Love drop the masks

by Craig on December 29, 2010

I have always had the social skills, but like a pre-schooler handed a canvas, a palette of colors, an assortment of brushes, and different mediums to choose, I never knew how to put them together and make the art.

This year I am painting with love – and connecting.

This connecting thing is difficult.

I have always been the rebel, never the joiner…

even with my faith.

The big thing about connecting is this.

In order for true connection to happen – masks need to be dropped.

Because love does not wear masks

Christians are like lions. When a lion gets sick or injured they hide it. They don’t want to show weakness to the other lions.

I don’t know why a bunch of geese are a gaggle,

or a bunch of cows are a herd,

but I totally get why a bunch of lions are a

Pride.

I’m no different than the rest of us. I’d like people to see me as more successful than I am. I know what God thinks is important – and what is not – but I still would rather people think I have more than I do, or have failed less than I have – or have made fewer mistakes.

At least I hope I’m no different than the rest of us – because I’m spilling a little here.

The me that was, before God took up residence and began a long and grueling remodeling, was arrogant and self centered to the max.  I was immature, flighty, and I used people. I was charming, and I mastered the art to get me through. And I never really cared about the feelings of others. I knew how to pretend, and was a great actor – but I only looked like I cared.

Should I be admitting all of this?

It sounds horrible.

I feel like I need to say – I was a nice person – really – I was.

I was.

I was!

Still, all that not nice-ness had to go when I met Our Lord – and it didn’t go without a fight.

I’d like to say all the pretense is gone. But which of us doesn’t wear masks?

Christians are maybe the worst at wearing masks. That’s why non-believers think we’re hypocrites. Our masks don’t hide as much as we think.

I want to be seen as person of great faith, godly character, a master of defeating temptation.

While under the mask I fail, I sin, I doubt. But I don’t tell anybody. At least I didn’t till I had a blog.

This is risky, this taking off of the mask. But that’s what love does.

Love drops the masks

Oh how we love to look like we’re more than we are. That’s what the clothes are for, and the cars, and the little lies, and the big houses. But houses built on sand are notoriously unreliable. Pretense is only a distant and weaker cousin of reality.  Fancy is just a game we made up. Real is what we are when we’re alone in the bathroom.

God loves nobody more than me. He doesn’t love anyone less either. Children of the only God are special – but ordinary just like everybody – but special – but ordinary. Ordinary is what everything is and anything else is pretend. Who needs the game?

I’m gonna give it my best shot – NOT to play this game today.

This day there will be no trying to look more important,

or more together,

or more informed,

or more certain,

or less insecure

or less afraid,

Or anything more or less than I am.

Love is not afraid to be seen as commonplace or ordinary or weak.

The new thing is the dropping of my mask.

I hope the lion pride doesn’t turn on me.

Even if they do.

Well, making God smile is more important.

In God’s love

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie December 29, 2010 at 1:49 am

I’m with you, but I need to do it more than one day. I have someone near that takes advantage of me taking off my mask. It makes it riskier, but perhaps all the more important for me to do it, in His eyes and plans. This person places much importance on masks. Could you please pray for me? You know it’s not easy looking bad all the time, right? ha!

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Craig December 30, 2010 at 2:04 am

Deb. I’ve prayed. That’s all. I’ve prayed.

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Anonymuss December 29, 2010 at 2:14 am

The information about lions is stunning, Craig. How like lions we are! (and sheep, too, but that is different)

Masks…anonymous…one pretends to be what it isn’t; the other prefers not to be known-at least not to any who might come this way, but only to some. Selectivity isn’t an option so known to none it must be. (There can be very strong reasons for not revealing one’s identity.)

Masks-we do them especially for those who know us. It’s why it is easier for us to pour out our true troubles or circumstances to strangers-we are anonymous to them. Maybe anonymity is better than masks-we can be what we are but we don’t reveal who we are? Is this why aspects of 12-stepishness can be so helpful? Because it removes the proud ‘who’ and allows the honest ‘what’? Still chewing on some of the ramifications of all this.

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Craig December 30, 2010 at 2:09 am

A. I’m a deep thinker – and my brain is always moving – yours beats mine to the finish line most days. I’m kind of used to A. And have always been impressed by your clever spelling choice. God Bless – I get it.

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bill (cycleguy) December 29, 2010 at 4:12 am

Craig: thanks for sharing your heart. Love the lion story. I reckon I am too much like that also. I want to hide my true thoughts behind a mask for fear of being left behind.

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Craig December 30, 2010 at 2:12 am

It’s sad when the lion gets left behind. They wounded lion will become prey on it’s own. But the pride will just move on – no turning back. Sad. Nature is mean. We’re mean too – but nature is brutal.

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Lisa notes... December 29, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Craig,
Way to go! I think you will find the lion pride will turn towards you, not away, for revealing who you are. You still sound like a pretty nice guy to me. :-) It is easy to get by with wearing our masks, but there is such freedom when we take them off. May you be blessed much in your year of connection. Love that theme! You’ve definitely connected with many today.

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Craig December 30, 2010 at 2:14 am

I suspect the blinders off and then mask off is going to be an adventure. Oh well – already started down the path – it’s already been a bumpy one. But here we go….

Thank you for being here Lisa. God Bless.

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Melissa December 29, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Great post! Losing our masks and our “fear of man”/need for approval is a sure sign of maturing in Christ. The more we know we are loved, the more we are free to love just as we are. The more we walk in humility, the less we judge others, and the more we forgive and give freedom to those around us to be who they were created to be. I had a whole year of humbling and walking bare before the Lord with no masks, no pride to hide in…it was very painful. But today I give thanks and praise. Religion no longer has a hold on me. I am free. God is leading us into His wide, open spaces where all our insecurities are met my Him. I love what you are sharing here! More, Lord! Blessings.

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Craig December 30, 2010 at 2:18 am

Melissa where did you get all your wisdom? What you write… Wow. Thank you. I grow every time I read something you’ve written. God Bless

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Scott Wolf December 29, 2010 at 9:47 pm

When I am around other Christians the masks go on. When I am around non believers they come off. Don’t know why but I am guilty.

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Craig December 30, 2010 at 2:19 am

Welcome to the lion pride Scott. We so need help. All of us. In this confusing mess of life in a broken world – we need help. How do people make it through without God. A mystery.

God bless and thanks for reading Scott.

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Susan December 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Masks are difficult to let go,especially when one has worn it “PRN” for so long. I get tired, tho. I’m tired of “being strong”, “bearing more than anyone should have to & doing it so well”, “having so much and so few would ever know”,etc. I will say I learned my mask skills from both my amazing parents and some of the not-so-amazing church members in the little township church where I grew up. The ones who looked down their noses at the slightest thing from a little girl giggle, to recognizing the rummage sale dress. Their reasons were different but the effect was the same-“get back on the horse,show her who’s boss” (ow!); “you are smart&special&what you wear doesn’t matter-those people are shallow” (ow!). Please know I adore my folks&the vast majority of the church friends; but you all know the type. Just like the snotty little girls in 4th grade PE when you were the only one “maturing”,who then told the boys who snapped your straps and *you* got detention for decking them. Then for a few minutes everybody was the same& you could wear their mask. Now, after all the good stuff that seems like a century ago, the stress eats away&the DD’s (darn diseases) all kick in and you hear the opening stanza/paragraph. And my favorites? “How can you be so sick&look so good?” or “How can you…and be so *happy*?” one that cut to the quick was”YOU? Panic attacks? You GIVE people panic attacks! Your expectations are so high for yourself your staff can’t ever measure up!” (and yet those are the ones who have my back,cuz I always had theirs) So the mask comes off when I show love & caring & compassion for *others*, but how do I take it off for me? A little help here? I’ve got the PRN thing down to a T-just not for me. Oy. Sorry to babble. Hit a button/nerve (one that isnt damaged yet…or is it?). -s-

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Craig December 30, 2010 at 2:16 pm

I so get the “how can you be so sick and look so good” thing. The sleep I have been deprived of for more than a decade has wrecked havoc on this body. But it is in ways that people don’t notice. I get it Susan. Thank you for your “babble”. I was blessed in the reading of it. God Bless.

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Michelle December 30, 2010 at 3:23 pm

You might be interested in John Ortberg’s book Everyone’s normal until you get to know them.
http://www.amazon.com/Everybodys-Normal-Till-Know-Them/dp/0310228646
I learned so much about authenticity. All the best!

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Susan December 30, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Michelle, would that be in the library? Great price@Amazon,but hafta do library awhile. Thx! -s-

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Craig December 30, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Michelle, thank you for reading. I will look into the book. I think this “connection” thing is going to be significant – and not at all easy. But it is love. So it will be done. God bless you.

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Debra December 31, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Hi Craig,
This is my 2nd attempt to connect with you. Yesterday I was sure I posted here but now see that my comment never went through. So here I am again.
Wow! My first impression of this wonderful post.
In my most recent blog post I include a link from the scene in the Lion King where Simba is gazing into a pool of water at his reflection, when he hears his father’s voice saying, “You have forgotten who you are… Remember…” Having dwelt in Prideland, Simba lost his identity. Why do we wear these masks? Isn’t it because we’ve lost touch with our true selves, like Simba? We only lose the masks when we regain a sense of who God created us to be. At least that’s my personal experience.
Once again, thank you this grand post. So happy to have connected!
Debra
http://debrasblogpureandsimple.blogspot.com

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Craig January 1, 2011 at 11:10 am

Debra,

First I am so sorry your initial comment didn’t go through. And I thank you with a whole heart that you came back again.

Amen to your Simba lesson. I preached a sermon once on “remembering who we are” – my fave illustration was the episode of Tom and Jerry, you know – the cat and the mouse – the episode where Tom got hit in the head by a falling iron during a mad chase after Jerry. He forgot who he was and the mouse used it to his advantage and ran poor Tom ragged.

Cartoons – who’d ‘uv thunk huh?

And your wording here hit me and caused a thought – thank you. When you wrote “We only lose the masks when we regain a sense of who God created us to be.” That’s powerful – and made me think that maybe we can only be who God created us to be – WHEN – we lose our masks. Thank you. I am truly grateful you are here. God Bless.

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Emilie V January 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Thank you for the reminder that love drops the mask and doesn’t pretend… it was a reminder I needed… :)

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Craig January 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Thank you Emilie. Keeping them off – because they want to keep hopping back on – that’s the thing. It’s much easier to hide – it’s the “what they don’t know can’t hurt me thing”.

Thank you for reading. God Bless you and yours. Happy “Trusting” New Year

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Emilie V January 3, 2011 at 10:01 pm

And a Happy “Connecting” New Year to you! :)

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Craig January 3, 2011 at 10:40 pm

Iron sharpens iron and we need to stand together

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Rae January 4, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I struggle very much with this one. I try very hard to be honest, but I come from a family where my parents went to the other extreme of “airing dirty laundry” and so I try to avoid that. And somehow people then get the idea that everything is peachy-perfect in my life and that I think I have it all together. HA.

Anyway, I admire your balance as you seek simply to LOVE.

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Craig January 4, 2011 at 7:09 pm

You aren’t peachy perfect? I thought you were.

Oh, the mask thing – I get it.

You have been nothing but peachy perfect to me. I am as grateful as a kid under a Christmas tree that I get to read you. And thank you for coming here. God bless you Rae.

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Rose @ Walnut Acre May 12, 2011 at 9:36 am

Dropping the mask? Mine fits me so well I’m not sure sometimes I want to give it up. But I know I need to. So I pull it away briefly and and test to see if I will be okay without it. But I feel I have a need to hold tight to the mask just in case. My motto has long been “Fake it till you make it.” In this community of believers who share openly and work together on dropping the masks I am beginning to learn it is okay to drop mine too. Thank you for sharing this.

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Craig May 12, 2011 at 12:41 pm

I get this – “pull it away briefly and and test” — and it usually leads to putting it back on. No? I am determined to keep mine off now – a little decorum – Love is not rude – but no pretending. It’s hard – the pretend me is way better!! And this community – it seems like a safe place to drop masks – I agree – that’s one of the reasons I’m a guy – and I blog here. Thank you Rose – really – thank you – and God Bless.

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Katie May 13, 2011 at 7:21 am

Thank you for sharing your heart and taking off the mask! Taking off masks and revealing my true self to others is a journey I have been on for several years now. I am still amazed at how I have been embraced by those around me instead of rejected by most people. Some people are more comfortable if you wear masks. It is hard when you have been hurt so much to take off the mask. Just when I think it is off to stay I realize I have put it back on without realizing it.

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Craig May 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm

And there is a point I hadn’t considered – that some people would rather we wear our masks. That is brilliant Katie. Wow. Thank you for that. One reluctant mask dropper to another – thank you Katie – and God Bless.

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Lisa notes... May 13, 2011 at 4:45 pm

You’ve definitely been fantastic at connecting, Craig. I admire you for the way you’re succeeding in this goal. May the Lord keep blessing you for your authenticity and may it inspire all of us!

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Craig May 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Thank you Lisa – it seems forever ago that I began this year of connect – but it was just 5 months – and only 6 months I’ve been blogging. And you, my sister in Our Lord, have been there from near the beginning – and I’m thankful – truly thankful to get to read you – and have you read me. God Bless you LIsa!!

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Caroline May 18, 2011 at 11:58 pm

I agree with Lisa’s comment above me. You’ve absolutely shown and initiated connection!

Much of this post resonated with me, and I agree with this: “While under the mask I fail, I sin, I doubt. But I don’t tell anybody. At least I didn’t till I had a blog.” I told a select few, but writing has definitely allowed me to be more transparent. And I’m thankful. Writing organizes my thoughts and causes reflection. And renews my thoughts, actions, words to Him.

(Finally catching up on last week’s Faith Jam posts!)

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Craig May 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Caroline, thank you, connecting for me is still a challenge but becoming less so every day. It’s The Way, God wants us, it’s the way God wants me. But, between you and me, with a whole lifetime of dis-connecting – it’s sometimes a little scary. Again, thank you Caroline – and God bless and keep you and every one of yours this day – and better late than never – that’s what my mom used to say.:-)

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