I’ve always wanted to go to a masquerade ball. Call me crazy, but from the first time I watched Phantom of The Opera on stage, I’ve wanted to go to one. I want to wear a gorgeous dress and a beautiful mask to conceal my identity from those around me. I want to eat from a fabulous spread of food and dance the night away without anyone knowing I was there.
Now for those of you who know me, you’re probably confused by this because you know my standard attire is yoga pants, tank tops, sweatshirts, and slippers. And you know I’m not much of a girly-girl. But every once in a while I like to dress up, heels and all. And every Halloween, the desire to go to a masquerade ball bubbles to the surface for a blink of time.
Because I love seeing the variety of children, pets, and adults in costume as they masquerade through the day. I’m always amazed by what people come up with year after year because their costume choices reveal what they’re interested in, their sense of humor, or who they would like to be. For some, Halloween costumes offer a chance to try on a different personality for the day, for others they allow their inner drama-king or queen to surface, and for many, like my kids—the Halloween costume is nothing more than a vehicle to collect a bag full of candy.
But today as I watched Andrew’s classmates play games, make crafts, and do other fun activities for their Halloween party, I couldn’t help but think about the masquerade we live out in our daily lives. Our costume may not be Spiderman, a cowboy, or a whoopee cushion—but we wear them just the same.
Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we pretend to be something we’re not rather than being honest about who we are?
I have a theory:
We’re so focused on the external, what we can see; that we give little to no attention to the internal, who others really are. We tend to make snap decisions about a person (or ourselves) based on our idea of beauty, the clothes they wear, how clean they are, etc. We tend not to look past what is and isn’t attractive to our eye. We shirk getting too close. We don’t want to know what lies beneath the surface. Because when we know, we’re destined to care and caring leaves our already broken and bruised hearts exposed and vulnerable.
I’m not trying to condemn anyone or recreate the wheel; so stick with me here.
I’m just wondering if we wear our costumes BECAUSE of this knowledge. We know others won’t look too closely because it could cost them something. So we paint a picture of ourselves, create an illusion, or a invoke a distraction to keep others from looking beyond the surface. We masquerade to keep people at arm’s length. We distract people with immodest dress to keep them from seeing the hot mess we’ve got going on inside.
I say this because this was me. I remember walking a block and a half from my front door to my high school and becoming a different person; the person I wanted to be, with each step I took. I didn’t want anyone to see the broken, hurting young lady I was. So I put on my mask—the happy-go-lucky cheerleader. The friend who was always there to encourage you and had your back. No one, I mean NO ONE knew I was dying inside, coming apart at the seams.
Beloved, THAT IS NO WAY TO LIVE!
Let me encourage you today by sharing with you how God helped me to remove my mask:
“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7, NLT)
The more I meditated on this verse and allowed it disclose my masquerade, the more I realized to be who God has called me to be, I needed to be Me, hot mess and all.
I had a heart that loved Him, though I wasn’t in love with Him yet, and that was good enough for Him. The only other thing He required of me was, to be honest with Him. And once I was honest with Him, I could be honest with myself. And once I was honest with myself, I could be honest with the other people in my life. And then I could be honest about the mess and start the healing process.
Beloved, when I realized God doesn’t see things like we do and that He looks at the heart, I was RELIEVED! I didn’t have to keep up the pretense anymore. I didn’t have to be someone I wasn’t. I could be real. I could be me with all my broken pieces and jagged edges. I could be me with all my anguish and gut-wrenching sorrow. I could be me with all my anger and fear. I could be HONEST.
The energy it took to maintain my well-crafted façade was insurmountable. I went to bed exhausted every day. And every day I died a little more inside knowing I wasn’t genuine, but I had been doing it for so long, I wasn’t sure what was real and what was false anymore. My goal was to survive, to keep people from finding out the truth.
And then God showed me a better way. He gave me His identity as His Child. And that My Dear, gave me freedom!
Oh, Precious One, if you are living in a mascarade, come before the One who sees the heart. Let Jesus set you free so you can show the world who you are—A GENUINE, REAL CHILD OF THE LIVING GOD!