Sunday, February 2, 2014

Being Real

The Comment:
Why is it so hard to take off our masks? To take down those veils that we so carefully put up to keep people from really knowing us. It's like I want so badly to have those transparent relationships with people, but I freeze up when the time comes to talk to them. I guess part of it is the fear of feeling judged...but I know in that same vein that I shouldn't worry about that because the things that I'd feel judged about are all in my past. I'm not that person anymore. But it's still hard to be really real with people.
Yes it is.
I've been thinking lately about how much I still try to hide while simultaneously trying to be honest. It's really quite exhausting.

I often ask myself: How can I be a good example, while also admitting the millions ways that I don't have it all together? How can I openly admit my darkness while not leading others down a path where sin seems justifiable to them? How can I fully take off the mask so that others are encouraged and challenged without simply seeing my sin, judging me, and rationalizing sin in their own lives (i.e. Debbie does/did it can't be that bad, right?)

It's a fine line. A balancing act.
Then again, I don't necessarily think that the place for my confession of sins is via the Internet. My place to fully let down my mask isn't through various blog entries. I can be vulnerable, real, honest...but also maintain a degree of an appropriate amount of disclosure.

It becomes tricky when I allow that to extend to all areas of my life, though. If my closest friends, mentors, my fiance are never allowed into the inner circle of what's going on... that's when something is wrong.

I think it's important to ask yourself a few questions:

  1. Who are you wearing your mask around? All people, or just some? 
  2. Why do you think you're still wearing it? Is it simply out of fear of being judged...or is there another reason?  
I sometimes think that when we don't fully disclose every detail of our darkness (be it the past or the present) to everyone we encounter, we bash ourselves for not being 'real'. I'm not certain that this is the mark of authenticity, though. Who you are isn't defined by what you have done or who you might have been in the past, or even your current struggles. It shouldn't affect the way that you have to interact with people now. In Christ, you are a new creation...the old has gone, the new has come. In Christ, we put away our old selves... it's gone. It isn't who we are anymore. 

Living in Christ, in our new selves, with our new hearts... it isn't a mask. It's who we are now. The old stuff... it's fading away, it isn't what's defining of us, it isn't what everyone needs to know about us in order to determine if we are a worthwhile person or not. That stuff will come up as we get to know people and, yes, it's our responsibility to be honest about who we were and where we come from (because of the testimony it is of the Lord's faithfulness in how much He loves us and what He has done for us). It's also our responsibility to be honest about where we're at and how fellow believers can come alongside us and pray with us and encourage us (as that's how the body of Christ functions), but that doesn't have to be broadcasted to everyone you encounter. 

It doesn't mean you aren't real.
It doesn't mean that you're constantly wearing a mask. 
Full transparency can be reserved for an elite few. 

We can't expect our leaders in ministries to be perfect all the time, but we also can't expect them to tell us of their biggest indiscretions constantly (nor do we necessarily want them to). We trust that they have that inner circle of people who are holding them accountable, digging in deep, and that they're going before the Lord together. 

Because we're all a work in progress. 
But if you're hiding all things from all people...? Then, let's talk. 
If you're ashamed of your past? I get it. But, your story is that of one who has been redeemed and you may be surprised by the many ways the Lord longs to use it once you allow the light to impact it. You may be surprised by the number of people who have shared in a similar struggle or are in the midst of something right now. You might be surprised by how unveiling yourself (your past, your present, etc.) to people you encounter in various settings might bring about true life-change that you never could have on your own accord. Sometimes, in being transparent with others, you have to remind yourself that it isn't always about you... being vulnerable and dredging through all the gross stuff can sometimes be the most selfless thing we do if it means bringing about good for someone else, if it means revealing a bit more about the character of God and what Christ has done in our lives. Sometimes, we just have to decide it's worth it...even if we aren't proud of what we've done/who we were. 

Pray about discernment and wisdom as you share your life with people. Maybe sometimes you do need to broadcast things to the world (I mean, didn't Paul on some level??....Although we don't know what his 'thorn' actually was, but I'm guessing his inner circle probably did). There are certain levels of disclosure to have in certain situations/scenarios. 

But, don't automatically believe the lie that you aren't real or that your mask has yet to come off if you're walking more fully in the redeemed life that Christ has called you to just because it's sometimes hard to open up about your past/current struggles. There's a time and a place for that.... there are people for that. 

Walk confidently in who you are and who you are becoming.
Confess your sins/junk to a trusted few whom you know will urge you toward better and are willing to get on their knees with you. Open up about who you were when the time is right, and allow your story to be a testament to the Lord's saving grace. 

And above all...
Let's remember that our lives are not our own. 

You just might be more real than you think. 

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this. It means so much that you'd take the time to answer my question. Your words are very encouraging when I feel like I'm so often surrounded by people who seem disappointed in my lack of sharing. There are a few who know me and in whom I can and do confide, perhaps that's enough for now and I'll cross the bridge of opening up to others when it needs to happen. Thanks again for taking time out for a total stranger, it means more than you know.