Sometimes masking is coping, and some methods of coping are better than others.
The beauty of masking is that you can usually do and say all the "right" things, even if you aren't feeling them.
The pain of masking is that your real feelings end up strangling you.
Sometimes when people give me accolades, my first inner reaction sounds a little like this: "... if only you knew ... you might not say that."
I've learned that quote to be a sneaky lie of the enemy, though. A lie meant to keep me in hiding. Because truth be told, there is such a thing as unconditional love - and even though people who possess it are few and far between, I do have some friends who have proven the test of my honesty and have lived to love me another day.
And more than that - I have known the depth of a different kind of love. The love of A Heavenly Father.
"So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son." -John 1:14
And when Jesus revealed the love of the Father, every being at once knew his own identity - I'm not Him, but loved by Him. It is when we accept this with open hands that we are made ready to become that which He made us to be from the beginning.
"The acceptance of self does not mean to be resigned to the status quo. On the contrary, the more fully we accept ourselves, the more successfully we begin to grow. Love is a far better stimulus than threat or pressure. ... When we accept ourselves for what we are, we decrease our hunger for power or the acceptance of others because our self-intimacy reinforces our inner sense of security. We are no longer fear criticism because we accept the reality of our human limitations. ... simply being true to ourselves brings lasting peace." - Brennan Manning (Ragamuffin Gospel)
One of my greatest joys is loving people and being loved in return. I know this is most genuine with the people who actually know me, and know me well ... right down to the dirt. The irony is that sometimes once they've seen the dirt, they love me even more. And the same goes with the way I love them even more after they've divulged some skeletons from the back of their closet as well.
And isn't that like our Lord? One of the very most amazing and winsome qualities He retains is His knowing. He knows me. Every move. Every breath. Every word. Every thought ... And He still loves me. I'm astounded. I'm in love with Him - for loving me after knowing me that well. Even for dying a brutal death for me in His knowing. This song says it all for me. I can't stop singing it. All day long.
"You know what I am going to say
even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!"
- Psalm 139:4-7 (NLT)
Lord, I'm so glad You know me, every part. Sometimes that feels uncomfortable because I'd like to hide the worst from you and show you just the best. But, as always, Your ways are higher than mine. And even in Your knowing, Your love for me stays the same adoration for my soul You've always held - from the beginning, and You'll never forsake forever. Once again, Father I am so amazed. It's too deep to comprehend, but I'm trying. Your love is glorious. Show me Your glory.