At times we can get overly concerned with how others see us. It may become a significant enough concern that we begin to “perform” in ways that make us look good. When that happens we usually fail to let our weaknesses, and our hurts come out – at least to others – especially if we have a role with a great deal of responsibility. Particularly if that is a spiritual leadership role in a church where, for some reason, we think we have to be perfect and have it all together. (OK, I confess … I might be included in the “we”).
When that happens we may begin to consider that we are accepted by others only because we seem to have it all together. The fact is that the “with it” Christian is a fallacy. Each and every one of us fails in some way. When the combination of our weakness and the felt need to keep up appearances is unchallenged we can get so caught up in our need to perform that we might choose to a “performance mask” that keeps others from seeing who we really are.
Someone once said that all people seem to have three deep longings regarding love, and to the degree we consider them unmet, we will wear masks in order to protect ourselves from being exposed or hurt. As best I recall the three longings are:
- to be loved with a love that is so free that they don’t have to fear being real, even if it means being weak;
- to be loved with a without fear of being used, or worse, abused;
- to know love so strong that it won’t distance itself from me even when we hurt.
Blessed is the one who knows this kind of love in his family and friends. More blessed is when we understand that we always have this love in Jesus! Hopefully we might love others in a manner that would help them loosen any mask they might be wearing.
On a related note Anne Jackson’s Permission to Speak Freely touches on this topic in a redemptive and hopeful manner.
|Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession, and Grace|