Shame Masks Healed By Intimacy in Fathers Love
As many of us have experienced, I went through some painful times of rejection growing up: the fight I not only lost, I didn’t even see coming; my best friend deciding to un-friend me; Dad not showing up to watch me compete in the skateboard contest. And there are the smaller things. Getting yelled at when you didn’t even realize you were in error, getting disciplined in a demeaning way. These experiences caused me to wear a mask, to put forth an image of myself that seemed more acceptable than simply being me. It was not unlike when Adam suddenly had the need to cover his newly self-conscious nakedness with fig leaves and hide when God showed up because he was afraid.
There are many masks we can adopt. In grade school I was the class cut-up. In high school there were many manifestations of the mask: you had the nerd crowd, the jocks, the heavy-metal kids, and some country. I was a preppy druggy. I made fun of the goody-two-shoes nerds, the spastic jocks, and the loser heavy-metal crowd. Don’t even get me started on the rednecks. Then I got saved and became Bible man. No one could know the Bible better than me. I became a spaz for God. But in all of these examples I was hiding, wearing a mask. It didn’t feel okay to simply be me.
We all have ways we hide, things we don’t ever want others to see about us, things we don’t even want to know about ourselves. Nobody is completely exempt from dealing with issues of shame. However, the idea is to be ever moving toward intimacy (“into-me-see”). This is were we can be transparent, genuine, and vulnerable. This is where we can find connection with God and others and come out of loneliness.
God wants us all to be His transparent bride, who looks forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, awesome as an army with banners (Song 6).