Tag Archives: women

Behind the Mask

Masks.

I am very familiar with masks. I began wearing them at a very young age. I would do anything and everything to become what I thought people wanted me to be. If they wanted funny I gave them funny. If they wanted smart, I would give them smart. If they wanted perfect I practically killed myself trying to obtain perfection. If they wanted remorseful I would act sorry. If they wanted beautiful, I spent hours analyzing my looks and perfecting my image till I met the world’s standard of beautiful.

All this hiding led me to a very dark place where my masks replaced my identity. I didn’t even know who I was without them.

Since I was little I’ve had a love of performing. I lived for people’s praises and for their applause. At first it started out as make believe, Disney princesses and such, but gradually it became my oxygen rather than a little girl’s pastime. I needed it to breathe, to feel alive and to feel accepted, liked and at times even loved. But it was an empty love.

I craved becoming someone else and disappearing behind a character. In high school I started acting and writing dramas, writing stories of characters that I could step into and become rather than offer the world myself. I was way more comfortable hiding behind scripts, costumes and other people’s pain… mine was just too overwhelming to face.

Sometimes at night, when all the lights were out and it was safe, I would slip that mask off revealing my tears. I remember crying out to God to forgive me for all the things I thought he wanted me to be that I wasn’t. But just as quickly as I revealed myself, I would slip that mask back on, because I couldn’t stand who I was without it…I didn’t know that person beneath the fake smiles and sarcastic humor and the friendly face. Underneath it all I hated myself and lived under a constant tyranny of shame and self-condemnation. How could Jesus love me, if I didn’t even love me?

I used food to try and numb my pain and drown out all the negative voices in my head. It became my constant companion and comfort in times of sadness. I hid behind baggy clothes and heavy jackets (just a different kind of mask) and lived a not so secret life chained to addiction. This is a battle I’ve been fighting my whole life and to this day I struggle with these unhealthy patterns.

It wasn’t until about 6 years ago, that I was finally hit with this simple but incredibly profound truth.  God loves me. I grew up in church, I have known this since I was a little girl or did I know it? ‘Yea ok God loves me’, but I never understood how he could like me.

Did you know the word Beloved appears over 100 times in the Bible? And most of the time it’s referring to you and me, or God’s Son Jesus?  Webster defines Beloved as: Dearly loved. A much loved person. It’s described with words like, Darling. Dearest. Cherished. Treasured. Admired. Adored.

Romans 9:25 “As indeed he says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’ “ ESV

Ephesians 1:4 “Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” NLT

 God calls us by the same name as He calls His precious Son, Beloved. Understanding what that means, that we are God’s Beloved…His deeply loved daughters…it changes everything.

This truth is continuing to change my life. Every day I am learning to offer the same love and grace towards myself that my Heavenly Father does. Because if he likes me, if He loves me then it gives me the freedom to like me and I don’t have to hide anymore. You see my addiction to food has just been a symptom of a really deep pain. My sin was that I kept pursuing a false self, I was pursuing acceptance and the praises of men, and I was covering up and denying my true self, denying who God created me to be. He’s calling the little girl inside all of us to come out of hiding, just as he called Adam and Eve out of hiding after they ate the forbidden fruit. His love, which called us into existence, calls us to come out of shame and self-hatred.

He invites us to step into the warm light of his unbearable forgiveness, endless love and acceptance just as we are, messy, broken, undeserving; yet, beloved daughters of the King. 

So lay down your mask Beloved and be fully known, rest in the arms of the Father who loves you like crazy and calls you His own. He is waiting, hand extended – all you have to do is reach back. 

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The Secret to Being Sexy – A Response to video “Makeup Fake Sexy Body”

Today I participated in a typical pass time, an all to frequent one, the endless scroll through my Facebook feed. All together bored, and too complacent to do something meaningful, I looked to Facebook for entertainment. Next thing I know I’m watching this video titled, “Makeup Fake Sexy Body”.

I found myself sucked into the mastery of this makeup artist’s talent and the insanity of it all, along with millions of other viewers, who’ve liked, shared and commented on this heartbreaking reality. As I watched quite literally appalled, I became more and more heartbroken that this is what young girls and women are preoccupied with – creating illusions and buying into the lie that says, “This is sexy”. In it’s very own title it exposes the fact that it’s fake; therefore, it’s very intent is to deceive, it’s the deceiving of others but more importantly it’s the deceiving of self. In a world of everyday contouring, neck highlights, fake eyelashes and crop tops displaying fake abs, it’s easy to get lost in the world’s standard of beauty, because if Selena Gomez does it, then it must be sexy. Everywhere I look I see women hiding their true selves from the world, tucking their shame, insecurities and their authentic selves behind the masks they so desperately cling to. A flawless contour will never be able to cover up the condition of one’s soul and the more layers one applies, the more difficult it is to be known; which isn’t that every heart’s deepest desire – to be be known fully and to be loved in spite of it?

I haven’t been able to have children yet, but I think about my unborn babies all the time, I dream of who they will become and how I will help them discover their true selves. I think about my future daughter and how she’s going to be watching me, what will I be teaching her without realizing it? What will my son learn from me about true beauty and how to recognize it in his future spouse?

I was a child, my mom took her seat at the vanity to prep for her weekly date night with my dad, and I took my seat at her feet, watching her every move. She began applying her foundation, quickly blending her blush. That shimmery stuff she called eyeshadow I wasn’t supposed to touch went on next, and then came that black stuff in a tube they call mascara. Her mouth moved around in a funny way as she brushed that stuff on and then a nice shade of pink on the lips polished it all off. She frequently ended the ritual with a satisfied, “That’s good enough!” and in 10 minutes or less she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. I remember thinking, ‘If only I could look like that when I grow up’.

Well, I’m all grown up now and have long since mastered the art of applying makeup. I love the stuff, it’s fun to play with and it’s extremely useful on those days where half an eyebrow is just not cutting it. Yet, every time I sit down to do my makeup, I’m often reminded of that little girl watching her mom and I now realize my mom was teaching me something much more valuable than where to apply blush. She taught me the secret to being sexy.

The secret lies in verses 3-5 of 1 Peter chapter 3. “Don’t be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. This is how the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They put their trust in God…”

Here’s the deal, hair and makeup, clothes and jewelry, they are all super fun and completely ok. I love it all. Where I think we can struggle is when we become “concerned” as 1 Peter says, or preoccupied with them that we neglect what’s most important, which is our inner beauty. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Beauty Fades” but what doesn’t fade is the condition of our soul. That lives on, no matter what. In hindsight, it was the condition of my mom’s soul, the years she attended to her inner beauty that gave her the courage to approach each day with a, “Good enough” to the outside shell. And for the little girl watching, it is a great source of encouragement for when I face the mirror each day.

See I wasn’t just watching my mom put on her makeup.
I  watched her get up every morning and spend hours with the Lord in prayer and study Scripture.
I watched her commit to and care for her marriage.
I watched her sacrifice and pour herself out for her children.
I watched her love.
I watched her trust.
I watched her be brave.
I watched her mentor.
I watched her listen.
I watched her give.
I watched her laugh at herself and the days to come.
I watched her hurt and choose to let go of hate.
I watched her scared and choose to surrender fear.
I watched her choose joy.
I watched her care.
I watched her participate.
I watched her be passionate.
I watched her humility.
I watched her tired and choose to face each day anyway.
I watched her be broken and walk towards healing.
I watched her cry and choose to be vulnerable.
I watched her live.

And as I continue to watch my mom live her life surrendered, putting her trust in God, I have learned that the secret to being sexy isn’t in hiding, it’s in laying down your mask in utter confidence that you will be exposed and in doing so you will surely be known. And in that single act of bravery, daring to believe that you are loved just as you are by the God that sees you, the real you and says, “That’s my girl, I love you.”

And beloved isn’t that the greatest thing of all? To be be known fully and to be loved in spite of it?

So let’s embrace the idea of “Good Enough” and stop clinging to our brushes and contour kits; trading in fake sexy for true beauty. Confidently resting in the grace of the fact that we are loved by our Creator, because somewhere there is a little girl watching.

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