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Susan Chase

 
*Enjoy the story below, and come back often! I look forward to hearing from you soon!
 
Will the Real Me Please Stand Up?
 
Psalm 34:2, 8, 18
“Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt His name together...Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him...The Lord is close to the
brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
 

1Kay Arthur writes in her book, Our Covenant God ,

“Most of us live a good part of our lives with the subconscious dread that someday we will be caught...
found out...
exposed for what we really are.
The mask will be taken off,
and whatever we have hidden behind-
our personality,
an image,
our influence,
or our affluence,
or even our seclusion
or withdrawal-
whatever it is
will suddenly be taken away.
We will be seen for who we really are, and we tremble at the thought.” (1995: p195)

 

Intimacy. We all want it. We all crave it. But many of us are terrified of it. We are afraid of letting anyone in too close-we fear what might happen. What if they don’t like me? What if all of my secrets are exposed? What if I share my heart and they laugh at me? Walk away from me? Desert me? Sometimes the fear overwhelms us and we shut down. Better to live safe than to risk the hurt and pain that comes from being rejected. Better to live a façade than to risk showing the real me and be left alone.

Having been rejected, having been deserted, we know well the hurts and the aches in our heart. Wounds so deep we sometimes wish we would cease to exist. The pain so real it is manifested in the core of our being-we can feel it in our bones, in our arms, even our chest heaves in pain. We promise ourselves we will never love some one again that deeply, that freely, that intimately because the hurt of rejection, of dismissal, of being found out is too painful. The deeper the love, the more potential for pain, for being hurt, and for being destroyed.

And yet, it is what we need. To be known, to be loved, to be needed, to be completely and unconditionally accepted for who we are. Our warts, our bruises, our broken arms and scars, our wounds and our joys, our hopes, and our passions. We desire intimacy and we fear intimacy so much that we push it away and keep it at a distance. A great distance. So far away that very few people are ever really given the opportunity to meet the real you, the real me.

Several weeks ago I was having dinner with some friends and the topic of childbirth came up. And we all began to share our own birthing stories and experiences. We were mostly done when one woman casually mentioned that after her last child, she slipped into depression and wasn’t sure if she would ever make it out. I was shocked. I had no idea. Was it my fault I did not know? Did I not see the signs? Was it her fault I did not know? Was she a master of masks? As she began to share her struggle to recover, I was greatly saddened by her story. I felt helpless as she related how difficult her life had been in those first few months after her child was born. My sorrow was compounded by the knowledge that had I known, had she opened up to me I could have been there for her. I could have shared in her journey and lightened her load because I had been through the same thing. I had already walked that same road after the birth of one of my children and I knew her pain. I knew her grief, I knew her despair, and yet in a sense it was too late to do anything for her. She had resolved her depression and was in her words, “over it.”

But what a struggle it had been! And it need not have been. But she did not trust anyone, save her husband, with this dark, unpolished, unattractive side of her. She just kept up appearances, kept up her façade, in hopes that no one would know, and no one did. Just like me. How different our lives would have been if we had only taken the time to share our hearts and had taken the time to connect.

That could have made all the difference. When we drop the mask and share the real us we empower others to do the same and we break apart the walls of isolation we so often find ourselves living in. It is a scary challenge, and one to be taken with care-not everyone can be trusted with the intimate details of our lives. But God can, and He would love for you to drop the masks you are wearing and be real with Him.

So what mask are you wearing? What is it you hide behind to protect yourself? Is it fear? Anger? Business? Pride? Plans? Social Climbing? What do you build your walls with-and are you willing to begin removing those masks in the presence of God, in your daily meetings with Him? And are you willing to become vulnerable and open and honest with one or two or three other women you can trust with the real you? It is a scary thing to do this-but it is also highly rewarding as well.

When we find others we can trust, we can begin to let our masks down. We can begin to live as the women we were created to be instead of who we think others want us to be. When we begin revealing who we are inside, we give to others the ability to do the same. I belong to a group of two other women who know me. Inside and out. They have seen my shortcomings and know my battles, and they still love me. They still come alongside me and pray with me and help me to refocus my thoughts, my feelings, and my insecurities to the One who can take it all and redeem it. And, the greatest return of all is that I am privileged to do the same for them.

Who sees behind your mask? Are you willing to be vulnerable with God? Do you trust Him with your hurts, your fears, your insecurities, as well as your hopes and joys? Do you have a friend or a group of women who hold you accountable, who pray for you and with you? One or two that will stand by you no matter what battle you are facing and will arm themselves and fight alongside you? Or do you live in a high tower, far removed from the woman God created and desires you to be?

If you do not have someone to hold you up, begin by turning to God. Make sure you have shared your heart fully and completely with Him and then ask Him to send you someone you can trust who will give you good counsel, who will help you stay focused on Him and someone with whom you can come alongside and lift up as well.

If you do have a special woman in your life, take a moment to thank God for her (or them) write down what it is you appreciate about them and the strengths you see in their life and send them a note encouraging and thanking them for the gift they are in your life.

 
A Place for Me is dedicated to helping women stay lead lives that are meaningful, authentic and real, and deeply connected to the God who loves them.

*Will the Real Me Please Stand Up? is second in a series of excerpts from Enjoying the Journey, a Thirty Day Devotional Based on the Psalms. Please feel free to contact Susan Chase for publication and reproduction information.
All rights reserved 2003

1Our Covenant God, Arthur, Kay, 1999. Colorado: WaterBrook Press

Intimacy, Growing With God