Removing Masks

When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability…to be alive is to be vulnerable. –Madeleine L’Engle

It’s scary being exposed. You’re afraid that when you remove the mask that those close to you will run away. Yet, we are created to be relational beings, to bare our souls to others, to feel and be accepted. So, we long for an authentic, safe place that we can become vulnerable in. The tragedy is that many never find this place for very real reasons. The irony is that those real reasons lead us to not be real.

One reason is because we live in a fallen world. Sin has corrupted God’s design and now we are surrounded by people full of a gamut of self-issues (selfishness, fear, pride, greed, hate, lust, etc.). How is it even possible to trust broken people?

Another contributor is a fear to be real with ourselves. Can you take your mask off and look at yourself in the mirror? There is nothing more terrifying than taking an honest inward look and seeing your own brokenness. To avoid this, we look for distractions, things to occupy our attention so we don’t have to gaze upon who we really are. If it’s so hard to be vulnerable inwardly, how is it possible to be vulnerable to others?

Enter hope. It is in our desperation for acceptance that we intersect with our Creator God who loves us and accepts us for who we are and in spite of what we’ve done or experienced. One of my favorite stories to read my kids is the story of a fictional character named Punchinello. This little fellow is a Wemmick, a group of wooden people constantly searching for happiness. The Wemmicks have a practice of placing stars on each other for admirable qualities, and dots on those with undesirable ones. Punchinello has no talents, no good looks, and, therefore, has been covered with dots. Sometimes, he even gets dots for having dots! One day, he encounters a Wemmick without any stars or dots. Others have tried to place some on her, either a star because she has no dots or a dot because she has no stars, but neither stick to her. This fascinates Punchinello, so he seeks her out and asks what makes her different. She tells him it’s because she takes daily visits Eli, the carpenter that created the Wemmicks. After thinking about this (and with much encouragement from his new friend) Punchinello decides to visit Eli. It’s scary entering the carpenter’s shop because everything is ginormous. Eli warmly welcomes Punchinello into the shop and asks about the purpose of his visit. “I want to know what is different about her. Like, why don’t the stars and dots stick to her?” Eli smiles and begins to tell Punchinello it is because she has discovered that the only opinion that truly matters to her is that of Eli’s, her creator. He tells Punchinello that the same can be for him if he will only choose to visit Eli regularly and begin to place value only in Eli’s opinion. As Punchinello leaves the shop that evening, a dot drops to the floor.

It’s a simple story with a powerful lesson for us. Are you covered with dots? Are you obsessed with gaining the stars of approval from others? Did you know that you have a Creator that cares for you deeply, accepts you for who you are, and wants to repair your broken life? I’ve been at that point where I was concerned with what others thought of me. It wrecked me because I was trying to find acceptance where acceptance would never be found. But then I discovered a place where I can be vulnerable because my vulnerability is not only already known, it’s received with the most caring and gentle hands imaginable. Sure, I still stumble back into the trap of man’s approval. But he is always faithful to scoop me up like a loving father caring for his hurting and fearful child.

Are you tired of hiding? A huge part of RESOLE is a spiritual connection with our Creator. It’s looking past the eyes of the onlookers in our lives, past the mirror that displays our ugliness, and choosing to look to the One who sees our vulnerabilities and says “Don’t be afraid. I am here with you.” RESOLE is just another empty self-improvement process or methodology that will never enact any lasting change without an honest acceptance that we are incapable of changing ourselves. Only God can bring this kind of transformation.

I realize that I likely lost some readers with talking about God, but let me ask you something. Are you done with trying to find real, genuine love and acceptance in the things of this world? Then what do you have to lose? It starts simply by acknowledging that you are powerless to change your situation and that you need the help of God, the One and ONLY higher power, Creator of all things. Allow Him to take over by laying it all down before Him. And then, you’ll find that the dots will begin to fall off your tired and weary soul.


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