emotional masks
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None of us are particularly proud of our weaknesses, fears, failures, and missteps. Whether it’s something from our past we haven’t dealt with or something we’re currently facing, we all have areas of our lives that can hold us back from living fully and freely.

Day after day, we dress ourselves up and wear masks to put on the image we want others to see. Makeup, nice clothes, possessions, and platforms distract others from our blemishes. Meanwhile, we know the real us:

  • The struggle at home
  • The insecurity that is rooted in our success compared to our peers and those we admire
  • The debt we’re struggling to pay off
  • The new wrinkle or ever-receding hairline

In the quiet moments before we fall asleep or when we’re comparing ourselves to the world as we scroll through its highlight reel, we can be crippled by the struggle to truly feel the confidence we project outwardly to those around us.

This battle has been going on since the early days of humanity:

Genesis 3:6-10
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”

When Adam and Eve dishonored God, they immediately felt the weight of disappointing the one that created them. They saw their imperfections and did their best to cover and hide from each other and God. The thoughts of failure and unworthiness flooded their minds.

“Will God know?”
“Will God forgive me?”
“Will God still love me?”

We spend so much effort creating coverings for ourselves, but we’ve substituted fig leaves for a myriad of achievements, highlights, and areas of our lives in which we find pride. The unfortunate part about this is that fig leaves won’t hold up over time.

Shame wants to creep in and tell us we must put on masks to hide our true selves from the world. Shame wants to get in your head and tell you you’re the only one with that struggle. Shame greets you in the mirror, pointing out that flaw you can’t seem to look past. However, our darkest days, weaknesses, and biggest failures don’t have to be the things that define us. But if you struggle with shame and insecurity, you’re not alone.

What we see take place in this story is that when Adam and Eve ran and hid, God chased them. This same picture of grace echoes throughout the Scriptures. Regardless of the ways you believe you don’t measure up, God isn’t swayed by your failures. In the same way, he doesn’t continue to pursue you because of your achievements. Though there might be hurt, pain, and consequences associated with our failures and weaknesses, we aren’t defined by them. We live out a calling that tells of the good news that Jesus loves us as we are, not as we should be. Of course, we want those we lead to live freely in that love, but deep down, we can forget that it applies to us as much as it does to them. To live and lead wholeheartedly, we must remember that God’s love for us is not dependent on whether or not we deserve or have earned it.