I learned what a diet was and how to do it when I was three. I learned what fat was in my Ballet class as a four year old. And when I was five I was called that dreaded “F” word. For over fifteen years, I would never say a word. I would never tell anyone how I felt about my body or myself. And even when I admitted I had a problem it would still take years to admit how early that consciousness of food and my body started. I was ashamed. I was embarrassed. I was too scared to share how I felt so I put on a smile and hid behind a mask.
When I was a senior in high school I wrote a poem. It was shaped like a mirror and it discussed a girl who wore a smile which was actually a mask. While everyone saw her smile as a sweet gesture when she looked in the mirror she saw her smile as a mask but was terrified to take it off. I truly don’t think I realized I was writing about myself when I wrote that poem. I just knew “this girl’s story” needed to be told and so I told it. While I may not have fully realized it was about me I truly was desperate for someone to allow me to take my mask off, so desperate I wrote about it in my high school English class.
I believe we all wear masks, some are just more evident than others. Some make other people think we have perfect families, perfect jobs, raise perfect kids, have our faith all figured out. Just as beautiful masks at a masquerade, our daily masks paint beautiful pictures of well groomed lives. They make us seem superior and others inferior. We use them to hide ourselves. We use them to project what we wish our lives really looked liked. However, unlike masks you wear to a masquerade, these masks don’t typically come off at the end of the night or maybe ever. Some come off in the darkness behind locked closed doors and others seem to be permanently attached to our faces. These masks are dangerous, they isolate, they deceive, they threaten, and they are not reality.
When I started this blog I named it what I did for a reason, if I was going to write about leaving perfection and learning grace, I was going have to live it. I was going to have to daily experience it. If I was going to learn and live grace, that meant the mask was torn off, ripped to pieces, burned, and never to return. In all honesty, I thought it would be a lot easier than it has been. In reality, I never expected people to read what I wrote and even more relate. I just knew I was one girl who had a story and hoped that it would bring someone else comfort in their struggle. Two years later with countless readers and opportunities I am still here and I still have to continue to not dig up that mask. We all do. Taking off our masks, ripping them up, burning them, throwing them away, is only half the struggle because there is always a newer and shinier mask waiting for us to try on and claim its fake beauty. However, because of grace I am able to never return to my mask wearing days. Grace tells me that my past doesn’t matter. Grace tells me I am loved for who I am not what I have done. Grace teaches me that despite my flaws I am loved. My works don’t matter because grace paid the price.
Without grace I would still wear the mask and my life would look completely different. Grace set me free. It allowed me to take off my mask and never wear it again. Wearing a mask very quickly becomes life draining and joy stealing. When we are wearing masks we don’t experience life to the fullest because we are too busy pretending to be someone else. Without my mask I am myself. I am real and vulnerable and I experience life. Without my mask I am MK. By embracing grace I have the freedom to share my heart because everyone doesn’t matter only grace does.
Taking off the mask is terrifying but I have this dream that if we all took off our masks and were real than we would have less hatred, competition, addictions and fear. We would be real with one another because grace is bigger. Grace covers flaws and loves in spite of them. And even more if we took off our masks, shared our mess and struggles we would realize that others too are in the same boat. We would recognize that others have dealt with the same issues. We would find inspirations and partners to walk this journey of life with. We would find hope, joy, and grace. It starts with taking off the mask.
So today and always I choose grace over wearing my mask because grace allows me to be real. Perfection drained me but grace set me free. Taking off the mask means embracing messy but it means embracing life. So I challenge you this week to take off your mask and see what happens. See who understands your story, see who wants to be there, see who needs to hear your truth so they can take off their own mask. Fall into grace and run from perfection, it gets you nowhere but into a downward dying spiral.
With all my heart and love,