Tearing the Mask

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The problem with being a Christian is that somewhere along the line people got the idea that Christians are really good people.
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We’re supposed to have it all together. Good grades, families, jobs. We’re always happy, always giving, and if we occasionally run into snarls, they’re not big ones. We don’t cheat on tests or boyfriends, get pregnant outside marriage, or get addicted to anything.
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As Mary Poppins would say, we’re practically perfect.
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Except we’re not.
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We’re so afraid to fail this standard (that apparently everyone else meets), that we’re expected to meet – that we hide. And we carry an awful lot of pressure, shame, and guilt into that hiding spot with us.
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Have you ever felt that you just couldn’t tell someone what you’re really going through? You don’t want to tell people that you’ve been depressed, because that might mean you’re a “bad Christian.” “Good Christians” are joyful all the time, right?
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You can’t tell people that you struggle with an addiction. Or your parents. Or even that you’ve been abused.
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All of those things would ruin your image. You wouldn’t be a “good Christian” anymore. Maybe you would be downright rejected.
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So you try to hide it.
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A few years ago, I doubted my faith. I didn’t know if I really believed that God existed any more. I doubted that praying would do any good if He did exist.
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And I was terrified. I wasn’t supposed to doubt Jesus and Christianity. Maybe I had never had any faith at all. What was the matter with me? Dare I tell anyone? I had co-founded Bloom! Magazine, for goodness sake. Maybe people looked up to me. What would they think? Was I failing everyone and everything by having questions and doubts?
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It took a long time for me to muster up the courage to talk about it. But when I finally did, it was so wonderful to be able to walk through it with someone.
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Now, lest you get the wrong idea, doubt isn’t a sin. In fact, I would even argue that having questions – and doubts, for a season – is a normal and necessary part of spiritual growth. But this fake mask we try to wear condemns both the things that are sinful and the things, like doubt and depression, that are not.
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Both things need to be exposed to Light. We can’t hide them any longer, and we can’t carry the burden of all those secrets and shame by ourselves anymore.
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Because when we hide, we’re hurting ourselves by not getting help and not being real. We’re hurting others because we’re continuing the mad masquerade. When we break free, reach out, admit we’re not paper-doll perfect – we find healing. And we give others the courage to follow us, to speak up and find hope and healing for themselves.
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The truth is that none of us is perfect. I’m nowhere near it. I don’t know why we feel such pressure to look perfect and pretend to be so, pressure to have others think we are. But sadly enough, the back-breaking pressure is there.
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I’m not talking about glorifying our sins, but breaking free from the shame and darkness that hold us back and breaking free from the rules that say no one should know this and we definitely can’t talk about this in church. For we weren’t made to live this messy life alone; we desperately need a safe place where we can be real. And frankly, if we can’t find this strong community among Christians, we’re going to turn somewhere else.
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You just can’t spend your entire life hiding and pretending.
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And yet, Christianity should be the ideal place to turn to: a place where people understand, can encourage and challenge you and always point you back to the Cross.
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Sometimes, we are a part of a community like that. And other times, even in our churches, that freedom just isn’t there. Other people are hiding and wounded and afraid to admit they’re not perfect either, and sadly that can lead to more wounds and judgment.
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We’re all in the process of being healed and made new. No one is there yet. And whatever the secret you are hiding, I promise you that God’s grace and mercy are bigger.

And in the meantime, I pray that we would have the courage to be honest and full of grace. The courage to get help if we need it, and give help when others need it. To live honestly with others and let them be genuine with us. To be a safe and grace-filled place that others can confess secret sins and troubles to.
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Life is messy. We are messy. But the glorious truth is that Christ is making us new and making us whole – that because of His sacrifice, God already sees us as righteous. In His eyes, we already measure up.
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And that is the truth that will set us free and let us rip off the mask.-

Comments

  1. Thank you. I had a struggled with the smae thing a few years ago. But God made Himself real in my life and untangled the many lies sins. He is good and He has helped me. He helped me to see that He loves me no matter what and that that love wasn't based on me, but on what He had done.
    Learning to let others see us as we really are is hard. But God is good. He helps me to live as I really am. And that is freeing.

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  2. Merci pour écrire cela!

    Toutefois, cette page de commentaires ne permet pas d'écrire discrètement... est-ce intentionnel?

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  3. The Lord has been teaching me this over the last 6 months. I have definitely struggled to find the courage to balance being a "good Christian" and being honest about my stuggles. In the past, I've blamed it on the fact that there was no one around me that I felt I could share with, but now I look back and see that it was not the people, it was my pride that wouldn't allow myself to be that open and honest with my spiritual family. Since then, each time that I have taken the risk of being honest about my struggles and fears, I have felt so blessed. God has been able to use others in my life in ways that I have never allowed to happen before. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  4. Such a great reminder to us that we do not have to be perfect for God to be good, perfect, pure and holy! Thank you!

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