Masquerade

"I'm afraid of sharing my story because of who it will hurt."

The room, filled with about 100 women, was mostly quiet except for the buzz of the AC overhead, the cry of a baby in the back, and the occasional sniffles from a few quietly crying.

The speaker at the conference I was attending had asked every person to fill in the blanks to this phrase: "I am afraid of _____ because _____." She then asked for women to stand and share their fears with the group. This powerful exercise had moved many to tears as they faced those kinds of fears that reside in the deepest, quietest places of the heart.

I sat there processing what this brave woman had just shared with the rest of us. Isn't this one of those fundamental problems with the human condition? We conceal our true selves - our hopes, our fears, our struggles, our pain - because we are afraid of who it will hurt.

Will the truth damage my relationships? Will it damage me? 

What if they really knew?

And so we hide. We cover sins, ones we've committed or others have committed against us, because we feel shame. We cover hurts and fears, not wanting to be vulnerable with our peers in case they don't understand. We cover the ugly parts of our lives, and sometimes we even cover the beautiful parts. Because let's be honest - being vulnerable, being genuine, is a bit scary.

Instead, we want to appear strong, put together, confident. We want to join the universal masquerade of humanity, proving that we too have it all figured out. At the end of the day, however, the only ones we are really fooling is ourselves.

My daughter's memory verse for Awana this past week was Romans 5:8: "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We have said this verse over and over again with her, waving our arms with silly hand motions to help her memorize the words. It has been on repeat at the Holmes household.

And I've been thinking a lot about this verse as we say it. It's one I've known since childhood. It's a verse used often to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have never heard it. And really, what I have realized is this: it's the great equalizer.

All have sinned.

What I'm really getting at is this: we are all the same. Economic status, social status, material possessions, none of it really matters. We haveall fallen short of God's glory through our sins. Every person on this earth (except for Jesus Christ)  - past, present, and future - is born separated from the holy God because of sinful depravity.

In other words, none of us has it all put together!

So the next logical question to ponder is this: is it really worth all the covering up and hiding? Is it worth all the effort we put into fooling each other? I would venture to say a resounding NO.

I wanted to talk with that woman after the session that night, but she slipped out with her phone against her ear. The next day, I was not able to find her again. But if I could find her still, I would encourage her with this:

Share your story. Not every story needs to be shared publicly, but share it with someone trustworthy. Oh, the freedom of allowing truth to be spoken! Oh, the healing that comes when light shines in the darkness, exposing all ugliness, so that it can be removed and you can be restored. Share your story.