Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Masquerade * Emotional Health Series

Pretend. 

1. to cause or attempt to cause {what is not so} to seem so: 
to pretend illness; to pretend that nothing is wrong.

2. to appear falsely, as to deceive;
feign: to pretend to go to sleep.

3. to make believe.

Pretending can be great fun!  Like making believe that you're asleep when you're really wide awake.

Notice that the old lady is quite an accomplished pretender!  

Six years ago, these grandchildren found it difficult in pulling the whole charade off.  And the younger the child, the harder it was to fake it.  But sooner or later they got the hang of donning the requisite mask.

Kind of like far too many of us have done along the way. 








In real life, pretending is not all that entertaining.  It works against us.  Those 'fake happy' or 'pious Christian' or 'I've-got-it-all-together' masks are far from the reality we're living ... like all is well when nothing could be farther from the truth.  When our default mode involves donning a false persona, we lapse into some kind of odd, exhausting role play game where we expend our energy in passing ourselves off as someone we're not.

Christians are quite prone to this whole masquerade thing.  I've even heard some speak with great pride in their expertise.

In the process, we become incredibly inauthentic instead of genuinely real and transparent.  Over time, the results yield a terribly damaging toll.  An unsettling amount of emotional unrest creeps in because we're not living in integrity with what we proclaim we believe, value, and prize.  A spiritual numbness sets in ... with emotional and physical ailments not far behind as anxiety and depression slowly weave their way into our beings.

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Along the way, many of us had to pretend that all was well.  It was a tool for survival.  For coping.

But there comes a time when we begin to yearn for something more.  We start to outgrow the selection of masks we've accumulated along the way.  Like a pair of pants that just doesn't fit any more, living with all the smoke and mirrors grows uncomfortable and unsettling because we're not experiencing the peace, freedom, and joy we thought would be ours.

The faith-fueled values we claim and the daily choices we're making aren't one and the same.

We long to be free from the constraints that are holding us hostage.  A great yearning for freedom rises up within our souls.  Our deepest desire is not to hide anymore even as we begin to notice a relentless thirst for emotional healing.  Truth is we're craving deep soul transformation ... to become someone who's genuine and authentic, whole and free.

An all-in Christ follower who's weary of self-protection and is ready to experience healing in every way that counts.

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I love that Jesus specializes in inviting us to come to Him as we truly are.  To approach Him with no phony pretense or futile playacting.  He gently beckons us closer because He knows that we are weary and burdened with all our woundedness, our drama, our stuff, our shame, our pain, our sin.  He knows that our deepest longing is to find rest for our souls {Matthew 11:28-29}.

Perhaps the most important question He asks, then and now, is this one right here:

'Do you want to get well?' {John 5:6}.



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on Wednesday

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48 comments:

  1. Hi Linda! That last question just hit me between the eyes...Do I want to be well? Because if I do, I'd have to change something.
    We do fall in love with the way 'its always been', and theres no change in that.
    How did you keep your eyes closed with all those little gigglers next to you? I LOVE that photo :)
    Lord, help us unmask and look to you!
    Ceil

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    1. You hit the nail on the head, Ceil ... sometimes it's gotten too comfortable 'as is' even if we know it's not healthy and is most likely killing us in some way.

      It's like refusing to part with an old, faded, ripped sweatshirt because it's become like a second skin ... even if it IS ugly and unappealing.

      I really love that you brought that point up because I think it's an essential one.

      That's why I love talking things over after I hit the publish button, ya' know?

      ;-}

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  2. This is so true, Linda! And your words had me gripped from beginning to end. Thank yo!

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    1. I'm always glad to hear when something hits home for someone. Jandi, thanks!

      ;-}

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  3. I love the photos, and you are definitely the best at pretending to sleep! I agree, wearing a mask is not healthy- we need to learn to be real with God and to find others we can be real with too.
    PS- I've nominated you for a blogger award. You can find details on my post today if you'd like to take part, but absolutely no pressure- I just want to let you know that I appreciate you!

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    1. Oh yeah, I can pretend with the best of them!

      ;-{

      And thanks for the award! I can't participate right now because of this series, but I sure do appreciate the invite!

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  4. "Free" is the key word, isn't it, Linda?! Such freedom in being real. Freedom for ourselves, but also freedom for others. When we're real, we create an environment around us where others feel safe in their "real," too. --- What sweetie pies those grandbabies are. Six years can make such a difference in children's lives, can't it? I bet they've grown so much. :)

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    1. Mmmm ... maybe we we'll never fully grasp how chained we are until we've finally been set free!

      For sure, there's a 'trickle down' effect to our healing, isn't there, Brenda.

      Superb observation ...

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  5. Cute pictures! Thanks for sharing them.

    What I find kind of frustrating is that some folks think I'm pretending when I'm not. I'm supposed to be depressed and scared and wanting to curl up in a foetal position on the sofa and be held whilst I cry my heart out. John Wayne is dead.

    I'm pretending, they say, and one day I will fall apart, and my heart will be so wounded that I...

    OK, I can't write any more of this. I'm laughing too hard. Death comes to everyone, and it's often attended by pain, and this wee has been a personal best for pain, in my life. Or maybe personal worst.

    But so what? I don't resent it, I'm not afraid of it, and while there's life, there's still the opportunity to do something even if physical circumstances proscribes most action.

    Don't need a group hug, don't need a safe space, don't need to meet my inner child. I could use a cigar, though.

    There's an old saying, long out of favour - "Shut up, and die like a man." Well, that's exactly what I intend to do. I intend to keep the wisecracks going to the end, and when I'm blindfolded and given a last cigarette, I'll take a drag and blow the smoke back into my executioner's face.

    And I shall be dropped off in the beery part of heaven, where even though we may not remember the words we'll be singing the hymns with gusto, smashing out pint-mugs (unbreakable, to be sure) together to keep the rhythm.

    No need to pretend. I'm at peace with who I am, even if no one else is.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2017/11/your-dying-spouse-403-end-of-despair-fmf.html

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    1. Now THIS is funny, Andrew -->'Don't need a group hug, don't need a safe space, don't need to meet my inner child'

      ;-}

      Along the way you've discovered what you need, what's helpful for you, what doesn't work a bit. Too many of us want to rescue, fix, and save that which is not broken.

      We each handle diagnoses, illnesses, heartbreak, and all kinds of life challenges in our own individual ways. The key is trusting God in the process, leaning on Him.

      And that you've showed us how to do.

      For which, by the way, we are ever grateful ...

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  6. I've always loved that one single verse, question and situation that Jesus invited us into as well. We need to answer it every time we are tempted to be someone we are not. Yes! I want to get well and that means being truthful about my wounds and sins, Linda. I've got a lot of them, so I am constantly on Jesus' operating table! ;-) Love your words today, my friend! Oh, and I love the shot of the eye-squinting cutie next to you, though every one of those grandkids there with you are cuties in their own right! And might I add, you rock as a grandma!

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    1. '... constantly on Jesus' operating table.' Ain't that the truth, Beth!

      And the wonderful grace is He never tires of welcoming us, mending us, teaching us, giving us a push ahead.

      No wonder we adore Him!

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  7. The pictures are adorable....love their pretending faces.
    I've read that story from the bible but a few years ago heard a message that focused on that question - do you want to be healed? The answer sounds obvious but our actions tell the truth. That question still impacts me today.

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    1. Yeah, for sure, 'by their fruit you'll know them.'

      Talk is cheap ... most particularly in Christian circles. We are certainly biblically educated far beyond our everyday obedience.

      Sadly, it often takes a crash-and-burn scenario for us to finally respond to His wake up calls.

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  8. Amen, Linda! Halloween is over - let us take off the masks and live authentically for Christ. Yes, I do want to be made well.
    And those photos are cuteness overload!
    Blessings!

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    1. They are cute, aren't they? The oldest is now in high school.

      Where did the years go?

      These are some of my favorite pictures of the oldest four. God is so good ...

      ;-}

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  9. You are so on target, my friend! A majority of my clients when I was in practice were dealing with the effects of too many masks for too long. The sad part is that Christians have too often been wounded by being authentic with someone they thought would be safe and that causes the habit to become solidified in their minds. A pet peeve of mine is how judgmental and self-righteous and frankly, religiously phony so many in the body can be. Who are any of us to condemn someone who is His when He has not??? Love and hugs as always!💕

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    1. You've nailed it over and over again, Pam.

      Too many masks, too many unsafe environments, too many wounds from pious know-it-alls.

      Too much judgementalism, self-righteousness, and phoniness.

      God must weep with it all.

      The healthiest community I was ever part of was the years I co-led Celebrate Recovery. Talk about honest, straight-shooting, humble, sanctified brothers and sisters. When they spoke, wisdom came forward. When they worshiped, the gates of heaven swung wide open.

      Gosh, I miss them all ...

      http://www.celebraterecovery.com/

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  10. You're so right in what you say. This is a great post, Linda.

    But then, isn't pretence part of life really? And sometimes essential too. Take courting couples for instance - at the first and subsequent meetings we often put forwards our best side and pretend we are better than we really are. Most meetings through dating agencies have their pretence and exaggerations in the descriptions. I remember a girl-friend telling me I am not as tall as described on the dating website. I told her I was still far away.

    Also job interviews and CVs have a lot of pretence and exaggerations.

    I have found that in business, often, I had to pretend that I was more confident than I really was. If I portrayed no confidence in myself, how could others have confidence in me.

    Sadly, this world is full of pretence and smoke and mirrors. Few of us are as we really are.

    God bless.

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    1. I am most certainly grateful that my dating years are behind me {my husband lived half a continent away for awhile and phone calls were 10 cents a minute after 5 pm.}

      And dating 'agencies'? Lord, have mercy. That would have been a disaster. I've seen what some of my single friends and clients have gone through on those sites.

      Although, my nephew met a wonderful woman online and she is an absolute treasure, a lovely addition to our family.

      Go figure, huh?

      ;-}

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  11. I'm a pretender from way back. It was definitely the best coping skill for me since I had to deal with an alcoholic father...

    The funny thing was that when dad stopped drinking and life grew better it was hard to give up pretending - I'd gotten so very good at it!

    I think learning to live in the Word was the best antidote to pretending. Getting to know the Lord in a personal way made those wanna-be pretending scenarios less satisfying.

    I love those pics of you and your grandkids pretending. Gotta say - you win the prize for best pretender. That one in the middle? He gets Mr. Congeniality!

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    1. Jerralea, thank you.

      Thank you for being courageous enough to share just a glimpse of your story. I know it will ring true for many who read your tender and very wise words.

      You, my friend, are a wounded healer. Your vulnerability and willingness to share offer a hope ... a much needed grace.

      Blessings to you, girl.

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  12. Oh yes I'm the great pretender
    Pretending I'm doing well
    My need is such I pretend too much
    I'm lonely but no one can tell
    Oh yes I'm the great pretender (ooh ooh)
    Adrift in a world of my own (ooh ooh)
    I play the game but to my real shame
    You've left me to dream all alone
    Too real is this feeling of make believe
    Too real when I feel what my heart can't conceal
    Ooh ooh yes I'm the great pretender (ooh ooh)
    Just laughing and gay like a clown (ooh ooh)
    I seem to be what I'm not (you see)
    I'm wearing my heart like a crown
    Pretending that you're still around
    ( I was reminded of the words to an old song that was popular when I was young) We tend to think pretending will keep the hurt away when in fact it brings it into the inner circle of our life. My mind went back to a few times I pretended to be ok when I was dripping with emotional pain. Those close to me read me well, they said my eyes told the story better then my lips. One of the things I like about getting older is the need to pretend. You either accept me the way I am or find another friend. It's hard work to pretend to be someone I am not, too hard. Great post sister, great post.

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    1. Dear Betty ~ You've painted a profound picture with your words - 'dripping with emotional pain' ... 'my eyes told the story better than my lips.'

      Yes, yes. So many of us have been there, have done that.

      I think you're really on to something when you say that as we get older we seem to have less time and energy for pretending. Agreed. We seem to be more prone {but not always!} to accept the skin we're in, simply because it's too much energy to do otherwise.

      You've shared much wisdom in a few lines today. I'm grateful you're here ...

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  13. Your lesson is well-taken, but those pictures are worth the visit too! :) Love this, Linda.

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  14. These photos give me heart smiles, Linda. :) Thank you! I'm still a work in progress in leaving off the mask. I'm working at being more authentic and being honest and open with my feelings, but I'm not assertive enough when I'm face-to-face with someone who doesn't like how I feel. I would rather keep quiet than to offend them or hurt them. I LOVE this, too! - "I love that Jesus specializes in inviting us to come to Him as we truly are. To approach Him with no phony pretense or futile playacting. He gently beckons us closer because He knows that we are weary and burdened with all our woundedness, our drama, our stuff, our shame, our pain, our sin. He knows that our deepest longing is to find rest for our souls." Love and hugs to you!

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    1. You're so right, friend ... we're ALL still works in progress. You bring up a really interesting point that when we set new boundaries or feel safe enough to reveal the 'updated' version of who we've become, people don't always burst into applause, do they!

      They liked the 'old' version because it worked for them, but God is calling us to something holier, healthier, and wiser.

      Trudy, thanks for your insight. Beautiful!

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  15. Strip off the mask to only pick it up again--whenever I feel vulnerable, defeated, intimidated. Enjoying this series, My Friend. Food for thought!
    Blessings!

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    1. Lulu ~ I L O V E that you've clearly named those three universal reasons why we pick up the masks yet one more time - vulnerable, defeated, intimidated.

      Profound, wise, and spot on you are ...

      Thanks for adding to the mix here tonight, friend!

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  16. Oh, Linda. This is a great post. First off, I love the pictures of you all in the bed. So adorable. :) Last year, my one word for the year as AUTHENTIC. God had been working with me for awhile about taking off the masks my insecurities liked to put on. But last year . . . He took me deeper into my emotions. He challenged me to be real with Him and those around me. And He showed me some of the reasons why I wore masks. I felt naked. But there is freedom in walking free of masks. And the view is much clearer too.

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    1. Great point how God works with us for awhile ... He is patient, He is kind, He is understanding. He knows these kind of heart-level changes can be oh so difficult.

      The word 'naked' is very apt and telling, isn't it ...

      I'm grateful you've given us a peek into your story, Jeanne. Your writing bears witness to His work in your life.

      Praising Him!

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  17. This is an area that I have learned to perfect. I became an expert at wearing the mask to the point that I was very believable. However, the hard work of what I'm doing now is breaking down the masks that I have become comfortable wearing.

    I am seeking the transformation so my inside matches my outside. It is hard work but worth it because God is with me. Great series and one that is needed.

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    1. Dear Mary, you're so right. This is hard work, it doesn't come easily, or quickly. I'm thinking it's like peeling an onion.

      As soon as we get one layer off, another remains. And another.

      And there are tears in the process.

      Thanks for going the long haul with me, friend ...

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  18. Hi Linda,
    I think our comments were crossing over the worldwide web as I was reading your words as you were reading mine! (I love it when that happens! :)) First, I love the photos of you and the kids -- how adorable! I'm hoping you have these framed somewhere?!

    How true your words are about the masks we wear because of our discomfort about who we are underneath, but God loves us -- he enjoys us -- as we are, ever aspiring to be more like him! I'm so glad he invites us to him, aren't you!? xoxo

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    1. That's serendipitous!

      ;-}

      Maybe someday we'll actually get to spend time in person, Valerie ... I can imagine a lunch overlooking a lovely vista, comparing notes, stories, graces.

      You never know, do ya' ...

      And thanks for that gentle reminder that God enjoys us even as we're heading onward to be more like His dear Son. Yes, yes ...

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  19. Some years ago when I joined an online support group for a neurological illness I had, I had come out in the first post thanking God for all the grace I had experienced through the trauma. Thereafter I felt that in order to be a "good testimony," I had to keep my posts positive and victorious and faith-filled. Then another Christian came into the group who was also faith-filled, but very honest about her struggles. It hadn't occurred to me that I was being dishonest, but I did see that the authenticity in her words was just as victorious - even more victorious - because it showed God's grace IN the struggle. Plus it made her more real and relatable and accessible to others (and even to me!) because the projection is "I've had pain, problems, and sorrow, but God met me there" rather than "I have everything all together!" We tend to pull back from the "have it all togethers" since we think they couldn't possibly understand us when we don't.

    I've always been so glad for the Psalms showing us that we can and should be totally honest before God.

    I do think there are times for a little...I don't know if I'd call it pretending. But when I give a soft answer when I feel more like ripping into someone verbally, when I act hospitable and welcoming when I'd really rather be left alone, when I try not to spew my bad mood all over my family - I don't know what to call it, but when I act how I am supposed to even if I'm not feeling like I'm supposed to, usually the feelings turn around after a while. But I know that's different from what you're talking about.

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    1. Fabulous point, Barbara ... I've heard exactly what you're saying from NUMEROUS women as they've forced themselves to have a jolly, positive testimony, instead of being real and authentic and being able to proclaim that God is right there in the midst of their struggles.

      Our good intentions can cause great damage as we tuck who we truly are down somewhere deep and pretend like all is well when it most certainly isn't.

      And you're spot on in that final paragraph, too. Being real and authentic is not license to be rude, unpleasant, or abusive.

      I'm so glad you're here! You add so much to our dialogue and I am grateful ...

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  20. Powerful post, and spot on with the Bible study I just started. I am feeling overwhelmed with LIFE... keeping up with appointments, trying to earn more money for the family, etc. etc. and feeling so detached from my relationship with God.. it feels like He is distant, but I know it is me who drifted... I have been seeking Him, asking to for Him to get closer, when it is ME who needs to WANT go "get well"... this was an awesome post my friend! <3 - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

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    1. Yep, it's a powerful question to ask ourselves, isn't it! It clears the decks, it puts our options on the table, it forces us to make hard decisions to choose what matters most.

      I'm glad this was a helpful post for you, Gingi ... I hope there'll be some food for thought that lingers and encourages you as you continue to move ahead.

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  21. Thanks for speaking up for authenticity and transparency here. And I love Jesus' question, "Do you want to get well?" I've been thinking a lot about the other question he asks, "What do you want me to do for you?"

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    1. Reading your words this afternoon caused me to reflect, Betsy.

      Thank you. Fairly quickly I was able to name, once again, what I had been praying over. And then I was able to say, with ease, 'Thy will be done.'

      God spoke His Word to me through you. I'm grateful ...

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  22. When I became a believer 39 yrs ago, emotional freedom was the “carrot” God held out in front of me to keep me growing. I wanted to be emotionally free so bad. I wanted to be who i was created to be. A big part of that emotional freedom was to say ouch if someone punched me (not physically punched but emotionally punched me). Pretending is the shield or banner one wears when they live with alcoholics because the sober adult teaches you how to keep things to yourself then you discover also there is no where to go with those feelings of struggle and unresolved conflict. I have learned to say “ouch” Praise God and am learning who to say ouch to.

    Your grandkiddies must love being like Rock Stars in Grandma’s blog. Work it cause the teenage years are upon you.

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    1. Fascinating, Carol, how God held this gift in front of you to keep you growing.

      Your words, your story are important. You've shown us that all things are possible through Him. Including healing. Growth. Wisdom. Love.

      And yes, there are times when we most certainly must say O U C H!

      Love to you this Thanksgiving week. Miss you so much ...

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  23. powerful post, Linda! I especially loved the photos!

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'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda