“We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—“
-Paul Laurence Dunbar
These are the first two lines of one of my favorite poems. It speaks to the cultural truth that we like to hide from reality.
It’s second nature to me. I have worn a mask my whole life, one that attempts to make me appear as an individualist, willing to do my own thing no matter what anyone thinks. One that makes me look as if I don’t need other people’s approval.
Lies, all bold-faced lies. I’ve only recently begun facing this truth that I’m a liar.
I desperately care what other people think. I always have. My life is so full of paralyzing fears of relationships that I literally can’t deal with them at times. I second guess everything I say, everything I do, everything I think:
Did I say the right thing? Is someone going to be offended?
I should have kept my mouth shut!
Should I have done something differently? That made me look stupid!
I am, as I see it, socially awkward. My life has been spent attempting to emulate the outgoing, the “cool,” the people who can talk to anyone with confidence. When I couldn’t copy them, I sat in my tiny corner with a mixture of envy and awe toward those front and center, who work their way through relationships with seeming ease.
I became a people worshipper. My entire identity was wrapped up in what other people thought of me. I clung to those who “approved” of me, my friends and family, as my heroes and my idols. When these idols let me down, as fallible humans always will, my identity went crashing down, too.
I was the first point in last Sunday’s sermon a person embroiled in “an obsessive and destructive pattern of using people to…feel loved, becoming a slave to others’ opinions.”
I was so busy seeking approval that I didn’t see what God wanted me to see: His plans, His purposes, His sovereignty, His wonder, His deliberate creation of me as I am.
There is such great freedom in taking the mask off, to breathe fully and without fear. To finally realize that I am God’s precious daughter, created as beautiful in His sight, even with what I see as horrible flaws. To be honest enough to reveal the truth that yes, I am a mess who needs to get my priorities straight, but I am not a hopeless mess. To step out in faith to do what I can to repair relationships destroyed in part by my unrealistic expectations of people as my saviors.
When my focus is on God, I have freedom to pursue what He wants for my life without distraction, to face Him and the world without the suffocating restrictions of a mask of lies.
Blog entry by: Nancy Vasquez