When we are afraid of being seen for who we really are, we create appealing façades to hide our true-selves.
We learn to promote someone who is likeable, agreeable, valuable and desirable. And we cover over areas we consider to be flawed, blemished or that may be rejected.
In this process of masking we learn to deny God’s standard to live freely out of who He created us to be and we appease the standards that we think others are setting before us; leaving us vulnerable to the enemy’s attack.
- We often deny our true ideas or opinions
- We hide our real feelings and emotions for fear that we will be discredited
- We fear that if we are truly known, we will not be accepted as valuable
- We accept tasks that are above our abilities – to prove ourselves useful
- We place ourselves under a high degree of productivity
- If we have pushed ourselves too hard to please others – we will put on other masks to compensate – to get the job done with a standard of high perfection
“The greatest fear is being found out as a fraud
and our authentic self rising to the surface.”
Different by Design
Fear causes us to hide; but it also causes us to stand watchful and alert. Like a centurion, we keep guard over our masks to keep them from slipping, for fear that someone may find out that we are not as capable as we are projecting ourselves to be.
Why do I wear masks?
We can discover why we wear masks by asking and answering the following question.
What do I want others to see and think about me?
- I am beautiful
- I am put-together
- I am caring, kind, compassionate
- I can do what needs to be done
- I can do what you need me to do with excellence
- I am enough, I am valued
- I am not alone
- I am a part of something bigger
- I am at your disposal to please you
If we feel that there is a gap between what we want others to see or think about us, then we often put on masks to span the gap and portray something other than who we really are, or other than what we are capable of doing.
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe”
When we are fearful we begin to believe lies. We often rehearse these lies until they become messages that are etched deeply upon our hearts, minds and revealed in our actions.
Remember, the enemy of this world masquerades as an angel of light when he is full of darkness and there is no light in him. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
The list of lies we tell ourselves can be extensive. They can come from a childhood experience or an action we did as a teenager or young adult that stills causes us shame. As we grow older and continue to rehearse these lies, they just become more grown-up sounding; but the root of exposure and fear is the same.
With our masks in place, we begin to shield others from what our true emotions are saying. Eventually we can become numb and unable to name or identify the emotions we are feeling.
Read through the messages below. Choose one message that personally resonates with you. Can you identify when this message rooted itself in your heart and mind?
“I am so stupid. I’ll never get it right.”
“If other people really know who I am they won’t accept me.”
“There is no way __________ could love me with the shame in my past.”
“God can never forgive the things I have done!”
“If I could just get it together, __________ would pay more attention to me.”
“If I make that choice, they are never going to approve of me.”
“If I work harder, read my Bible & pray more; I’ll be worth something to God.”
“If I work as hard as __________ then I will be a valued member of the team.”
“If I take these mask off now everyone will know that I have been a fraud!”
“I need to do something to make __________ proud of me.”
“Wearing masks is wearisome.
After wearing them for so long
we often forget where the mask ends
and our authentic self begins. “
Different by Design
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (NLT)
God, I recognize the masks that I wear. I admit that I am afraid to be authentic. If I take off my masks I risk feeling exposed and possibly lose the approval of others.
God, help me to remember that you are always with me. I don’t need to be afraid of what others think about me. My fear of others will always lay a snare that trips me up; but when I trust in You, LORD, I am safe.
God, your love for me is perfect. You love expels all fear. Thank you, God, that you loved me first, before I could even think of doing good things. I cannot earn your love. Your love is unconditional, not based on what I do or don’t do.
God, wearing masks is wearisome. You tell me to come to You when I am weary and burdened, and You will give me the rest I need.
God, thank you that I can come boldly to you and find rest from this act of pretending to receive others approval. You are gentle and humble in heart and with you I can find the rest that my soul needs. I come to you today God and lay my masks at Your feet. I desire to live out of my God-given uniqueness. Different by Design. Amen!
*Prayer scriptures are taken from the New Living Translation of the Bible
(Joshua 1:9; Proverbs 29:25; 1 John 4:10,18; 1 John 4:19; Matthew 11:28-30)
Linda Jane Dingeldein: Different by Design recognizes the uniqueness in each of us as we celebrate the season reflecting Christ’s birth.
Photographs were taken by Linda Jane at the Hong Kong Flowers Market where the wondrous smell of pine boughs, and sight of pointsettias took my mind back to Pennsylvania Christmases!