October 31, 2007
Removing My Mask
By Janet Perez Eckles, a "She Speaks" graduate
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8 (NIV)
"Yikes! You scared me," I screamed feigning fright. "Who’s that!" I peered down at the three-foot little person wearing a mask framed with wild hair colored in shades of black, purple, and pink. The features, distorted by a huge lumpy nose, droopy eyes and a mouth revealing crooked, jagged teeth, gave a new meaning to the word “ugly.”
A muffled, "Trick or treat" wafted from behind the mask. I chuckled as I dropped hard candy into the orange plastic pumpkin.
I have memories of my own boys dressed up in various costumes, dashing from house to house with their daddy trailing behind. I’d stay home to greet the neighborhood trick-or-treaters.
But now, years later, Halloween masks resemble those I myself try to slip on. They come in handy to cover the real me. So often in my life I’ve worn masks, perhaps not as horrid as the friendly trick-or-treater’s, but an effective masquerade nevertheless.
When people ask me how I lost my sight, I give the routine answer: "A disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa deteriorated my retina and took my sight."
A simple question followed by a simple answer. But when they ask about how I dealt with the unexpected tragedy, that’s a different story. I’m tempted to pull down the mask over my heart and give a bland answer.
"It was tough at first, but in time, I adjusted."
Underneath that mask, however, is a whole different script with the real answers: "I wanted to die, I hated my life, I wanted to give up, and wondered if my little boys would survive with a mommy who couldn’t see."
Then God’s Word nudged me to remove that mask and allow the glow of truth to shine through: “The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12:22). In obedience, I resolved that when asked a question, I’d spill information that reflected what truly stirred in my heart.
Here are the results: when my words are strung with honesty without omissions, deletions or embellishments, I can breathe easier. When the mask is off, the air is fresher and the view is clearer. When it comes to sharing my feelings or relating events in my life, I’ve developed a motto: Don’t omit the negative or squelch the positive.
Not long ago, a good friend called and asked about my writing. I started to blurt out that it was great, moving along fabulously, and that my agent is working on a possible submission to a publishing house. But then I gulped and remembered that masks are stuffy, binding and often ugly. Instead, I decided to rip the mask off to pull out the truth: though my agent is working for me, I’m furiously laboring on the first edit. Writing a novel is grueling, it’s demanding and at times, the work is so hard that it makes me wonder if I’m really supposed to be doing this.
Ah! The feeling of telling the real scenario with honesty is like opening the window to a stuffy room and letting the fresh spring breeze come in to caress your face.
As our little ones unwrap their candy, I also peel off what hinders honesty in my heart--misleading comments, half-truths or words hiding my real feelings. Once all this is discarded, the reward appears in the mirror: a shining reflection that sparkles with sincerity and truth—a sweet fragrance to the Lord.
Dear Lord, thank you for giving me your Word to follow. Grant me the guidance when I speak, when I formulate my thoughts and prepare my replies to all situations. Grant me the wisdom to speak with a truthful heart. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Before speaking, stop and measure your words—are they truthful, sincere and honest? If there’s a spot in your heart you’d rather hide from others, release it to the Lord and ask Him to grant you the courage to remove that mask.
Do I have the confidence in the Lord to know He accepts me as I am?
What keeps me from telling the complete truth? Am I hiding something for fear I might be judged?
Proverbs 25:24, "A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit."
Proverbs 2:7-8, "He holds victory in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones."
Proverbs 31 Ministries
Matthews, NC 28105