I don’t know about you but I’m not exactly an early riser. It’s hard to drag this tired body out of the soft, warm covers to answer the cry of the alarm. To rouse sleeping children into wakefulness so that we don’t miss the early morning school bell…again. To dutifully pack lunches and shovel breakfast down my youngest so she won’t “starve” by mid-morning. It’s the mom routine, repeated over and over again, morning after morning in our house.
For years it has been the same routine. Get up, dress the kids, feed the kids, fill backpacks, lunch money, gym clothes, permission slips and oh yeah…get dressed. Don’t forget to get dressed! Heaven forbid If I wear my PJ’s in public and not realize it!
Dash to the closet to throw on something sensible, reasonable, without stains or tears…ok, maybe today, three out of the four will have to do. Grab a pair of socks and the tennis shoes laying under the pile of folded jeans. Awesome…almost ready…just one more thing. One more thing to complete the outfit. Carefully I reach up, hesitating as my hand hovers over one, two…ok, maybe three. Which mask will it be today? Decisions, Decisions. Maybe I better just take all three. You never know who you might run into on the drive to school.
Sounds silly doesn’t it? Or maybe it sounds all too familiar. I know it was for me.
For years I had my own set of masks I wore. Masks that covered up my poor self image. Masks that covered up my insecurities and failings. Masks that covered the dark days of depression and the even darker nights of fear. I thought if I covered them up that maybe, just maybe, those open and festering wounds would cease to exist. That somehow the mask would cover up the fragile heart underneath… at least enough for life to just move on.
On the occasion that the mask would slip, I would quietly excuse myself from the room to adjust my mask. To make sure that any hint of pain, sorrow, wounding or inadequacy could not shine through. It didn’t matter how caring the eyes on the other side were…the mask must remain.
Sure, there were those times that I thought maybe it was time to let go of the masks, to move from behind the pretending. To see what was beyond the facade. But it didn’t take much. A slap to the face was enough to send me scurrying for my mask. To drop it down just in time to cover the slow reddening of my face and the tears that threatened behind my eyelids. You see, my fragile heart looked better behind my flawless mask. It was there I thought I was safe.
It was there that I thought I was maybe meant to live. That lofty dreams aside, maybe life isn’t so bad in this place. Right? I could do this. I could play the part of a poser.
But the thing about a mask..it gets heavy. It becomes a burden in and of itself to bear. We grow weary in the carrying of it and the polishing we must do to keep it flawless. Jo Ann Fore puts it so eloquently in her book ~When A Woman Finds Her Voice.“Life as a poser we understand. But the day we desire to become what we had only pretended to be wages war against our pretender-selves – That is the day real life begins.”
And that’s the thing…when do we let go and stop pretending? Pretending that all is well, that pain should not be felt or experienced, that loss should not be grieved, that wounds should not hurt. That disappointment should not sting, that love should not be hard work. That following our dream should not take sacrifice. That motherhood should not be difficult and exhausting, exhilarating and sorrowful. That marriage, in all it’s complexities, should not at times baffle our hearts? Our fragile hearts.
Did God himself not make provision for those times? Did he not give us the words to lend our hearts strength, to soothe the weariness, to bind up the wounds and to heal the hurts. To live life authentically…as he meant for us to live it.
It took me a long time to come out from behind my mask…..to be able to stand before a mirror and recognize the one staring back at me. Sometimes I still lose her in there…behind the mask that threatens to take over. The one that says I’m not enough. Threatening to steal my joy and my dreams.
And yet, in that moment I must bravely take hold and pull…pull down the masks to reveal my fragile heart. To trust the God who made me, fashioned me within his care and in his likeness. To trust that he knew what he was doing. To silence the poser and walk, dressed in his love, goodness and mercy knowing that I…I am enough.
Today I am linking up over at Jo Ann Fore’s with some other really awesome women. There we are sharing our hearts, our fragile hearts….as we talk about the masks we wear. I hope you will join us and through their words gain hope and encouragement.