Removing My Mask

Sometimes I despise myself. I hear how I sound, watch how I act, and see the way I look. I wonder that anyone can bear to put up with me... my vagueness, stupidity and ignorance. The bumbling way I talk, my horrid laugh and my clumsy actions. People... what do they see? Am I merely tolerated? People on the street: am I just a silly, shy girl not worth their time? ... Losing people I counted as friends only now to be ignored by them... I really must be so disagreeable. People online are kind, but they only know text and a face. I'm certain, none would truly like who I really am... I fail my family consistently in countless ways. I feel I've done nothing worthwhile with my life, and I honestly don't know where God wants me to go from here. My faith is faltering and weak, doubts wreak havoc as I cling to Him, the only One I know Who will never leave me and will always love me. Tears make my jaw ache as I try to suppress them. I am tired, and just wish faith could be easy, then I feel guilty to think about all those so much worse off than I. Those who love me in my life, I wonder, do they really know the messed up person I can be inside?
-- My Journal, dated 27th May, 2013.

So begins the blog post of my unmasking.


This year, God's quest for me sounded simple: discover who you are. Since I've always considered myself a very simple and uncomplicated person, one would assume this task should have been easy. I have no past to speak of, I have the most amazing parents I could ever ask for, awesome siblings, a wonderful home, and an all round blissful life. This adventure should have been a walk in the park.

It hasn't been.

In fact, by far it has been one of the most deeply trying challenges I have yet encountered. I have learnt that one should not write/blog about the things they have discovered, because it does not mean they have learnt it at all. Far from it. It only proves to God that you are now ready to learn it. So we could say, this journey may have really gotten started after I wrote the article that became one of my most popular blog posts. Since then, I have been on a learning curve that has gone through many valleys, and over many mountains. It seemed as though God opened my heart like a clock, bare cogs and dials staring out, stark and uncovered; doubts and misgivings stripped bare and brought into the light. My follow up post on boycotting the masquerade was a nightmare to write, taking me many weeks, even after beginning it. Every time I sat down to write, the words simply would not come. Satan whispered in my ear every time I thought about it. "Hypocrite," he hissed. And I conceded; he was right. For the very thing I was going through at the time was exactly what I was writing against. I honestly didn't feel up to writing a blog post on not hiding your failures, or challenging people not to "hide behind a perfect front", and to not listen to insecurities, because I was feeling them. See my above journal entry again, if you need further proof.

Even whilst I was in the midst of dealing with this self-worth issue, God wouldn't stop reminding me. Just when I think I've mastered the art of seeing myself the way God truly sees me, I am disappointed by sad memories of bygone friends, or I'm hit by a wave of loneliness out of the blue, or I read something that challenges me again. And again. And again. Good friends in the blogging world, David and Lisa, both gave me huge nudges from God (without realizing it), and I finally figured: if they could be brave enough to do so, then I, who write about this stuff and tells it to everyone all the time, should also be brave enough.

You see, I have this mentality where I believe everything I say - for you. Yet somehow, I find it so much more difficult to live out myself. In boycotting the masquerade, I was totally preaching to myself the whole way through. And it's hard. It's hard to remember the truth in a world full of lies. It's hard to be real in a world full of fakes. If you don't believe me, you should, because I'm there; right now. More often than not, the battle is a constant thing in my mind, to remember, to recall, everything God sees in me, and not what others do. Some days I'll be going great guns. I know I'm loved by an incredible God, and He is all I need, and He's doing awesome things in me. Other days... Yeah. Just look at that first paragraph again.

So I'm removing my mask. I never thought I wore one, but it turns out, I still do carry it in my back pocket for a rainy day. What am I without it? Well, I'm not always this bright, bubbly, ever optimistic, big Bible discussion nut that people may think I am.

I fail. Often. I get so impatient so easily, and over the littlest things. I vent my frustration on my siblings, and lose my temper. I can be terribly sarcastic, and find it easy to mock.

I get lazy. I go at a job to get it done, and sometimes I get sidetracked and waste so many minutes or hours on something that doesn't amount to anything at all.

At times I feel ashamed by how often I appear so "spiritual" and Godly, yet my faith goes through so many deserts and dry places, and I hate that sometimes the things I say come out from force of habit, rather than sold out conviction. I rush my mornings, and hurry my Bible readings, and I seem to forget everything I read the second I leave my room. I fall into bed at night with a murmured prayer and a guilty heart, and yearn to do better in the morning, only often to repeat the same process again. I remember that my walk with God is a relationship, and wonder why He still sticks by a friend like me.

I like to think I'm strong, and confess it loudly. I listen to the many pains and struggles of others, offer virtual hugs, advice and encouragement, even whilst I might be suffering from a woeful head cold or a discouraged soul. Yet I - in my "strength" - rarely ever share my struggles with friends because I'm meant to be "there for them to lean on".

I am easily offended. I claim to have thick skin, and generally I do. But any hurtful comment against me or my character goes deeply within me, and I never forget it. Satan replays it at full volume in my brain whenever I feel low.

I feel like I am never doing enough, or what I'm doing isn't what I'm supposed to be doing. I'm sitting at the computer right now looking at the time and feeling guilty because I should be in bed. I get so much self-worth out of hard work, yet I tell everyone you can't earn God's favour. What's up with that?

I am not a good friend. That's what I tell myself. I don't make time for people, in my constant busyness. The times I do spend with them are hurried, in amongst my trying to listen and encourage. I hate feeling under par when it comes to caring for people, because it's also what I'm most passionate about. Helping people. Yet I fail to achieve even that to my satisfaction.

I find it difficult to trust people. As I have frequently shared with my Mum - who alone, I truly have the strongest heart tie with - I feel like I am a friend to many, but I myself have very few friends. Having loved and lost people before, I automatically expect that friends will never remain; they are to be held like butterflies in an open hand, and someday, they will fly away. I have trained myself not to need people, and I feel guilty over my heartlessness. Yet at the same time, I cherish my friends and mourn for them when they are gone.

I feel like a walking paradox. Because although I read over what I have just written and recognize which points are lies from satan, my flesh still desires to believe it, and hide it. My fingers are itching on the keyboard right now to go up and edit parts out of my journal entry, and amend my confessions. I don't want to appear weak! I don't want to appear as someone who fails, and falls short; I don't want people to think I need them at times, or need encouragement; that would surely damage how I help people - isn't that the reason people come to me, for love and care, because I'm so strong and invincible?

Nada.

If they come to me, it's because of God. Not me. Funny how hiding our flaws is pride.

Pride. Pride, pride, pride. This is the characteristic I despise in humanity the most. I loath, and abhor it. It riles me to no end to see people so puffed up with it to the point they cannot show compassion on their fellow man because they are so much "holier than thou". Yet what does that say about me? I am prideful. I don't wish anyone to know my weaknesses. I wish to appear strong and confident; a pillar of wisdom and a sea of compassion and encouragement. What a farce. The revelation that this desire not to appear weak is rooted in pride has broken upon my realization like a kick to the stomach. My strength and wisdom without God's? The idea is laughable, yet I try to live like it.

How much I identify with Paul.

But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.
- Romans 7:23-25 NLT

Wretched person that I am in these moments of weakness, I sigh to myself. I feel so much less "Christian" in the times I want to sit down and quit. But wait - what else did Paul say about these moments?

But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!
- 2 Cor. 12:9 AMP (emphasis mine)

Huh. Would you look at that. It seems to me, that should I want to give God the greatest glory and the most room in my life, I ought to boast in my weaknesses. After all, if I'm boasting in my strength, what is there to boast about? Nothing at all. I can't do anything by myself. But God - Oh, those incredible, unfathomably awe-inspiring words! - God can use my weaknesses and display His amazing, fantastic power through them, transforming me into something I could never have seen in my fits of low spirits, bad temper, or hasty impatience.


Do you know, I did no research at all for this post. Aside from taking that hideous passage from my journal, I sat here and wrote the whole thing in one stint, feeling strangely as though it were really God with the keyboard, writing me a lesson to read. The discovery of my pride, the new understanding He has brought to me through those Scriptures... Do you have any idea how good the God is you serve? The same God whom I serve?

This God who knows all of this about me - and much, much more - yet He chooses to cherish me as the apple of His eye; that His smile is continually upon me and His thoughts turn towards me more times than all the sand. I did nothing to deserve this love. This perfect love. Why should I be so consumed by my imperfection, when I can receive this perfect love in spite of it? Doesn't that really make your problems shrink? Doesn't that just make you feel small? God knows you inside and out, back to front, yet He loves you! He loves me!

I drink up my own realization, and the words run like a stream through the desert of my own heart. Though tears sting my eyes, I feel bold, reckless, courageous. Who cares about weaknesses when you've got the strongest God in heaven who loves you and is perfecting you, each and every day? I've not arrived, but praise God I've left. I am a weak person, but I have a strong God. Care to walk with me to His gates?

Just as I am,
Just as I was,
Just as I will be,
He loves me, He does.


I guess the thing I can find joy in is that, in spite of it all, God can use me to help others, countless imperfections and all. 
- My Journal, 22nd May, 2013

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us,
Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
- Hebrews 12:1-2

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12 comments:

  1. Oh good, welcome to the club. :) I was hoping you would do one of these posts, and I hope more people would. It's good for us, and I can see it was good for you too.
    Yeah, it hurts to find out who you really are - the fear of not being up to par for everyone else can be so overwhelming. I catch myself thinking and feeling that all the time.
    But he who confesses and forsakes his sins shall have mercy. :)

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    1. Thank you again for your post, David. I kept thinking over the last few passages of it as I was writing this. You're right, it hurts to be the real you. But now that I realize it is often pride and fear that prevents me from being the way I was made, I know what lies to rebuke and in what ways God wants to strengthen my faith. :)

      Thanks for commenting, I was sorta hoping you would. :)

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  2. "I am a weak person, but I have a strong God."

    That is the story of us all. :) Good thoughts.

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  3. Thanks for reading, Jonathan. :)

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  4. I literally just finished reading this, read down through the comments, stopped, covered my face with my hands....and started sobbing. Because this is ME. I could have written this about me and it would be 100% spot on. Especially the part about trusting people.....oh how that hurt.

    Thank you so much for writing this out. I'm off to go start writing mine. It's going to be hard, but worth it.

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  5. *hugs Lisa tightly* My wonderful friend... all I can say is that you are not alone, and God knows our weaknesses far better than we ever could. Why else would He die for us? :) Isn't it wonderful that we can both be so flawed, but we are both so special to Him? And furthermore, He wants to take those flaws and shine through them with all His glory and beauty, so much more than we know.

    I know mine was very hard, but so worth it. :) Love you, Lisa dear. xox

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  6. Thank you for writing this.... Sometimes, I feel like I am the only one making mistakes. Just another of Satan's lies.

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    1. You're welcome, Anna. I read your post too, and you are definitely not alone. I have known many of your fears as well. I am so much more flawed than even this blog post admits. Don't believe the lies, trust the truth. You are amazing and loved. :)

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  7. * hugs Jasmine tightly * Thank you, darling. You know, you are one of the most courageous people I know. I feel the exact same way sometimes, but there are very few people I would say that to. Love you darling!! xx

    P.S. We need to have another good chat. :)

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  8. *hugs back tight* I love you, Bek. :) Thankyou for being a friend who has seen so much of me, and yet still stands by me. :)

    We do need to have another good chat, very soon. :) xox

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  9. That journal entry could have been written by me at them moment... over the last few weeks especially I have been tormented by the question if my friends even really like me or are just to scared of me to tell me the truth... it's terrible, but these things just keep replaying... thankyou for posting, lovely. It's a horrible thing to go through - and I'm so sorry if I have ever contributed to your hurt - but it is encouraging t now that I am not alone. Love you. xxx

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  10. Darling Emily, you are such a precious, precious girl. I am so grateful to have had you as a steady friend and presence almost my whole life. I think for me personally, I find where friends have differences, we can sometimes believe that we aren't accepted for who we are because of those differences, or because of those flaws in ourselves. But it's not true. Being real means loving one another just as we are, and understanding we are all on our own individual journeys with God; we are all a work in progress. :)

    The devil knows how to get us off balance by listening to our insecurities. That's what the Bible means that we are "drawn away by our own temptations". It's because we know our failures so well that we are drawn away by the lies. But God calls us chosen, loved, approved, righteous, and favoured. None of the things we feel about ourselves! And those who are truly walking in the love of Christ will call you that as well. You have true friends who love you, Emily. Though we may all be in different stages of our own individual journeys that we may or may not always be at liberty to share fully, we are on the same road. And we can ALL love each other right where we're at. As I love you, very much. :) Keep pressing in, honey. Listen to the truth of who you are, don't listen to the lies. You are a treasure, and you are never alone. xox

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Please feel free to share your thoughts. I would love to hear your perspective. Let's learn from each other.