Halloween in our small town was so much fun.
Everyone met up at the top of our main street, and then at 4:15 PM (more or less), a fire engine started rolling down the hill, and the costume parade started! All along the parade route, people in lawn chairs, or people with the trunks of their vehicles open, or local businesses – handed out treats!
It was a fun and safe way to celebrate.
"The Hub" and I dressed up in our Western regalia. I still can't believe how often he got stopped for a photo – but, after all, he does look like a pretty authentic Virgil Earp!
Oh, the sights we saw!!
I continue to be amazed at the creativity of people.
Homemade costumes, store-bought costumes, barely-a-costume costumes – we saw it all! There were scads of cute, scary, creepy, pretty, clever, that's-funny, that's-disgusting, what-is-that, costumes.
I saw a dog dressed up like a squirrel.
I saw a squirrel dressed up like a dog – (not really, but wouldn't that be hysterical??)
Then, when we arrived in town, there was music and booths and food galore!
We went with our neighbors, who dressed up as 80's rockers. I joked that we were representing a century of fashion – all the way from 1880 to 1980.
After the parade, we went out to dinner.
Most of the employees were dressed up, including a very persistent Smurf who kept asking us if we were warm enough – (we were seated outside, and his upper body was covered with only blue paint!)
The strangest moment came when a guy dressed in a full-body skeleton leotard came up and asked us if we were having a good evening. A crazy conversation followed – including "The Hub" asking if he had any ribs for our dinner – before he scampered off down the street.
Gotta admit, I just love dressing up. It's fun pretending you're someone else for an evening.
But, it also got me thinking about the masks we wear in our *regular lives.*
This is the word from which we have derived the word "mask." The origin of this word is Middle French, from the Old Italian dialect mascarada – (from Old Italian maschera – mask). Its first known use was in 1587.
We're all familiar with the idea of a masquerade ball, a costume party. I suppose in some ways, our parade was just that sort of thing. But the word masquerade can also mean this:
A way of appearing or behaving that is not true or real.
This is what I'm talking about.
Not being who we are, not doing what we should, not saying what we mean.
Now, I'm not gonna lie (irony here), there are two instances when I think husbands can be allowed a little forgivable fibbing.
When answering these two questions:
1. Does this make me look fat?
2. Do you think that woman is prettier than I am?
Might I just say…powder keg.
These answers, though honest, might not be advisable:
1. You're beautiful no matter what size you are.
2. You're so pretty for your age.
Might I humbly suggest these alternative answers:
1. No. (Or better yet – "Of course not!")
2. No. (Or better yet – "What woman?")
But I digress.
Wearing masks, living a masquerade life.
We all do it.
The reasons why we do it are as diverse as we are ourselves.
Lack of self-esteem, fear of rejection, ulterior motives, jealousy, pride, stubbornness, shame, avoiding confrontation…this list could go on and on.
And you know what's on your list.
In the end, wearing masks all comes down to hiding.
I remember years ago a very wise person said to me that if the way I was living on the outside didn't match the person I was on the inside, then I'd never find good mental health.
He talked about the idea of congruence – (agreement or harmony; compatibility).
In math, two objects are congruent if they have the same dimensions and shape.
Might it also be said that we are living a congruent life, a real and authentic and transparent life, when the shape of what we do and say matches the shape of our hearts.
Alternatively, hiding behind masks alters the shape of who we are.
Jesus is the only person who has ever lived that is completely and actually and honestly HIMSELF.
With Him, what you see is what you get.
No hidden agenda, no ulterior motives, no scheming or conniving, nothing but the Truth.
Therefore, He is our example of what it means to live with integrity.
And it is only by allowing the Holy Spirit to completely infuse us that we can become more like Him.
You see, living without masks is easier said than done, and the challenge is often made more difficult because we might not even be aware of the masks we're wearing.
The human heart is deceitful.
We are skillful in the art of hiding from ourselves.
And if we're not careful, we can start believing the charade, the sham, the façade.
We can look oh-so-good-and-holy on the outside, while the inside is languishing in a self-made, whitewashed tomb.
Such contradictory living, such a lack of integrity, takes a huge toll.
There was a period of time when I was living an incongruent life.
And finding all sorts of creative ways to fool myself.
But, inside I was dying.
For if you belong to the Lord, masks become suffocating.
I finally changed when I got tired of smothering.
Halloween is fun, and I like dressing up as someone else.
But in my real life, I want to live life real.
I want no masks, no masquerade.
I want to be the real *me* – inside and out – and I want Jesus to shine through.
It's not an easy path.
It might require some really difficult work, as the Holy Spirit must be given full access to the innermost person.
He must explore and expose the hidden places.
He must uncover the secret and darkened corners.
He must remove the closet doors of deception, and throw open the windows of Truth.
His light might be blinding, and what He reveals may be painful to face.
But, it is the only way to have any hope of becoming someone different, someone better, someone whole.
Jesus wore no masks – (except maybe the veil of humanity that "masked" His glorious majesty. Remember that one time He glowed?!)
Jesus lived a life true to Himself, true to others, true to God.
This is what I want, don't you?
Lord, remove the masks that I wear to look better, to impress others, to get what I want, to deceive myself. Reveal to me the innermost parts of myself that You want to change, to transform. Shape me into the person that You created me to be. Teach me to live out the virtues and values that You have placed within me. Produce transparency and honesty and integrity in everything I do and say.
Make my outside match my inside – and make my inside match You.
When Someone loves you
for a long, long time,
REALLY loves you,
then you become
And once you are Real
you can't become
(Paraphrased from "The Velveteen Rabbit")
WE WEAR THE MASK
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties...
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise...
-- Paul Laurence Dunbar
"Lyrics of Lowly Life" (1896)
"Lyrics of Lowly Life" (1896)
"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:13, NIV)
"For your ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all your paths." (Proverbs 5:21, NIV)
"'...I am the one who searches out the thoughts and intentions of every person.'" (Revelation 2:23, NLT)
"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!" (Psalm 139:23, ESV)
"Examine me, O LORD, and try me; Test my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, And I have walked in Your truth."
(Psalm 26:2-3, NASB)
"You have tested us, O God; you have purified us like silver."
(Psalm 66:10, NLT)
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a right and steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit." (Psalm 51:10-12, AMP)
"'I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.'"
(Ezekiel 36:26, NLT)
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (Romans 12:2, ESV)
"...put off your old self [completely discard your former nature], which is being corrupted through deceitful desires, and be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God's image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation]."
(Ephesians 4:22-24, AMP)
"I know, my God, that you examine our hearts and rejoice when you find integrity there." (1 Chronicles 29:17, NLT)
"Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
Who may live on your holy mountain?
The one whose walk is blameless,
who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander,
who does no wrong to a neighbor,
and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person
but honors those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things
will never be shaken."
(Psalm 15, NIV)
Are you wearing any masks?
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