Trying to be something you are not is a very exhausting process that eventually strips you of all you were trying to gain by pretending, anyway. It's so very deceptive......this farce......this mask. It promises happiness and peace and self-esteem. But in reality, it's a thief. A liar. A black hole.
When I became a Christian, a battle began within me. The real me..... the me I've never known....... began to wage war against the mask I've worn all my life. The mask wasn't 'safe' any longer. The real me finally realized that the mask was holding me back. The mask was keeping me from being what I was meant to be. The mask was keeping me deceived. The mask had to be eliminated.
That was 14 years ago. And I'm still fighting to take off the mask. I can go for extended periods without it. But when the going gets tough....or I get sad......or I notice the wrinkles around my eyes.......or the extra fat around my middle.......the mask makes a dramatic and violent return. The mask hates to let go. After all, where else is it to go? It has a life and mind of it's own.....but it still depends on me for it's survival. And I very often depend on it for my survival. Anything will fight to survive.
But as a 38 year old woman, the mask (if you've read my blog for a while, I usually refer to the mask as 'the box')......the mask becomes the enemy. The mask is an addiction that must be treated like any other addiction. And it's painful.
Fight as I may, the only defense I have found has been constant prayer. Years of prayer. And one biblical passage that came to me one night after agonizing prayer for help:
'Although they have allies and are numerous, they will be cut off and pass away. Although I have afflicted you, oh Judah, I will afflict you no more. Now I will break their yoke from your neck and tear your shackles away.' Nahum 1:12-13
I know that doesn't sound like much to most folks......but to me, these were the sweetest words I'd ever read. It pointed to freedom.
It told me that my mind created my mask to keep me safe. But....perhaps......now I'm up against more than just my creative mind. There's more to fight. Much more. And now, God wants to be my protector. But it will be a fight. And......this verse tells me that I am worth fighting for. That my affliction will be taken away. That my shackles will be ripped away. In time.
And anyone with any type of addiction.....whether physical or mental.....knows that addiction puts you in shackles. Shackles are oppressive. Shackles mean slavery.
There is a song I love whose lyrics have always made me cry. I never really knew why.
'You broke my chains of sin and shame and you covered me with grace.
You mend my life with your holy fire and you covered me with grace.
You are the hand that reaches out to save.
I am set free. I am set free. It is for freedom, that I am set free.'
I know that I am constantly in battle and the battle is mostly in my mind. This side of heaven I may never be free of the battle.
But I am set free.
And it is for freedom, that I have been set free.