The Great Masquerade

I am already hot. Sweat beads into the fabric around my armpits and torso. My legs already feel wobbly from these stupid high heals I have on. Something is poking around in my perfectly coiffed hair- a bobby pin must have lost its end. Darn it. My intricate mask, adorned with peacock feathers, is itchy and distracting, making it a bit hard to see. 

I’ve turned a few heads with my entrance and I know that I look good. The dress I chose is heavy and rich, a deep purple with just the right amount of beading detail, and a splash of sex appeal.

On the outside I am picture perfect, ready for the masquerade ball to commence- a bit of a show stopper if I do say so myself.  On the inside though, I am rather unsteady- a mixed up girl with nothing but a shallow outward confidence and a pretty made up face.

Tonight, I am incognito. Veiled behind my mask and concealed under my dazzling dress, I can be who I want to be- and no one will know the difference.

This is who we are- all of us sometimes. We hide behind a mask, our dressed-to-impress clothes or our ability to fake it till we make it, while deep down we are a mess.  {Read this to understand what I mean by the word mess.}

Why? Why do we feel this need to masquerade as beautiful, have-it-all-together people? Are we afraid of letting the world (and in particular the church) see us for who we are- especially THE CHURCH? It is a CRYING SHAME!

The other day, my sweet friend, who is dealing with daily, debilitating panic attacks (amongst other things) said to me, “Everyone wants the answer, ‘I’m fine’ when they ask how you are doing. It’s like the Christian F word!”

It seems that genuine, care and concern are a kind of taboo. Maybe we go to church for more of a fashion show, no?!  I have witnessed the procession my whole life-  snazzy collared shirts, slacks, fancy-schmancy dresses, sling back heals, fine jewelry- and this is just the attire. Plastered on smiles are acceptable too.

Are we so busy with our production of church or reaching out to lost souls (which is obviously important), that we are missing the hollow, grief-laden folks right there, sitting in the chair or pew next to us? Or maybe we have become so adept at the cover-up we have fooled even ourselves? Do you want to give someone a “Jesus band-aid” and be done?

Maybe it is time to strip away the finery, take off the ornate mask and see the real YOU, ME, THEM, US. Maybe it is time to quit shunning the rebels in the youth group who are walking away from truth. Maybe it’s time to cry with a woman you know says her marriage is crumbling to pieces or she actually thought about suicide.

The ability to masquerade AND the propensity towards turning a blind eye or deaf ear to the hurting- I have participated in both- for shame. BUT I am desperately trying to change that.

Here is a beautiful story that illustrates what God thinks of the messy people (illustrated perfectly as Shepherd and sheep):

 The Lord and King says, “I myself will search for my sheep. I will look after them. A shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them. And I will look after my sheep. I will save them from all of the places where they were scattered on a dark and cloudy day.

 “I will bring them out from among the nations. I will gather them together from other countries. I will bring them into their own land. They will eat grass on the mountains of Israel. I will also let them eat in the valleys and in all of the places in the land where people live.  I will take care of them in the best grasslands. They will eat grass on the high mountains of Israel. There they will lie down in the finest grasslands. They will eat grass in the best places on Israel’s mountains.

“I myself will take care of my sheep. I will let them lie down in safety,” announces the Lord and King.  “I will search for the lost. I will bring back those that have wandered away. I will bandage the ones that are hurt. I will make the weak ones stronger. But I will destroy those that are fat and strong. I will take good care of my sheep. I will treat them fairly.”

Jesus resonates this when He, in Luke 15, tells the story of the lost sheep. The outwardly masqueraded Pharisees and teachers of the law are miffed because Jesus EATS WITH SINNERS AND WELCOMES THEM! Gasp! Then Jesus, in truly perfect God-Man fashion sets them straight with a series of  “lost and found” stories (including the one about the prodigal son).

So I say: let’s take off our masks, be willing to bend down and help someone pick up the pieces of their broken life, not afraid to get messy.

chic-black-silver-gold-mask

Two Things

Today, we took an atheist to church.

My son had two friends spend the night and they wanted to go with us. Never thought one of them would be an outspoken God- hater. It started out a bit uneasy. His tone was loud enough for those around to hear and he had several comments. But then he stopped. The sermon was on God’s love- how to live it out and how it “looks” to others. He listened and took copious notes.

Afterward, I asked both boys what they liked or disliked about the service; what they thought was weird or helpful.  The atheist commented that the pastor contradicted himself. We talked about that. He thought the choir who sang, “Praise God!” (over and over) was telling everyone what to do. That bugged him. I explained, “You know when you find something out and you are really excited? You want to tell other people about it, right? That’s what they were doing- telling people about God because they are excited about worshipping Him!”

Praying that seeds were planted in hearts that will soon be watered.

~~~~~

Today, I made a new friend at church.

She and I have worked together in the nursery over the past six months. During chats while taking care of babies, I’ve learned a great deal about her and vice versa. Come to find out she and I are more similar than we would have thought. I love her openness and honest heart. I love her passion for God, husband, children and grandchildren. I cherish her wisdom about life.

It is often the intangible nature of just being in the same place at the same time that can cause a friendship to form between two people who would have otherwise not been drawn to each other. She isn’t someone I would have naturally sought out because she is a *wee bit older than I am. But I am happy God had other plans. 🙂