Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Dr. Julianna Slattery's book, Beyond the Masquerade: Unveiling the Authentic You, (Tyndale House Publishers, 2007).

If you’re in a hurry, you may not worry about leaving the house wearing a stained shirt or mismatched socks, without brushing your hair or putting on makeup. But what if other people could see beyond your physical appearance and look at your insecurities, pride, shame, or malicious thoughts?

Those are the kinds of things our society urges you to cover up. After a while, you create masks to hide your true thoughts and feelings and present an image you hope will prove your worth. The longer you wear your masks, the more comfortable they feel. But you can’t enjoy healthy relationships unless you remove the masks and show others who you really are.

Here’s how you can take off the masks you present to the world and be authentic:

Realize the price of the masks you wear. Understand that your masks prevent you from experiencing intimacy with God. Rather than trying to impress God, pursue an honest and intimate relationship with Him while relying on His strength. Know that your masks prevent you from pleasing God. Instead of vying for other people’s approval and praise, live to please God alone – no matter what others think of you. Shift your focus from establishing your identity on earth to becoming a disciple of Jesus.

Understand that your mask prevents you from experiencing intimacy in relationships. Rather than trying to prove your value to other people, seek to simply connect with them.

Ask deep questions. Don’t be afraid to honestly ask yourself deep questions about your existence, worth, emotions, thoughts, and purpose. Stop living according to the status quo and consider what changes you need to make to become more authentic with God, yourself, and other people.

Embrace the biblical view of self-esteem. Base your self-esteem on God’s love for you instead of just your own love for yourself, and on unchanging biblical truth rather than other people’s changing opinions of you in different circumstances.

Discover your purpose. Acknowledge that you can’t create value apart from God; He empowers you to do absolutely everything, and even your next breath is a gift from Him. So instead of trying to create your own feelings of self worth, discover the purposes God has for your life. Remember that God has made you in His own image, so you’re valuable for who you are, not what you do. Know that God loves you completely and unconditionally; you can neither earn nor lose His love.

Ask God to make His purposes for your life clear, and to help you fulfill them well. Expect that when you’re pursuing God’s purposes for you, you’ll be free of the need to achieve, impress, and compete.

Trade lies for the truth about yourself. Take an honest look at yourself in light of these biblical truths:

  • You’re sinful and are powerless to stop sinning on your own, so you need to rely on God’s power;
  • You’re not in control of your life, but God is;
  • The world doesn’t revolve around you, and you’re one small part in God’s great story;
  • All your strengths are from God, so you can’t take credit for them and should use them to serve and glorify God; and
  • Your weaknesses are greater than your strengths, because your weaknesses cause you to depend on God’s greater power.

Instead of just trying to feel good about yourself, seek to experience the reality of God’s goodness to you. Let the awareness of your brokenness lead you to the wholeness you can only find in Christ.