Because It is Time to Take Off Our Masks
Lately, I have noticed a disturbing phenomenon among women, both in social and spiritual circles.
I hesitated addressing this issue for fear of alienating readers but as stated in my last post, we as women need to hear the truth more than ever.
We live in a society that encourages everything but this – AUTHENTICITY.
Yes, we encourage openness but within limits of course never wanting to offend or disgust others with our deepest truths, nastiest wounds, worst habits, ugliest traits, repulsive sins, massive mistakes and monumental failures.
Social media only encourages this. “Show us only your perfect selfies, vacation pics and family photos, please.”
So we hide behind our photoshopped, filtered facades always fearing being exposed resulting in public condemnation yet deeply wishing we could take off the mask of pretend perfection and just be who we are, flaws, faults, ugly and all. And it is exhausting.
Many were raised to live our lives based on what friends, family, neighbors or church members might think.
Now as adults we have become chameleons in order to please the spouse or parents, get the job, land the dream guy, score the promotion or make friends.
We alter our appearance, downplay our talents and strengths and forfeit our dreams in an effort to gain the very approval, acceptance and love we refuse to give ourselves until finally we lose our identity completely and no longer recognize the woman in the mirror.
Often that woman next to us in the church pew is fighting back tears, overcome with loneliness and aching with remorse, regrets and hurts yet because she is so afraid of what others might think she always dons her “spiritual face” pretending it is well within her soul while feelings of righteous inadequacies overwhelm her.
Sadly, instead of finding the peace and freedom she desperately craves, she lives in constant fear of condemnation and being “found out” often feeling like a spiritual fraud.
I know. I have been that woman. Have you?
Because, what if someone finds out you did this, failed at that, went there, disliked her, dated him, were divorced, had an affair, drank wine on occasion, got fired, went to rehab, filed bankruptcy, walked out on your family or you yelled at your kids this morning, haven’t picked up your Bible in days, became furious with a spouse, friend or co-worker, overspent, gossiped, complained, missed church multiple Sundays in a row, skipped the gym, cheated on your diet or even had thoughts or said words you well know were better left unthought or unsaid?
Authenticity isn’t about sharing every flaw we have or every sin we have ever committed on Facebook or Instagram.
Authenticity is about daily embracing our own complete humanness, flaws, habits, traits, quirks, – everything we are – without apology and in gratitude for God’s mercies which are renewed each morning. (Lam 3:23)
Only then will we understand that every single woman we know is also human and deserving of that same mercy.
There are other women fighting temptations, battling bad habits, making mistakes, consumed with guilt and self-condemnation and feel empty, undesirable or never “enough.”
In my work, I sadly meet countless women who are walking away from spiritual circles because while searching for acceptance they were pelted with the stones of condemnation and now believe they are unholy, unrighteous, unworthy and unforgiven.
A past sin, a present circumstance, a destructive habit, shame or simply feelings of inadequacy, these women are in desperate need of love, mercy and encouragement from their spiritual sisters yet feel condemned, judged or excluded from certain spiritual cliques.
It’s like high school, only worse.
So within this holy environment of spiritual sisterhood instead of finding acceptance they are shamed and often wrongly assume God feels the same way thus creating an ever-growing divide between themselves and the Father they desperately need.
Once a woman told me “If the church can’t forgive me, how can God forgive me?” That broke my heart.
Many times when a woman experiences condemnation within the spiritual circle she believed would encourage her, she will sadly return to the bondage of the very habits and destructive addictions destroying her now believing forgiveness and salvation aren’t available to her and at that moment hope dies.
Perhaps there are some women who have never spiritually stumbled and don’t know what it means to create a “holy mess” of their lives or conveniently forgotten that period when they did.
I have a deep admiration of those women however I am not one of them.
I believe there are other women who aren’t either yet possess a deep desire to experience a meaningful relationship with the Father as well as with other godly women but fear of being unfairly judged or labeled holds them hostage in spiritual isolation.
While they are fully aware of their spiritual shortcomings, it isn’t the condoning of them they are seeking but acceptance in spite of them.
Friends, it is time to drop our stones, toss our labels, tear up our scorecards, stop the criticizing, lay down our gavels and leave the judging of others to the Judge, being reminded that “if any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” (John 8:7)
Because “how can you say to your brother, ‘let me take the speck out of your eye’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” (Matt 7:4)
Could it be that we are unable to forgive ourselves or receive forgiveness from Christ therefore we want to make sure others aren’t forgiven either?
Is it possible that as long as we focus on the flaws of others we can avoid facing the ugly within us?
Now is the time to encourage and allow one another to finally remove the masks that suffocate our joy, hide our true identities, prevent us from experiencing spiritually rich friendships or joining a body of believers, hinder us from using our gifts for His glory and keep us falsely believing we are unholy, unworthy, unloveable or unspiritual.
Now is the time to embrace each other as sisters and daughters of God, (flaws, faults, past, present, pretty, ugly, shortcomings and all).
Can we do that?
Because the only scarlet we are to be wearing is the crimson stain of Christ’s blood He shed for us and not the scarlet letter of condemnation wrongfully pinned upon us by ourselves or others.