In my lifetime, I’ve worn a lot of costumes.
There were homemade costumes created by my cousins and I (with the help of our grandmother) for our productions of Aesop’s Fables or when we decided to rewrite “Crybaby.” On a side note, I can’t believe my parents and uncle let us watch that. It’s super inappropriate. Funny as hell, but inappropriate.
There were also Halloween costumes either bought (eh) or made by my mother from an idea born in her crazy mind (my favorite). I have spent hours upon hours in dusty costume shops searching for a turban or perfect wig for high school theatre productions, and now I am an assistant theatre director.
Costumes have consumed a great deal of my life, obviously. And I’ve pondered why that is. Truthfully, I just enjoy the escape. Letting loose of myself for a moment of time and pouring my energy into another persona was a way of “taking a break.”
What I never realized until recently was that I’ve done this my entire life – with or without a costume.
I am guarded.
And let me admit to you that I have made a lot of jokes out of that statement. A LOT. And I’m not proud of it, but, yes, I am the girl who has rolled her eyes pretty much every time someone said that on “The Bachelor” or in a church small group.
My thought process always went something like, “What does that even mean? Guarded? You’re guarded because you think it sounds angsty and cool. Geez, that’s dumb. I’m not guarded. I don’t hide behind anything. I’M A STRONG, INDEPENDENT WOMAN.”
False. That’s just one big lie I told myself for far too many years.
In the past year, God has revealed that I hide behind too many things. Which was actually news to me. I really thought I had it all together. Honestly, I did. I knew that I had some struggles, but I was actually of the opinion that I was just fantastic. Well, I still think I’m fantastic, but you get the point. What I didn’t realize was that my relationship with Him was at a complete standstill and actually going backwards. Why? Because I was stubbornly hitting a wall planted firmly between myself and Him but still ignoring the existence of the wall. Which is just strange, you guys. If you ever see someone hit their head firmly against a wall repeatedly and then say the wall isn’t real, get them some help. Something is very wrong. And something IS very wrong with me.
- I hide behind my family. I let them be my source of comfort when things are going wrong. Anytime I’m hurting or stressed, I run home to let them numb the pain and distract my heart and mind. Leaning on my family is not the problem. Burdening them with the responsibility of fixing my problems and putting them on an emotional pedestal that should only hold God is the problem.
- I hide behind activities. An idle mind thinks and ponders and worries. To avoid that and, ultimately, myself, I keep myself busy. Whether it’s a full TV schedule or leaving every single weekend to go anywhere but here, I hide my heart in the art of busyness.
- I hide behind humor. If I’m laughing, you can’t tell that I’m hurting. I thank God for my ability to laugh and be silly, but one of my favorite things is also one of my most commonly used masks. When I can’t face the hard truth that things are just plain crappy, I dive into laughter. And over-the-top laughter. I need it. I need someone to affirm that I made them laugh. I need that affirmation. NEED. But that’s not true. That’s just what I want. What I need is the Word. What I need is the presence of the Lord. What I need is to fall down before the Throne and let Him hold my heart and soul.
All I need is Him, but that requires me letting down my guard. Therein lies the paradox, friends.
But the first step is recognizing the problem and admitting it. That sounded like the beginning to a sobriety speech, but I guess in a way I am getting sober. Instead of alcohol or drugs, I’m working on giving up the thing I’ve depended on for so long – my comfort zone.
God has called me to turn in my masks and costumes in favor of having a more fulfilling, complete relationship with Him. And it will not be comfortable. Obviously, comfort is what got me into this mess – comfort and a crippling fear of being raw and vulnerable in front of the world.
Feelings are messy. And my insides feel very much like what happened in Matthew 21:12. Jesus is all up in my life flipping tables and stirring up all that doesn’t honor and further His Kingdom, and it’s because He loves me and values me that much. Super cool dude. I’m a fan.
There is no space in my life for the metaphorical costumes and masks in my life, but I’m keeping my badass Native American headdress and Hedwig costume. Those I ain’t givin’ up.