It wasn’t until I was in my late 20’s that I would leave my house without wearing makeup and doing my hair. I even remember going on a family vacation to a remote cabin in WV when I was around 16 and it being a big deal that I decided not wear makeup while we were there. I have a very specific memory of walking out onto the back porch as the sun hit my face and wondering when was the last time that the skin on my face had been directly exposed to sunlight. It was pretty extreme. Some people around me today may desperately wish I’d return to those habits, but I personally enjoy taking my son to school in a pair of sweats with mascara smudged on my face and my hair in a bun on top of my head. It builds character.
It was a real pain to keep that up. I couldn’t ever just hop up and go somewhere on the spur of the moment…I’d need at least 20 minutes to get ready for wherever I went. On bad hair days (days when I couldn’t get my bangs to their full height of 8 inches) or days when I’d go to school and realize that I’d forgotten to put on my eyeliner or to put in my earrings, I would feel awkward and uncomfortable all day. And gym class was the worst. For an entire semester, I dreaded school because I had gym first period. I’d get all sweaty and then not have time after class to get myself back together the way that I would like, so I would look for any excuse to miss class and would even sometimes forge notes from my mom to the gym teacher excusing me from participating.
Now that I look back at the way I was, I can see how extreme that behavior was and how kind of sad and pathetic it was as well. To be so desperate to maintain a certain image solely to impress other people takes up a lot of mental energy and effort.
As exhausting as that was, I guarantee you that it is more exhausting to try and keep up appearances emotionally and mentally. And simply from the e-mails that I have been receiving from women (and men) regarding this blog, I know it’s true for most of us. Our body issues, our past hurts and scars, our fears, things that we are sad about, things that we are embarrassed about, things that we are angry over…all of these things are part of who we are and they are all things that we try to hide from other people so they don’t think we are nutso or in some way, a lesser person.
But let me tell you this…there is real freedom in just getting the truth out there. Is your worst fear telling someone that you weight 370 pounds? Well just get it out there and then you have one less fear to worry about. Is your worst fear letting people know that you have a drinking problem? Is it that you struggle with anxiety or depression? Or is your worst fear that people find out that your marriage is not perfect, your kids misbehave, your house is a wreck, or that you don’t know if you have enough money to pay next month’s bills, or have enough gas to get to where you need to go? I’m telling you…as someone once said - make your mess your ministry. Get it out there and watch as people with similar issues start coming out of the woodwork. You will bless yourself and you will bless other people.
And the irony in the whole deal is that by hiding our faults in order to make people like us more, we are actually hindering opportunities to develop new bonds with people. Everyone wants to know that it’s ok to not be perfect…and when someone puts themselves out there and admits it, we are drawn to them.
Today just try to be real. I guarantee you it is a whole lot easier to be open and honest than it is to try and make sure that everywhere you go, you didn’t forget to put on your mask.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.” Romans 3:23
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” James 5:16