I’ll admit to you..I dug this pit myself.
Every time I said yes when internally, I was really shaking my head “no.” Every time I put on the pretty-picture image that they all wanted to see, just because they wanted to see it. The secrets, the lying, the constant pressure to conform to a standard, to be the person they thought I was, to live up to the flawless code, to exist as a figment of someone else’s imagination…
I’ve spent alot of my life that way. I grew up homeschooled, raised in a conservative family, going to church, all of which were good things.
But everyone saw me as the golden child, and I let myself become enslaved to that image. Even in my church circles, I was the innocent, darling, sweet one that most of the other kids didn’t like…because, let’s face it, I was a cross between super-shy and snob. I bought the lie that I was perfect.
Then, at age 13, Something switched. Broke. Went south. Dove off the deep end. I started struggling with anger, depression, and desperation.
I finally realized something ….
That pretending to be perfect didn’t make me perfect. And making everyone else happy with me didn’t make ME happy…
Have you ever tried it? Tried to make yourself into something you will never be? Good grief, it’s EXHAUSTING!
Thank goodness, God found me in the midst of that, and He’s what saved me from destroying myself when I was 15 years old and at the end of my rope. He showed me that I wasn’t perfect, and could never be perfect, but that Jesus became the perfection that I needed so desperately. That’s when I realized the miracle of His love…that it wasn’t based on what I did or didn’t do…but on grace…
That helped to set me free.
But I was still trapped, for years after that, by the opinions of other people. I thought that I had to do what they said, because they said it…and that any questioning, anything that was purely from my own brain, would be automatically wrong if it didn’t fit their script.
You know when that changed, people? You know when that changed?!
It changed in the fall of last year, in 2013, when I started hanging around different sorts of characters. Making my own choices, both good and bad.
It really consummated when I started getting to know him better….
My ex taught me that I was a person, not bound to how I grew up or who other people wanted me to be. I admired his confidence, admired his sense of being independent and free. But I couldn’t have that for myself…I was still so trapped…so constricted…that’s why I hid our relationship…that’s why I hid behind the mask of who everyone wanted me to be…
And then it all ended. My life was a disaster. I wanted to die.
But you know what?
The mask was broken.
The curse was finished. I saw what I was, and everyone else did too. No more hiding. No more pretending. No more lies.
As the mask of my “perfection” fell off, I got to see the wreckage. Had to face the demons behind my eyes. Had to stare them down in the mirror. Had to fight, and war, and battle…
But, then, I felt it….
People, do you understand? Do you understand what it is to be enslaved for so long to a pattern, to a standard that exists in your own mind, and then to be freed from it? Let out of the prison? It takes leaving comfort behind, but then you are able to dance again without shackles, to sing without your voice echoing on the concrete cell walls, able to laugh and be who you are without caring what the other inmates think?!
Have you ever felt it? Can you feel it now? FREEDOM!!!
Those are my confessions…of being a mask wearer….
And now…I confess..
I am strong. Not perfect. I am brave. Not perfect.
I will be kind to others. I will love them. I will fight for them. I will serve them.
But I will not be confined to their standards to impress them.
It’s one thing to look back and say that you lived for other people. To help them. That your life glorified God and was a blessing to others.
It’s totally different to say that you lived FOR others. For what they believed, not what you believed. For what they dreamed of, not what you dreamed of. It’s a waste…
You were created….CREATED…to be YOU!!! Not someone else’s idea of you! You, who you are!!!
Be brave. Be strong. Live for God. Live for what you believe. But please accept, and know in your heart, not to live for the opinions of other people. Believe me…it is a one way ticket to jail, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars. It is enslavement.
That comes when you accept who God made you to be…what He made you to do…what He has put into your heart…YOUR GIFTS. YOUR DREAMS. YOUR THOUGHTS. No one else’s!!!
That’s why, when my parents offered me the chance to move out of my hometown, right after my life fell apart, I said no. You wanna know why? Because my passage was contingent on me going to a strict Christian college. All dresses, only one allowed church, no leaving campus by yourself, no music other than hymns, constant room searches, no movies, no writing without review by the board, no friends of the opposite gender…that sorta stuff.
You do not know how BAD I wanted to leave my hometown.
I almost took the chance.
But I am FREE. And even if it means I have to fight my demons every day in this town, I will stay, because I am NOT going back to being enslaved by legalism. I will NOT wear the mask again.
I heard this song yesterday. Burned it onto a CD actually, so I could listen to it in my car. My ex told me about it on one of our last days together, and it came to mind when I was thinking about being free…it’s called “Beautiful Pain.”
My favorite part is in the second verse:
“And I’m pulling for you to push through this feeling
And with a little time that should do the healing
And by tomorrow you may even feel so good that you’re willing
To forgive them even after all that **** you been put through!
This feeling of resilience is building….
And the flames are burning quick as fire would through this building you’re sealed in
But you’re fireproof, and flame retardant you withstood it!!!
And as you climb up to the roof you’re just chillin’ and you look down
‘Cause you’re so over them you could put the heel of your foot through the ceiling!
Fireproof. Flame-retardant. Free.
That’s what freedom is folks. It’s beautiful pain. It’s being real, and not fake. And being open and realistic comes with the price of some people’s judgment, and other people’s hate.
But it’s much better than wearing the mask.
Trust me on that.