Unmasked

Unmasked

Finally we are breathing a sigh of relief and taking off our masks. A year and a half of living in cautious isolation, distance and covering up to provide a measure of protection for ourselves and loved ones has been very difficult. Humans were created to be interactive using all of our senses. It really is nice to see my friends’ faces in person and not on a screen or half hidden.

A mask is simply a covering for all or part of the face and they have been used for tens of thousands of years for many different purposes. There are many types : Camouflage (to conceal) – Ceremonial (funeral, worship, war) – Cosmetic -Disguise (pretend, theatre)-Natural animal color patterns and Protective (from dust, pollutants and infection). This list represents masks that are changeable, tangible and visible.

But don’t we all wear masks on our hearts from time to time? We try to hide our fears, feelings, faults and failures. But we really need friends and places where we can be ourselves, free to share and feel safe. Unfortunately The Church has not always been that safe place for wounded people to come as they are. The world sees a bunch of hypocrites. False expectations of performance or presentation get in the way of true transformation and growth. We need to remember that The Church is not about a building but it is a bunch of broken and imperfect people who are gathered to worship a big and perfect God. When Adam and Eve sinned they covered themselves, ran and hid. God went looking for them calling, “Where are you?’

The group Casting Crowns wrote a song called “Stained Glass Masquerade” that spells out the feelings of not belonging while everyone else pretends they have it all together.

Are we happy plastic people
Under shiny plastic steeples
With walls around our weakness
And smiles that hide our pain
But the invitations open
To every heart that’s been broken
Maybe then we close the curtain
On our stained glass masquerade

God knows we wear masks of pride, offense, perfection and strength to hide our fear of exposure, inadequacy and failures. These masks prevent us from finding grace and healing. They hide the real us but also keep other people from seeing Jesus. Masks obscure our vision from seeing the needs of people near us and the purpose He has for our lives.

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. Psalms 139:1-3 (NLT)

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16:7 (NLT)

23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body Eph 4:23-25 (NLT)

Jesus is our living example. He never wore any kind of mask. He had no use for pretenders and called them out. He was exposed, vulnerable and judged. It might be scary to take off a mask you have been wearing for awhile. Find a friend to pray with you for courage and the strength to be real. Encourage one another to let the light of Jesus shine through your imperfection ……. and live mask free.

Free to Be Me by Franseca Battistelli

‘Cause I got a couple dents in my fender
Got a couple rips in my jeans
Try to fit the pieces together
But perfection is my enemy
On my own I’m so clumsy
But on your shoulders I can see
I’m free to be me
And you’re free to be you

Holding on to Grace

Holding on to Grace

I’ve just finished a long season in life caring for my Dad. When he passed away in December I realized I don’t have to pay his bills, check his clothes and advocate for his care.  Someone has already taken his bed at the nursing home and I don’t belong there anymore. I no longer will bring him a Dunkin and a muffin. I guess part of what I feel is grief in saying goodbye but also a loss of my position as daughter and caretaker.

My children are grown and are trying to establish their own lives in this world. Jeremy – our special needs son – lives at home and will always need supervision and support to manage life but he too has a job and daily routine that doesn’t include my direct care.

Not quite 60 I have retired from my career as an operating room nurse due to health concerns. Although I mostly worked part-time it has been a challenging, highly skilled and exciting part of my life and meaningful part of my person-hood.

I am a person that likes “to do”, be busy and be involved. But at this juncture in my life when I should feel free and relaxed, I started hearing an old voice of insecurity!  “You are too young to retire, you are lazy, nobody cares, what are you going to DO with your life?”  A friend hit the nail on the head when she commented , “I think you are under spiritual attack .You’ve got to give yourself grace. You have been through a lot the past few years!”

8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.       Eph 2:8-10 (ESV)

I’ve always been told Grace means “God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense”. Jesus paid it all for gracerockmy salvation and I don’t do anything to earn it. So what does grace look or feel like?  What are some of God’s riches for me at this point in my life?

It is FREEDOM –

  • no regrets in how we cared for my Dad or my Mother-in law – no guilt.
  • to rest – I don’t have to work a very physically and mentally demanding job .
  • to choose – I don’t have to beat myself up for not going to the gym or whatever lie the inner voice says

My IDENTITY is not defined by what I do!  It is WHO I AM.

  • In Christ, I am a daughter of the King! His Princess! His beloved Child
  • In My relationships – I am a wife, mother, sister, cousin, friend and neighbor- I can focus on, enjoy and pray for them all!

37 And Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ”     Matt 22:37-39

My RESPONSIBILITY in this new season

  • is to love God first and foremost with heart, soul and mind. I cannot do that without daily spending time reading His word and in prayer.
  • right now is to just BE and to WAIT for Him to show me what the next step is. He isn’t finished with me yet!

“Be still, and know that I am God”.       Psalms 46:10 (ESV)

 “but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”    Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)

   Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.       Heb 4:16 (ESV)

 My PRAYER

  • Dear God, help me to stop striving and just hold onto GRACE.

 

gracefree