For Real

“Wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door.”   Words from an old Beatles song.  I’m old enough to have listened to it when it first came out many, many, many years ago.  About the same time I started wearing makeup.  About the same time teenage acne made its unwelcome appearance on my young face.  About the same time my confidence and self image plummeted.   The face in the jar by the door became my routine, my shield against insecurity.  I really never used very much makeup, honestly just enough to feel comfortable with the girl in the mirror.  Not always a successful endeavor. 

Now the mirror greets me with a much different image.  Acne has been replaced by wrinkles and a myriad of odd looking features; a curious cornucopia of cosmetic casualties.  🙄 It’s okay, though.  I still use my face in a jar by the door.  And miracle serum.  And dry skin moisturizer.  And eye skin de-puffer stuff.   Just enough to feel comfortable with the old woman in the mirror.  Usually a successful endeavor.  I’m usually pretty comfortable in my aging skin after all these years.  As long as I have my mask on.

Because, you know…. that little teenage girl still abides inside this older woman.  

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Snapchat filters…. gotta love ’em.

Last November we hosted the annual family Thanksgiving at our home.    This year was especially nice because my oldest daughter and I got up early and took a walk at the local park.  Then we came back to the house and busily got everything set up for the meal.  It was a beautiful time with around 35 members of the family.  Good food, fun and games and just loving on each other.  

At the end of the day after everyone had left our home, I went to change into my jammies for the night.  So of course I washed my face to remove my makeup.  Except….. I surprisingly discovered I had forgotten to put any makeup on.  And when I looked in the mirror I realized I hadn’t even done anything with my hair after returning from our morning walk.  

I had spent the entire day happily entertaining, totally relaxed.  No one looked at me in horror, repulsed by my un-made up face and hair.  No one laughed at my appearance.  I daresay no one probably even noticed.

Caught with my mask off.   And survived.  For real.

Do we really need masks?  I thought I needed makeup.  Apparently I didn’t.

There’s a scarier mask than makeup.  I kind of think most Christians wear it at some point.  We want to appear to be “good enough” for Jesus, so we put on a face, a persona, an expected character, a cover.  Our “church faces”.  So that our frailty, our flaws, our failures are hidden.  Well, we tell ourselves they are hidden.

They aren’t hidden.  From Jesus.  Or anyone else.

Jesus talks about this mask deal in Matthew 23 when he is speaking to the Pharisees. You should read it when you get a chance.  The Pharisees were the “good church people”.  They did everything according to the law, but rejected the call to love and mercy and justice and faithfulness that Jesus was teaching. They followed the rules.  With hearts of stone, they rejected anyone who didn’t follow the rules.  

Jesus said they were “clean on the outside but dead on the inside”… whitewashed tombs

And He called them the word that makes all Christians cringe:  hypocrites.

I’ve been a Christian for a heap of years now.  I’ve done the church thing, worn the church face.  It’s dangerously easy to get trapped in a cycle: go to church, sing the songs, listen to the preacher, drop in your offering, maybe teach/attend a Sunday School class or serve on the church board or play the piano Sunday after Sunday after Sunday.  Sometimes my heart was in it; often it was obligation, duty, habit.  Performance based belief system.  Playing the part.  Oh so dangerous.   As Beth Moore said in something I read recently:  “to extend hands of service without hearts of love is virtually meaningless.”   Doing without being…. 

clean on the outside, but dead on the inside

I believe Jesus loved the Pharisees he was trying to reach.  All he wanted was their hearts.  All he wants is our hearts.  He loves us, he died for our sins, he wants to give us power to live the life He designed for us. He wants to live through us, in our hearts.  We are His church, His temple.  We. Are. The. Church…..with or without a building.  Not just Sunday.  24/7.  Wherever we are.  

Honestly, wearing the mask of hypocrisy is too much work!!  And meaningless!!!  There’s no way to be good enough to earn what Jesus freely gives!!  Seriously!!  We are human.  Period.  My goodness, all He wants is our hearts.  It’s just that simple!  When we give Jesus our hearts, He makes the changes.  He instills power  that we will never have on our own.  And then our behavior, our actions, our heart for others, our everyday lives naturally change and grow from the outflow of our heart that has been cleaned up and filled with the power of the Holy Spirit.   Jesus in our hearts.  Forgiven and perfectly loved.  Just as we are.  No mask required.  

Jesus showed me my  “church face” mask several years ago during a broken chapter in my life.  He loved me through that chapter, He is my living hope for all future chapters.  Brokenness was the key.   The unmasking has been a process and it started with brokenness.   Seeking His face with broken humility.  It’s still a process.  And will be until I fall into his arms for all eternity.  

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Then,  just when I thought my “face in the jar by the door” mask was under control, Thanksgiving happened. 🤣 The shock of realizing I had no makeup on.  Oh, the trauma.  😜🙄😳🤡  

Lord help me love the me You see.  The unmasked me.  Is that the key to loving others?  I think it may well be.  

You and I will always have flaws.  And it’s okay.  We will always be loved by the One who knows our flaws perfectly and still chooses us to be His hands and feet.  His church.  His holy temple.  His love will make us who we could never be in our own efforts.  

Have you picked a “word” for the year 2019?  Seems to be the popular thing this year.  My word for 2019 is authenticity.  No mask, no pretense. His…..for real.  

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