Recently, I read a book entitled Multiple Wounds by Alan Russell. It is a mystery book involving someone who uses alter egos to deal with life. One of the blurbs in the front of the book was this:
“Emperor’s clothes…we’re all wearing them. But some of us have piled on more imaginary layers than others.”
I began asking myself, “How many masks am I wearing to try to fool myself and others that I am functional and good enough when I know I am not?” And what if, when I remove all the masks, there really is no one there? I find that the very reason for our hiding seems most often rooted in toxic shame. We believe, like the emperor in the fairy tale, that we need to look or be a certain way in order to have respect from others and even from ourselves. Jesus teaches us that the more we cast off our masks and throw ourselves on Him, the more true honor we will have, for it is then that we have the Lamb’s honor.
Sometimes the person we fool the most often is ourselves. We hide our warts, our faults behind a curtain of false self-sufficiency. I always found it intriguing that self-sufficiency was the very sin that God punished in the Israelites when He twice allowed them to go into captivity. He called it idolatry.
In fact, when it comes right down to it, our fear goes back to the original sins of pride and rebellion. We want to be “good enough”. We think we have to do that on our own. We want to come to God based on our own merits. After all, have we not always been taught that if we work hard and perform well, we will be able to compete and win? But…Jesus is not asking us to compete. He is not asking us to help ourselves in terms of strength to carry on even one hour.
Scripture teaches us that every good thing comes down from the Father of Lights, and that to be clear conduits for His love, we need to be filled with Him and His light and love first. We give out of the overflow. We are to be filled until our cups run over with love so bright and strong that we would literally EXPLODE if we do not give out of the excess. I keep praying that I learn that lesson well, not only to avoid being prideful in the traditional sense, but to open myself to the wonderful possibility of being a true conduit for His love, light, healing, and power to the world around me.