totally accepted, totally "good enough", totally loved.
Then the mask fell. It crashed and shattered into a million pieces and I was left in the arms of grace. Grace that covers my sins, grace that works through imperfection, grace that is great when I am weak. Grace that loves me just as I am. Whoever that is.
I feel a tiny bit of an identity crisis because so much of my identity has been made up of this facade. I've thought about getting a nose ring or something just to prove that I am not that too-good-to-be-true person anymore. Really I don't think it's necessary. I am just excited because there is so much more room to breathe now. There is so much more grace to just be me and to draw near to my God knowing confidently how much I a loved. My friends told me that this is a journey, and I think that the person who has been hiding behind the mask will come slowly creeping into the light more and more. That really excites me. It is scary and unertain but it feels alive and true.

I look forward to meeting myself.

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