We all wear masks to cover the broken areas where we don’t measure up. Everyone, at one time or another, has felt inadequate, ugly, and unloved. We are part of a fallen world where we need to be reminded that love is real, grace is available, and it’s OK to acknowledge who we really are.
As someone who wrestles with depression and anxiety, I often find myself living in a masquerade, hoping that no one sees the broken mess of a person that’s hidden deep inside. Many times in my life I have hidden within smiles and laughter, all while a stream of tears fell behind my eyes.
It’s easier to pretend to be someone we’re not. It’s easier to find confidence and affirmation in the person we never were. It’s easier to laugh with a friend rather than to cry and tell them that we’re not alright.
Many people can be destructive when they discover the weaknesses in others and we must use caution about who we are vulnerable with. I am not encouraging you to bare your soul to the entire world, as that would most likely lead to even more heartache. But there are authentic people in this world who care about your story. There are people who want to know the real you and who will meet you with the embrace of grace. There are people who have devoted their lives to speaking truth, life, and hope to the brokenhearted.
What I’ve learned through my own journey with brokenness is that most often, the people who extend grace have been recipients of grace themselves.
In 2009 I met one of my closest friends, Hunter, who was leading a men’s study group at our church. As we became friends, often talking over coffee or taking in a movie, I opened up to him about my struggles with an anxiety disorder, about my dreams for a better future, and about my faith in a God who felt so far away. Through all the conversations, he never once made me feel inadequate or lacking. I’ll never forget one time over coffee when he said something like, “Andrew, your Daddy (God) loves you…Do you know that?” Those simple, yet powerful words have stayed with me ever since that day.
What if we began to speak life into the darkness? What if we began to invite others to share their stories, to share their fears, to share their dreams, to share their doubts, and to share their hopes? What if we are called to be like Hunter, to be voices of light screaming into the dark?
We’ve been hearing more and more about tragedies where comedians and entertainers are ending their own lives – whether intentionally or accidentally through substance abuse – all while they appeared to be healthy, happy, and successful. Somewhere along the way they believed the lie that they were too hideous, too unlovable to be truly known and to be honest about their pain. It’s a tragedy because they were loved, because their lives mattered, and because they were created for life.
Is it possible that your world is full of hurting people who are hiding, ashamed of what you might find behind their eyes?
What if God allows us to experience heartbreak in order to see the humanity in others? What if grace is present in the midst of heartbreak? And what if we are called to be the voice of grace and hope to the people in our lives?
Grace made a way for you to be known, with all your tragedy, failure, and inadequacy. We were never created to hide in the shadows. Shame caused Adam and Eve to hide from God because of their sin and because of their brokenness, but in Jesus, God calls us out of hiding.
I’m more convinced now than ever that all we need in order to live a successful life is to know (and be known) by God, to be reminders of His image in every person, to bring hope to those around us, and to create space in our lives for others to be fully known with open arms of grace.
Today we have the opportunity to remind the people in our lives that they are loved, that their story is important, that they are alive, and that they wear the fingerprints of the God of uncontainable grace.