I am new to Writing Canvas, but unfortunately, I am not new to masks. This week's quote from Dr. Slattery certainly rings familiar with me.
"You cannot cling to a mask and God at the same time."
One of the earliest masks I remembering wearing, was in high school. While editing the year book and serving as a student body officer, I was also desperately trying to appear "normal" - to fit in. This was difficult when you come from a home impacted by substance abuse. But each morning I put on a smile, walked into the classroom and tried to appear confident and competent. I had become a Christian during my childhood, but in high school I really learned how to pray. Sadly, most of my prayers at that time were misguided pleas for Him to help me keep my cheerful, confident mask in place, to hide the sad, lonely girl that I really was. But even while wearing my mask, I knew one thing, that Jesus loved me.
In my twenties, I became a pastor's wife. Now I really layered on the masks. I wore the mask of contentment, instead of asking God to help me grow the fruit of patience, so that I could learn to actually be content. Yes, I knew the verse, "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." (Php. 4:2 NIV) But what I knew intellectually and what I practiced in daily living were two different things.
Eventually, in my forties, my masks were stripped away by a series of life-losses that were both excruciatingly painful, and strangely freeing. I was no longer "all that" but I was learning to cling to God in a whole new, and more authentic, way. I was exhausted from clinging to my masks, and when I finally laid them down for the last time - or so I hoped - I began to learn that it was not what I could do for God that counted (as that was, in fact, very little); but rather what mattered was what He had already done for me on the cross. I could cling to Calvary instead of some silly mask of self-reliance.
Finally, I could be confident in something that actually mattered: "Being confident of this, that He who has begun a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ." (Php. 1:6 NIV)
There are still times when I am tempted to put on a mask of confidence, when conflict is looming, or fear is dogging my trail. But then I remember, I do not have to cling to my mask, because it is not about what I can do, it is about who Jesus is. I can cling to Him and He becomes my confidence. What a relief!