Do you ever find yourself not being 100% true to who you really are around others? Perhaps pretending to be someone you aren’t? Wearing a protective mask?
Part of what perpetuates our penchant to hide behind a mask, is our inclination to compare ourselves to others. By comparing ourselves to others, we hold ourselves up to the image that they desire for others to see…the public mask they put on display. So we compare ourselves to others who were not given the same personalities, gifts, and talents as we so we will always fall short if we try to measure ourselves against others as our standard.
Yet we must align ourselves instead with what we know to be true. The Bible says that we each are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). God has designed each of us with our own sets of gifts and talents, none of them more special or important than the others. Sometimes, however, I think we get caught up looking at others and wishing we were more like them, hiding behind our masks, and playing the part of who we want to be or who we want others to think we are, instead of embracing who God created us to be.
I have always had a special affinity for the well-known story of Mary and Martha from the book of Luke in the Bible. If I am being honest with you, I have always lived life as a Martha, but as a “Mary-wannabe.” In my interpretation, Martha was a do-er, an achiever, and she likely found it hard to rest. Scripture tells us that when Jesus came to visit, Martha was very busy making preparations for the meal. That may have been fine in and of itself. I think what tripped Martha up was when she began to compare herself to her sister Mary, and thus began her discontent.
Often, when we wear a mask, and we compare ourselves to others and try to be like them, try to be anyone other than our authentic selves who God designed us to be, we become tired, frustrated, angry, sometimes even bitter and resentful:
“She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the feet of the Lord and listened to his teaching. Martha was upset over all the work she had to do, so she came and said, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me! The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha! You are worried and troubled over so many things, but just one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:39-42 Good News Translation).
It is hard work to be someone other than who God created you to be. It would be like an auto mechanic trying to be a dentist, or a school teacher trying to be a ballerina, or a fox trying to be an elephant. It’s not only impossible, it is exhausting. In that exhaustion, it can lead to feelings of defeat, depression, and despair. That is not the abundant life that Jesus came to give us.
It is time to stop comparing ourselves to those around us, to their personalities, their gifts, and their talents. It is time to take off our masks and to start walking in the beauty and radiance of God’s calling in our own lives.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 New Living Translation)
What kind of mask are you wearing today?
What will it take for you to exchange that mask for the life God has for you as the beautiful masterpiece you are?