Behind a mask, your fear resides.
And you carry with you a shield of pride.
They may protect you from the pain,
But they also insure no significant gain.
The very walls you think protect,
Leave you lost and alone in a life of neglect.
Your very soul is dying inside,
So why would you choose to continue to hide?
Remove the mask and walk into the light,
Cause it is there that truth and love collide.
I wrote this poem after the realization that so many of us put on a facade to hide who we really are and what we are struggling with from people around us.
For years I lived in my dream home driving my dream car with three beautiful kids and to outsiders I had the perfect life and everything money could buy. Everyone wanted what we had and we were very good at pretending everything was wonderful. But in reality I was dying a slow painful death. My husband (now my ex-husband) had an addiction to pornography which escalated to full blown affairs before long and I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. I was told that our personal lives were no one else’s business and sharing would be disrespectful to him, which was frowned upon by God. And since I wanted to be the woman God called me to be, I kept silent for a very long time.
So I put on a mask. I wore the mask of joy. I put on a smile and pretended to be so happy with my life. After all, God had blessed us with all the material things we could ever dream of. Who wouldn’t be happy with that? Right? I wore the mask of love. God says that love conquers everything so I loved my spouse with every ounce of love that I had in me, but inside I hated him for putting his insecurities and wants ahead of loving his family and God. I also wore the mask of contentment but deep inside my soul something was missing and as the days passed, my love for life grew weaker. And I wore the mask of fear. Fear of the future. Fear that my prayers would never be answered. Fear that I would never escape the living hell I felt trapped in.
After a decade of hiding and pretending, the truth was brought into the light. I removed my mask of joy and found true joy in God. Psalm 30:11-12 says, “You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!” God met me right where I was and my mask of joy was no longer necessary. Even though my circumstances remained, my new found joy in the Lord allowed me to experience joy no matter what was going on around me.
The mask of love was a little harder to tackle. I can honestly say that I didn’t love my ex the way God called me to love others because he was my enemy. I knew that the bible said to love your enemies but I just couldn’t do it. I truly hated him and there were many days that I wished death upon him so that the pain he caused others would cease to exist. But God was using him to teach me how to love those who persecute you. Letting God love me was the key. Once I gained a true understanding of how much my Heavenly Father loved me, then I was able to give that love away to those who I thought didn’t deserve it. Don’t get me wrong, I still get angry and hurt by the decisions of others but I now choose to respond in love. And on days that I can’t find the strength to do that, I don’t respond at all. Instead I take it to God and lay it at His feet.
It wasn’t until reading, “The Wall Around Your Heart” by Mary DeMuth that I gained a deeper understanding of why I wasn’t content. God created us for relationships. When sin entered the picture, with it came a multitude of disagreements. Those disagreements created strife in a key relationship and without harmony, contentment was very difficult and almost impossible. It wasn’t until I closed that chapter of my life that my contentment returned.
The most difficult mask to remove was the mask of fear. That very fear paralyzed me, keeping me torn between doing what I knew was right and doing what I was told. If I did what God called me to do, I would cause more problems in my marriage. If I did what my husband wanted, I would go against everything I believed in. But along my journey God was giving me little nuggets of hope by showing me that as long as I was walking with Him there was nothing to fear. He revealed Himself in such a way that I finally let go of all my fears and nailed them to the cross. Letting go allowed me to finally become the woman God created me to be without hiding behind another mask.
If my story resonates with you, know that God is with you. He lives in you as a believer and He will never leave you or forsake you and He will work everything for your good and His glory. Just be patient, cry out to Him when you are at the end of your rope and let His love engulf you during the trials. And never forget that He loves you more than anyone on this earth so don’t put on masks to hide who you really are from the world. He created you for a divine purpose and you cannot fulfill that purpose if you are hiding behind a mask.
Please give each of us the strength and courage to remove our masks so that we can become men and women you can use to further your kingdom. Teach us how to be authentic in such a materialistic culture. Let your love heal our hurts and your truth capture our hearts.
In Your Precious and Holy Name,