A few months back, I upgraded my iPhone … and, no, I don’t want to get into the android/iPhone debate. I have used iPhone for years, I know how it works, and it syncs to the other devices at home, so I stick to it. One of the big selling factors for me about my new upgrade was the facial recognition. I’d had the thumb print ID on my previous phone and I was excited that a mere flick towards my face could unlock my phone, and help me pay easily contactless in shops and it was all good…
What I hadn’t considered, was that I had upgraded in the middle of a pandemic and, weeks before, wearing masks in shops had become mandatory… Cue my frustration, when what was intended to be a help was now a hindrance because, guess what, my facial recognition does not work when my mask is on, which I often forget. So what happens is, I try it, it says facial recognition not recognised, I attempt to quickly whip my mask off for shot two, then usually it will ask to pay with pass word. So there I am left gaping at my mask, my phone, trying to hide my embarrassment to the cashier and people in queue.
Yesterday I was in a shop, and at my fluster of trying to get my mask off, the guy in the till beside nodded in sympathy and said facial? I replied, “yeah its a bit of a curse” and the guy said, “what you need to do is set it to recognise you with a mask on, then it will be easier.” I laughed at the tip, said my thanks, and went on my way.
Something really struck me in what he said. You should get it to recognise you with your mask on. As much as I absolutely think it is a great idea, I don’t think it would work. But the other thing was, how many people only recognise me with my mask on? My thought this time was not to my fancy leopard-print cloth mask, rather the multiple masks I so often hide behind from others.
Over the past lot of years, this is an area of my life that I have had to do a lot of work with God on.
Gee, I had a different mask for every situation, every friendship group, every new environment.
I had the fun mask, the thick skin mask, the perfect life mask, the pride mask, the intimidating mask, the fake smile mask, the got it all together mask, the it didn’t hurt mask, the nice mask, the rude mask, the scary mask, the perfect mother mask…
Not only is the constant need to change all these masks exhausting, but I was never being true to myself. I was never addressing hurt or healing from pain, I was never growing in my mistakes, I wasn’t being blessed in my busyness.
I have a very special friend, I would say probably one of the most genuine friendships I’ve ever encountered. Like she loved me proper good for years, we never even fought, we had our differences, but usually we would come to a mutual agreement that our friendship was more important than our difference. We have made some of the best memories together, and if I don’t see her for a week or a year, we just pick up where we left off.
I remember the night that friendship really started, we had been friends great friends for a few years at that point. But one evening in her kitchen, I made a heart breaking discovery about my past. Instantly the fun loving, could handle anything, always up for a laugh mask melted away as the tears started to roll. I’ll never forget her face, sitting staring at me in shock and disbelief. Her eyes questioned where was the girl with the thick skin who was always up for a laugh, the big girl who didn’t let people or things get her down, where was this tough girl now? I could see her eyes search for the masked me but it was no where to be found. She quickly accepted that, for the first time, she was seeing the real me, the vulnerable, hurt, most genuine version of me. She pulled me in for a hug and there one of the truest friendships I’ve ever know was formed.
Over the years of our friendship, that night has come up in conversation time and time again and she will say, “See, Terri I know you. I know the real you.” And she does, she knows my hard shell is mostly for show, she knows my heart, what upsets me and what truly makes me happy, and she knows that when I’m being loud and boisterous it’s usually hiding some insecurity below, and she can identify that and talk me through it.
When I first started going to church and making new friends, I found it really hard to be as vulnerable and real with the new people around me. I found me slipping on my various different masks to suit my different situations. But this time, I wasn’t only trying to kid other people, I was hiding behind these mask from God, which was a bit ridiculous given the fact that he is an all knowing, all seeing God who had been with me every hour of every day from the moment of conception.
“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”
Matthew 15:8 NLT
God could not work on the me I was prentending to be. I had to let go of the masks which were so very familiar and comfortable to me. It’s been a long process. Some masks I’ve given up freely, and never sought them out again, other masks, I feel God has had to peel out of my tight grip and, every so often, I find my self fighting not to start using a particular mask again, especially in areas of insecurity or fear.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Romans 12:2 NLT
But there is a lot of freedom to be found in being vulnerable, there is a lot God can work with and there is a lot he can bless.
I pray today, if any of this resonates with your story, you will summon up all the courage you can find and bravely ask God to take your masks from you!
“He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the Lord.”
Malachi 3:3 NLT
Because the truth is God Loves the REAL you, all of you. He designed you for a purpose, not the person you pretend to be.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen.”
Jeremiah 29:11-12 NLT