Lent Part 4 – Invitation to UnMask

God Doesn't Transform Our False Selves

Recently my family was getting ready to go somewhere and I said, “Give me a minute – I’ve got to put my makeup on.”  At that point my 11-year-old blurted out, “There’s Adam and Eve’s Apple for you.” 

I turned and looked him in the eye to see if he had really just made the deep theological comment that I thought he’d made.  Sure enough.  He went on to say, “Mom, it’s all because Adam and Eve ate that apple.  Then they were naked and ashamed, and they had to cover up, just like you’re going to do.”

He said it with a twinkle in his eye and a teasing manner, but his point still cut straight to the heart of the matter.  Just like Adam and Eve, I do try to cover up.  More often than I care to admit, I find myself frantically sewing fig leaves together to hide from God, from myself, and from others.

This moment with my son connected with a question God has been prompting me to chew on.  Last week I was listening to some teaching on spiritual transformation, and the speaker asked the question: “Can you name your false self?”  Well of course, I thought.  No problem.  I know myself pretty well.  But then I sensed God saying, “Yes, Linda, but let’s dig a little deeper.”

God was inviting me to get real.  To unmask myself before Him and stop playing pretend.  He began to show me that beneath my false self is a deep fear that goes beyond just wondering, “What will people think of me?”  This fear is a heart-gripping panic, like a cornered animal looking for an exit.  My gut instinct is to run away and protect myself.

This need to protect ourselves runs deep and is usually the result of painful wounds from our past.  Sometimes these wounds are inflicted on us unjustly by others, and sometimes they come from our own brokenness and sin.  But life must go on.  So in order to function and keep from becoming raving lunatics, we do the only logical thing – we develop coping strategies.  We find ways to hide, cover up, pretend.

So with anticipation and fear, I asked God to show me the ways that I hide behind a false self.  Much of what He revealed to me were things I already knew about myself, like the fact that I tend to be a performance-driven approval-junkie.  He reminded me that sometimes my false self is overly concerned with putting on a happy face when I’m hurting in order to protect others from my pain.  He also reminded me of the many ways I try to control people and circumstances in order to prevent myself from being wounded again. 

As God held up a mirror to my heart, what I saw was not a pretty picture!  I was humbled by my inadequacies.  But God said, “Linda, I’m not done yet.” 

He invited me to surrender my masks to Him and then focus on the new things He’s doing in my heart during this journey of Lent.  He’s inviting me to deeper intimacy with Him – which is truly what Lent is all about.  It’s not strictly about sacrifice and self-discipline.  It’s about coming closer to the Lover of my soul and being transformed into His likeness.  Any habit or spiritual discipline that I undertake is only useful if it helps me get closer to Him.  (By the way, you may remember that I’ve given up watching television for Lent, and I can honestly say it has freed up space for me to ponder things like my false self.  This spiritual discipline has definitely been fruitful so far!)

If you’ve wondered how to get closer to God, this could be His invitation to you today.  We need to remember that God doesn’t transform our false selves – and we cannot have intimacy with Him out of a false self.  He loves us just the way we are, but He invites us to come out of hiding so that we can live in the freedom of being our true selves and having an authentic relationship with Him.

As the word of God says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders,” including our masks, “and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”  (Hebrews 12:1)


4 Comments

  1. Wow. Great truths here. Thanks for sharing your true self with us. And for the challenge to unmask and be authentic with one another.

  2. A+ Great insight. oops I should not have said that since I happen to know you are a performance-driven approval-junkie.

  3. Good stuff Linda!!! Thanks…I needed that! We miss you! Come to Mexico soon!

  4. Very helpful. Thanks. I found the verse from Hebrews particularly apt. Question: what do you make of where Gen. says that (though THEY put on fig leaves to hide their nakedness), “God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them” (Gen 3:21, NRSV)? Clearly that can’t be God helping them to hide — what does that mean to you?

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