letting go of the masks

I still remember it like it was just the other day and yet, it was years ago. I was a young mom, with just my three little girls {now, I’m the mom to seven — we’ve added four boys}, and me walking into a new church, into a new women’s Bible study, into a room full of women. Me from Minnesota, living in California, and feeling very much vulnerable.

I stood in the corner, surveyed the room, looked at all the beautiful women, and thought to myself how I really probably should have just stayed home today. This was too hard. At that moment, a kind man who was helping coordinate gestured me to a table. The one table, in my brief surveying glance of the room, that I had decided that I didn’t want to sit at. I made judgements — they all looked too good, had so much money, and I for sure wouldn’t fit in.

I shuffled to my chair, and mumbled my quick hello. Well, let me tell you, when you sit at a table in Southern California and you speak with your Minnesotan accent {dontcha know} you do get noticed. So I started to share, just a bit about me. Surface stuff. But really, I hid. Behind a mask. I was too afraid to let them know about me, or my life, or my faith, or my journey. Week after week after week it was the same.

Until one day, one day when my heart was so heavy, one day when I cried.

I could no longer carry that mask of having everything together. The mask came dropping down, to the floor and shattered in front of all these women in a thousand pieces. Tears rolled down my face and sobs ensued. And those women, the women at my table put down their masks as well. One after another after another. I remember them gathering around and then gathering me in their arms. I remember one of them holding my hand, and another helping with my children.

I was real. And in that moment of realness it gave permission for those sitting at my table in the far left corner of the sanctuary to be real. From that day on, I remember that there were no more masks in that small group. Behind each of those women, those friends of mine, there was a story. And often that story was of a life that really wasn’t perfect. But, we didn’t care. We were real.

We cared more about the heart than having a life that was perfectly put together.

So, my friends, can I challenge you to let go of those masks? Just for a bit? When we can be real, we can grow and encourage one another. It has been nine years since that day when I walked in that church of women. That table, that group of women changed me — they pushed in me a desire to be authentic, and real, and to let go of those masks that us women love to carry. Letting go brings freedom.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7


9 Responses to letting go of the masks
  1. (Must read with a deep southern accent. We’re not slow, just slow-talking : ) I couldn’t hide if I wanted to, lol. Sometimes I wish I could. I would love to be the “calm and collected” one. But that is just not who I am. I am living this life in very vivid color! I talk too much anyway, but then when I’m nervous I really overdo it, which leads to my sticking my foot in my mouth. I crack myself up! You just got to laugh, lol. Thanks for sharing this wonderful post!

    • Rachel
      February 20, 2012 | 1:54 pm

      Thank you, Melinda, for an encouraging comment. I chuckled when I read your intro — and how to read it in a deep southern accent. I get that, except mine would be with that Minnesootan accent that I have. I love that you live life in VIVID color. You keep doing that. Be blessed!

  2. Our Muddy Boots
    February 19, 2012 | 9:20 am

    One of the most profound experiences is when a group of people “remove their masks” unexpectedly and together. The connection amongst the group at that moment is powerful, long lasting and creates change.

    Thank you for sharing. Both the thoughts and the challenge.

    • Rachel
      February 20, 2012 | 1:55 pm

      Absolutely correct. Three was a profound shift in that group of women. Thanks for your kind comment. Blessings!

  3. tanya
    February 19, 2012 | 2:57 pm

    oh rachel, such a sacred gift that your souls exchanged that day. the gift of your trust. and with it, the freedom to risk baring your fragile hearts to one another — and to have them welcomed into a place of safety and nurture. such an act of worship, rachel. because ultimately, you were entrusting your soul to our Father’s loving care.

    aside from the most powerful message of the cross, there is no other greater passion in my life than transparency. because it’s one that so beautifully points to the cross! transparency reminds us that we are, in fact, weak. but that He is strong. that we are needy. but He is sufficient. and that His power is made gloriously perfect in our most vulnerable of moments.

    thank you so much for sharing your heart, rachel.

    your fellow mask tosser,

    • Rachel
      February 20, 2012 | 1:56 pm

      Tanya, thank you for joining me in tossing the mask. I have learned that those masks sneak up so subtly in my life and that I must be constantly aware and awake to my demeanor and if I’m walking carrying a mask around with me.
      Thank you for your reminder — pointing to the cross.
      Blessed by your words and encouragement.

      • tanya
        February 20, 2012 | 4:22 pm

        well i was certainly blessed by your liberating words of truth, so i’m thankful if the Lord used me back atcha!

        and by the way, i didn’t think to mention that i wrote a call to raw authenticity as well several months ago, so i thought i’d share it with you as a virtual hug for your own journey in transparency:

        and i hope you don’t mind — i’d like to share this piece with my blog community on facebook because i know they’ll appreciate it, too! (you’ll see it at http://www.facebook.com/truthinweakness — likely later this evening.)

        thanks again, precious mask tosser!
        – tanya

  4. Barbie
    February 20, 2012 | 12:51 pm

    Rachel, this post was so timely for me. I am on staff at my church. And I know I wear masks, for fear of what the pastoral staff might think when I tell them what I really struggle with. I do not feel I’ve allowed the Lord to remove the masks yet. But I feel it’s something He wants ME to do, with His help. I know my co-workers love me, no matter what. I am tired of listening to the lies of the enemy that would say otherwise.

    • Rachel
      February 20, 2012 | 1:57 pm

      AMEN, Barbie, AMEN. I think the thing is that there is a difference between wearing masks and having the discernment of when to share and what to share. I will pray that you know which masks need to be removed and when and how. But, I will also pray for your heart and for the peace that only the Lord can give. Blessed to serve on this 5Minutes for Faith team with you. Love ya. Rachel