A Time to Throw Off Masks and Surrender Shields

For much of my life, I felt forgettable.

Growing up, I moved around a lot. I got used to short attachments, to the idea of fresh starts, to the notion that I faded easily from the minds of those I had become so attached to. I never forgot them. But as soon as I left, something in me would whisper “You don’t matter anymore. Not where you were. You are irrelevant.”

I carried those whispers like tattoos on my heart for years, and I didn’t even realize it.

Being raised by a single mother in church played a part. She was a good mom, but I didn’t fit in with the other, more “proper” families. I didn’t come from good church stock. Oh, how I tried to blend. But when Christian parents make play dates for their kids, they’re careful about it. I can see now, that they were mostly well intentioned or unaware of my pain. They weren’t actively trying to hurt me, or my mother.

People mostly don’t realize the damage they can cause by their inaction, because they aren’t looking for it. But it can slice through someone’s skin just as deeply.

In the meantime, I found solace in the idea that my smallness and invisibility have become my comfort zone. It has felt both safe and unsettling, the idea that I slip through the minds of others as easily as I arrive.

But there’s a flip side.

I have hurt people. I have broken humans, cut them with my words and discarded their value with my actions. I have been a mediocre friend at times, a shell of a mother or wife at times. Haven’t most of us?

My own deepest hurts have transformed themselves into both a weapon to wield and a mask to hide behind.

Hurt people, hurt people. That’s what they say.

There is a part of me that desperately wants to know and be known. I want leave imprints on hearts. I want them to see Jesus and His love when they see me. I want to share my heart and His heart. I crave depth and intimacy and intensity.

Sometimes I have felt like I’m too much. The thought of rejection still leaves me frozen at times. My thoughts can be constant and overwhelming. I’ve created the idea that it’s not fair to impose a giant ball of me onto someone else. If people knew all of the things, it would overtake them and damage them. Maybe that’s arrogant of me. I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know:

I want to create beauty more than I want to be invisible. My God is good, and He is kind. And I would rather shout that from rooftops than hide in basements, shaking.

I want to be a peacemaker. And that means speaking up and joining in. It means having the hope that things will be beautiful and that people can change. It means having the courage to say something and do something about injustice. And God has a lot to say about injustice.

Peacemaking looks like troublemaking to those who prefer order over humanity. It looks messy and raw and real. It isn’t reckless: it speaks in wisdom. But it speaks.

The truth is that I might be too much. There will likely be people who wrinkle their noses at my thoughts and shake their heads at my beliefs. Some would say that those aren’t my people. I used to think that. But what if maybe they ARE my people, and I am theirs, and we just don’t know it?

Love God, and love others. All the others.

I choose to love, to care for. And for now, on this journey, that looks like giving and opening up. It’s time for the mask, the shield, to go.

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